Long reads

The Euro50 Q&A: Shane O’Neill, Liberty Global

Shane O’Neill, who recently retired as chief strategy officer, Liberty Global and president, Chellomedia, reflects on an eventful year for Liberty Global’s content division, which now operates 45 channels. Over the last year it has seen its joint venture channels with CBS perform well in the UK, and has also strengthened its position in Spain and Portugal thanks to its acquisition of Teuve.

Age: 50

Education: Blackrock College and Law, Trinity College, Dublin
Previous companies: Macquarie Bank & Goldman Sachs

Last year’s highlights 
The Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal is a significant industry deal as well as our own exit from Japan and investment in Germany, in Unitymedia; there are some exciting emerging technologies too which are now coming to the market, e.g. ‘TVE’ (TV Everywhere). The pay TV platforms around the world will be very active and successful with this, I believe. In 2011, Liberty Global consolidated its position in Europe, with leading performances from a number of our affiliates especially in Germany, Ireland and Holland; we have laid a great foundation for some exciting new platform developments which will be rolled out in 2012. Chellomedia had another very good, busy year, with lots of great deals which has taken our portfolio to a record 45 channels: the JV in the UK with CBS is over one year old and the channels have performed really well; we also picked up the Teuve bouquet and our position in Spain and Portugal is excellent with a 21 channel bouquet; we have launched new HD feeds for a number of channels such as Spektrum and MGM and launched apps across a number of our channels eg. for our premium channels in the Netherlands, Film 1 and Sport 1. It never ceases to amaze me how much we are doing across so many markets!

Challenges and opportunities
 We will need to think carefully about how we manage the opportunity, and the move to deliver TV Everywhere. New devices such as the iPad and the range of new tablets make ‘content on the go’ really appealing for consumers to watch long form content and access what they have at home. Behind the scenes, TVE is complex from a number of angles, and the industry has o think intelligently about how to manage this enhancement, preserving value for customers in programming and access. I am pleased to say both Liberty Global and the Chellomedia channels are well ahead in responding to this new opportunity.

Alternative career choice
 A professional surfer!

TV character most I most identify with 
Buzz Lightyear

Life outside work
 My family is very important to me: Sheelagh my wife and three wonderful children; I have also been very proud of what we have achieved with the Chello Foundation which is supporting 3,700 orphans to go to school in Africa.