February 28, 2008

Virgin Media's Q4 2007 results

Virgin Media’s results for the final quarter of 2007 make interesting reading. Tucked away in the fairly lengthy press release are numbers that show good growth on the TV front (the best quarter’s growth since 2004 in fact) and also strong performances on all other fronts. Here’s the TV piece in full:

Total TV net additions were 61,100 in the quarter, up from 20,400 in the previous quarter. This represented the best quarter for at least seven years, based on pro forma combined operating statistics for periods prior to the cable merger. We believe this result was aided by the attractiveness of our VOD platform. 1.5 million of our TV customers are now using our VOD service on a monthly basis, representing a reach of 47%. Average views per user per month in the fourth quarter were 23 compared to 10 at the start of 2007. Average monthly views were 33 million in the quarter, up 45% on the previous quarter.

TV net additions were also positively affected by a record quarter for driving DVR penetration, partly due to a promotional reduction in DVR pricing. During the quarter, we added 72,200 V+ DVR subscribers to reach an installed base of 262,400. This represents a penetration level of just 8% of our digital subscribers and so the growth opportunity remains strong. In addition, based on our experience, DVR subscribers and VOD users are less likely to churn.

(For those not savvy with the acronyms, VOD is Video on Demand and DVR is Digital Video Recorder.)

So there are now over a quarter of a million VM customers equipped with HD capable boxes. Although the release talks of the “growth opportunity remains strong”, there’s no indication how they attend to secure that growth – marketing the V+ seems to be taking a backseat to the broadband push and certainly there’s no enhancements to the HD services to shout about. In fact, the only place I’m seeing the V+ promoted is on the side of the vans whizzing around South East London (Blackwall Tunnel permitting).

For me and mine, the V+ is the best piece of technology in the house. Easy to use, reliable, and an absolutely cracking TV picture. It’s a shame that VM don’t realise that with this and the VOD service they really do have something to shout about that’ll grow their revenues. But no, they’re still pushing a broadband service that has notable speed deficiencies in the peak evening hours and declining to add HD channels despite an obvious deficiency with even the basics (such as 4HD). Ho hum.

Postscript: The presentation made to investors today can be found here

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