Neil Berkett (Virgin Chief Executive): We are working to ensure our TV services stay ahead of changes in the consumer behaviour. We expect to increase our HD content steadily to complement our existing linear and on-demand lineup. We are currently negotiating with several broadcasters with a view to launching at least five new HD channels in the third quarter.
Looking further ahead to the next generation of TV, we are working on capitalsing on technological convergence by developing a prototype next generation screen-based interface that combines traditional broadcast content with on-demand programming, web-based entertainment, and interactive features in a simple and user-friendly format. We believe these elements will enable us to differentiate our offering even further and drive further growth over the coming years.
All of our 600,000 DVR boxes are HD ready and as I have said, we intend to grow our HD content and capability this year, commensurate with the pace of market demand for HD. Of course, our key competitive TV advantage is video-on-demand and we already have around 270 hours of HD VOD content, which has recently been bolstered by our launch of the HD version of BBCI player on our platform.
Question from audience: ...on HD and Sky in particular, you had a very good quarter on gross adds. Can you just tell us of any sort of specific retention measures you had to put in place this quarter to counter that, and whether those should ease off as maybe Sky’s level of activity on HD drops off for the next couple of quarters?
Berkett: We see HD as an evolution in the U.K. It’s not a revolution, and we think it’s appropriate that we enter the market now, so we are making appropriate investments in terms of HD. Priority to date has been to ensure that we can absolutely leverage our network advantage and now we’ll start to, if you like, take application back into content and invest in acquiring HD -- appropriate HD channels. Again, I think it’s important that we acquire HD content where HD makes it different and we won’t be investing in the tile.
In respect to specific retention around Sky’s push in terms of HD, we haven’t had to have any material retention in place. I think more and more we are seeing the market segment around various offerings from ourselves, from Sky, or from BT. You know, this is not a zero sum game and so we haven’t had to do anything material in the retention space against HD and therefore to your follow-up question, there will be no lessening of that because it’s not in place in the first place.
May 06, 2009
Berkett talks HD
A full transcript of Virgin Media's presentation to investors is now available online. To save you plodding through all ten pages of financial results and debt management, here are the bits that refer to HD services: