Triple play stimulates growth at Unitymedia
Jörn Krieger
Thursday, 12 November 2009 19:51

The triple play services of digital TV, internet and telephony have again stimulated growth for German’s second-largest cable operator Unitymedia in the third quarter of 2009.

The company had 1.3 million digital cable households on 30 September – an increase of 17% compared with the third quarter of 2008. The share of digital TV households amongst the total of 4.6 million Unitymedia customers was 29%, up from 24% a year ago. With Sky Deutschland’s cable customers counted into the figure, the digital quota was 33% (29% last year).

The number of internet customers rose by 69% to 877,000, with telephony customers up 74% to 535,000. Digital pay-TV subscriptions dropped from 531,000 to 470,000 as a result of the termination of the resale collaboration with Sky for the pay-TV operator’s soccer Bundesliga channel which has been available exclusively from Sky since the start of the current season, prompting many soccer fans to move from Unitymedia to Sky.

Altogether the number of customers for the new services of digital pay-TV, internet and telephony grew by 39% to 1.9 million. And 90% of the Unitymedia’s cable network has now been upgraded for triple-play services, compared with 75% one year ago.

The company’s problem child is arenaSAT, its pay-TV platform for DTH satellite households on Astra (19.2° East). On September 30 there were only 68,000 subscribers left, compared with 221,000 a year ago. With the termination of the resale agreement with Sky, arenaSAT lost its Bundesliga channel trump card. Within the industry it is speculated that Unitymedia could sell or close down its satellite subsidiary. The outlook appears grim, as the company acknowledges when publishing its quarterly figures: “Management expect further subscription cancellations in the future and is continuing to examine all strategic options for the arenaSAT platform.”