Telenet: analogue down, digital up to 61%

06.40 Europe/London, October 28, 2011 By Robert Briel

Belgian cable operator Telenet has reported that at the end of September 2011 approximately 61% of its cable TV subscriber base had upgraded to digital TV. The number of digital TV subscribers reached 1,360,800, up 16% compared to the previous year.

Telenet also said that the buy rate of its VOD reached 4.4 titles per month per digital TV subscriber in Q3, the highest ever achieved. The total number of VOD transactions increased by 53% to 17.7 million in Q3 2011 and to 49.3 million for the first nine months of 2011.
The operator is also pleased with the take-up of Sporting Telenet since its launch at the end of Q2 2011. The channel was launched at the occasion of the acquisition of live Belgian first league champion football games. At the end of Q3 2011, approximately 172,000 customers subscribed to Sporting Telenet.
The vast majority of Telenet’s digital TV subscribers opt for its interactive Telenet Digital TV platform (1,305,700 homes), with the remaining customers still subscribing to the linear digital INDI platform that the company acquired through the Interkabel acquisition in October 2008.
Telenet said it had added 124,500 net new subscribers to its Telenet Digital TV platform over the first nine months of 2011, of which Q3 2011 accounted for 43,400. This marks an improvement over Q2 2011’s net additions of 33,300.
The total number of subscribers to both the analogue and digital television services totaled 2,214,100 at the end of September 2011. This represents a net organic loss of 59,900 basic cable television subscribers during the first nine months of the year.
In Q3 2011 specifically, Telenet said it temporarily incurred a higher loss rate as a result of the earlier announced 4.2% price increase as of October 2011.
In a statement Telenet said: “This anticipated higher churn will be more than offset by the positive impact of the price increase on our future revenue. The increased outflow of low value single?play analog TV subscribers generating the lowest ARPU amongst any of our products was offset by the inflow of new basic cable television subscribers as a result of the acquisition of the Belgian football rights. As a result, the net organic loss rate in Q3 2011 remained relatively unchanged as compared to preceding quarters at 19,800.”
Telenet is feeling the heat of the competition with customers churning to competitors’ platforms, such as other digital television providers and satellite operators, or customers terminating their television service or having moved out of our service footprint.
“Our annualised cable TV churn reflects the intensely competitive environment in the TV market with consumers now having the choice between a wide range of TV providers ranging from cable, IPTV and satellite to DTT and OTT in the near future, whilst at the same time basic TV prices remain one of the lowest within a wider European context.
“Given the historically high level of cable penetration in our footprint, the limited expansion of the number of homes passed and the availability of competing digital television platforms, we anticipate that the number of basic cable TV subscribers will continue to decline moderately. We believe, however, that the anticipated erosion in the number of TV-only subscribers will be more than offset by further growth in multiple-play subscribers, generating a much higher ARPU relative to the basic cable TV ARPU.”