Strong start for Horizon

November 5, 2012 09.57 Europe/London By Chris Dziadul

Liberty Global has sold over 50,000 Horizon TV subscriptions and had over 125,000 unique online users in the Netherlands since its launch in September.

According to Mike Fries, the company’s president and CEO, it now plans to launch Horizon TV in Switzerland later this quarter, followed by Ireland and Germany in 2013.

However, the company sees only very limited growth in the number of digital subscribers in the Netherlands – with a net gain of 9,400 the total number of digital homes is now 1,065,800. This compares with a growth of around 18,000 during Q2, 2012. Digital homes now represent 60.6% of all homes connected.

The number of homes connected in the country continues to drop and has now reached 1,762,000, a net loss 19,300 of during the quarter. The total loss of homes during the first nine months of the year is 55,300. UPC market share is now 62.4% in its Dutch footprint.

Fries was commenting about the latest set of Liberty Global’s results, which showed the third quarter as being the company’s strongest for two years, with top-line rebased growth of 6%, thanks largely to record numbers of broadband internet and telephony subscriber additions over the last 12 months.

Within its UPC/Unity division, there was particularly strong q-o-q growth in digital cable subscriber totals in Q3 in Poland (+26,500), Germany (+24,300) and Switzerland (+21,600), though a surprising fall in the Czech Republic (-7,800).

All four of its CEE markets also saw growth in the take-up of DTH services, with the highest figure (+9,100) being recorded in Romania.

In the broadband sector, only the Czech Republic (-3,500) saw a fall in broadband subscribers in the quarter.

Belgium’s Telenet meanwhile gained 64,100 digital cable subscribers in Q3.

Revenues in the UPC/Unity Division in Q3 amounted to $1,687.4 million (€1,314.2 million) in the third quarter, or 7.7% more than in the same period last year.

Operating cash flow was meanwhile 9.9% higher at $905.8 million and ARPU 1.6% up at €24.54. Liberty Global’s revenue growth in Q3 was fuelled by its West European and Chilean operations, with each posting a figure of 7%, while CEE reported a 1% rebased decline, which was consistent with previous quarters.