Liberty Global’s chief financial officer has ruled out an outright bid for ITV but sees an opportunity in taking some of its top shows into Europe.
Charlie Bracken told the Financial Times that it would be too “pricey” to buy the commercial broadcaster outright. Last year Liberty bought a 6.45% stake in the company for £481 million.
ITV is one of Europe’s largest programme makers. The FT quotes The Voice (screened by the BBC; a formed created by Talpa, which was acquired by ITV) and Come Dine with Me (Channel 4). It has a hit in Downton Abbey, but doesn’t have the distribution rights.
Bracken believes ITV CEO Adam Crozier is doing a good job, but questions: “why isn’t he going to Europe?”. Over the medium term, Liberty could help ITV make its shows available on demand in countries such as Germany.
It has been done before; Granada ventured into Scandinavia in the mid-1990s and ITV already owns a stake in on demand provider Cirkus. And the company has an intenationa; channel, ITV Chpoice, that is active in Asia and the Middle East and recently launched in Africa.
Bracken said Sky would be “in trouble” over the next five to ten years because of its dependency on satellite technology, and would face tough competition from Amazon and Netflix, who were ready “to bid hard with low margins”.
Europe’s telecoms market will be dominated by “three or four players” within two decades, Bracken predicted: Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Liberty Global and possibly France’s Altice.
With two-thirds of its installed base connecting their set-tops to the internet Sky might argue otherwise.