Tough times continue for UPC

By Chris Dziadul

August 5, 2009 08.00 UK

Liberty Global has posted a net loss attributable to shareholders of $93 million (€64.6 million) for the second quarter, compared to a profit of $428 million in the corresponding period in 2008.

It has also received approval to buy back an additional $250 million of its common stock, having already purchased a similar amount of equity this year.

UPC Broadband had a difficult quarter in both Western and Central and Eastern Europe, its revenues being 11% and 22.3% down on the same period in 2008. ARPU, however, rose 1.2% year-on-year for the division as a whole to €23.51, while that for Belgium’s Telenet, which reports separately, rose by 0.6% to €35.17.

UPC’s digital cable subscriber total continued to grow impressively in the CEE region in Q2 (37,800) being seen in Poland. Although the Czech Republic had the highest number of digital cable customers (353.100), it only added 18,500 in the quarter.

There was less good news on the DTH front, with UPC Direct losing subscribers in both the Czech Republic (5,500) and Slovakia (600), and only gaining a modest number in Hungary (1,100). Romania’s Focus Sat only gained 400 in the same period.

Although The Netherlands remained UPC’s leading digital cable market, it gained far fewer digital customers (16,500) than lost analogue ones (43,200) in Q2.

Switzerland meanwhile saw an identical loss (2,500) of both analogue and digital cable subscribers.
UPC now offers a DVR product in all nine of its markets, HD in eight and VOD in three.

Over 35% of its digital subscribers take a DVR and/or HD service.