Virgin Media beats expectations

Virgin Media has added a net total of 38,300 new cable subs – the largest number since it was formed by the merger of NTL and Telewest four years ago, and above analysts’ expectations.

Virgin said that the growth in net households added, which compares with just 7,100 for the same period last year, was attributable to a combination of a historically low customer churn rate of 1.1 per cent, expansion of its reach and its opening of new shops.

Virgin Media, which has heavily marketed its high-speed internet services with a 100 megabit service set for later this year, saw a 53 per cent increase year-on-year in broadband subscribers to 72,300. The company believes the promotion and availability of 'super fast' broadband has had a significant 'halo effect' on all its products and the brand.

Virgin Media’s broadband customer base stands at 4.2 million. The company said that the number of subscribers paying for 20Mb or 50Mb speeds now accounted for 16 per cent of the total broadband base. The number paying for high speed internet was up 46 per cent year on year. A total of 550,000 customers have signed up to Virgin’s 20Mb service and 57,900 to its 50Mb service.

The company added 35,700 net new TV subscribers, slightly under consensus analyst predictions of 38,000. Overall, Virgin added 46,600 TV customers; however, around 10,000 analogue customers were disconnected.

The company’s digital TV subscriber base stands at 3.7 million. It said that 77,900 more households were using its enhanced V+ high-definition digital video recorder. Just under 1m households now have V+, approximately 25 per cent of the total subscriber base. Almost 60 per cent of customers regularly use video-on-demand services. Average monthly video on demand views stand at 68 million, up 24 per cent year on year. Virgin Media’s TV revenues revenue increased 3.7 per cent to £33.8 million mainly due to a boost in the ad market.

Overall, the company reported revenues up 2.9 per cent to £963 million (E1.1bn) and EBITDA of £356 million.

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