The number of subscribers to Virgin Media’s Tivo box is due to reach 1 million this week – less than a year after its launch.
The number of homes with the box, which connects sets to the Internet as well as traditional TV channels, rose 261,700 to 938,800 during the last quarter, helping boost revenues 4 per cent to £1 billion.
“This is the most rapid connected-TV roll-out in the world,” said the company’s chief executive, Neil Berkett, claiming consumers had signed up for TiVo faster than similar devices in the US, for example.
The rise in pay-TV income helped counter the worse-than-expected loss of 14,700 cable customers in Virgin Media’s seasonally weak second quarter, which often sees customer numbers drop as student households disconnect for the summer.
The company had expected a reduction of 13,000 in the number of cable customers, but the picture has improved compared with the same period last year when 36,000 defected. Broadband customers increased by 4,000, an improvement on the year before, when 12,600 disconnected. The company also added a few hundred landline customers, having lost 26,000 last year.
Growth in mobile and in corporate customers helped boost revenues, with a 10 per cent rise in Virgin Media Business income to £166 million representing a third of total group growth for the quarter. The division has been installing Wi-Fi at London Underground stations, with 120 connected and 240,000 registered users.
Mobile revenues grew 3 per cent to £136 million, with more than 15 per cent of Virgin’s customers buying all four of its main services – mobile, broadband, landline calls and TV.
The company said demand for superfast broadband – speeds of 30Mb per second and higher – was accelerating, driven by customers’ appetite for on-demand TV, with more than 40 per cent of new signings requesting 60Mbps or faster.
The number of high-speed subscribers increased by 459,800 to 1.3 million, which represents a third of the total broadband customer base.
“The more you buy the more you use,” added Berkett. “The day that you get upgraded and purchase a higher speed is the day that you consume more data. There’s a direct correlation. It’s not just about a few people who are really focused on this. This is about mass market, digitally aware customers who want connected TVs, who want superfast broadband.”