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Virgin top of Euro Pay TV results, Zon doing nicely, aonTV stumbling along

Year-end European Pay TV results are coming thick and fast, and a whole lot more are expected next week

By PETER WHITE

Published: 24 February, 2011

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Year-end European Pay TV results are coming thick and fast, and a whole lot more are expected next week. While we covered Kabel Deutschland in a separate story, we also have the results of Virgin Media in the UK, Zon Multimedia in Portugal and perhaps a one line update on AonTV at Telekom Austria

Virgin Media is the pick of the crop, not only because it is bigger than the other two, but because it has had an increase in the number of its subscribers.

Revenue was up 6.6%, in line with Kabel Deutschland and other cable operations, to £3.9 billion ($6.3 billion) for the year with over £1 billion ($1.6 billion) for the quarter. Operating income was up 9.2% to £71 million and free cash flow up 24.2% to £412 million with ARPU also up 4.9% to a record £47.51 ($77) a month

While Virgin cites customers up 1.6% over the year with 76,600 net additions to 4.8 million we count TV homes which rose by 85,000, one of the few cable companies still growing its TV customer base in Europe, to 3.78 million. The company also has its own mobile service and added 27.5% contract customers in the year to 1.2 million.

Neil Berkett, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said, “In the year ahead our new TV service, powered by TiVo, will provide a real step change in home entertainment as customers benefit from the unique power of the Virgin Media network.”

In Zon’s two separate TV markets in Portugal, both cable and DTV figures fell slightly, as they do typically at most cable companies in Europe, with a fall in the year from 1.18 million cable subs to 1.16 million, a fall of less than 20,000. Its DTH base fell from 414,000 to 407,000, but in this instance ARPU was virtually static, which is a bad thing. The big swing for Zon is the rise in the number of triple play customers from 484,000 to 642,000 during the year, and this continues to be how it measures its success, all of which has given it a 7.2% increase in revenues to €872 million over the year, with margins growing slightly.

Meanwhile the number of aonTV IPTV subscribers at Telekom Austria grew by almost 50% to 151,000 subscribers, a rise of about 27,000 in the quarter. Given that the service is quite long lived, this has to be considered a relative failure as a service which is perhaps coming awake now, even for a country only the size of Austria with just 3.7 million TV households.

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