Virgin Medias CEO Tom Mockridge has ruled migrating the firms TiVo TV service to Liberty Globals Horizon platform, claiming that doing so would be a simplistic business approach.
Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch yesterday, Mockridge said that TiVo in the UK has been very successful, is growing by several percent a month in terms of household penetration and is well liked by customers.
Asked whether Virgin would make the switch to Horizon now that it is owned by Liberty Global which does not use TiVo in other markets Mockridge said the short answer is no.
Its a bit like saying Virgin Medias not a brand that Liberty Global uses in other markets. They havent turned up here and said well take away the red paint and slap Liberty on everything.
You make pragmatic, sensible judgements. You dont do it via a simplistic rulebook. The [TiVo] boxes deployed today have been very successful here The strongest mantra we take is that our customers like it.
He added that Liberty is not religious about the Horizon platform, pointing out that Liberty itself is not a software company and that the Horizon offering is the result of partnerships with the likes of NDS, which provides the middleware and user-interface for the Horizon boxes.
They are saying that if it [Virgin] works here, then were happy to maintain it. If it didnt work, wed take a different view. It doesnt mean there will be a third [next-generation TV offering], but having the optionality around two is not necessarily a bad thing, said Mockridge.
In its latest earnings call Liberty said that Horizon, which is deployed in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland and Germany, now accounts for 500,000 subscribers. By comparison, Virgin counts some 2 million customers for its Virgin platform.
Discussing other aspects of Virgins TV business, Mockridge said that Virgin was certainly open to more web-powered app deals, after integrating Netflix into TiVo boxes at the end of last year and admitted it had already held talks with Amazon about bringing Prime Video, recently rebranded from Lovefilm, to the service.
He also defended Virgins decision to not invest in its own content channels or original content.
We carry a wider selection of channels than anyone else in the market because we are the middle guy, said Mockridge. We would rather have a comprehensive offer and we dont see the differentiation in the programming as being critical to our future. We see our differentiation as being in the quality and depth of broadband.
He said that, at Virgin, we see ourselves primarily as a broadband supplier. Mockridge also claimed that as a cable operator, we are structurally, fundamentally in a much better position than BT, which, as the incumbent player, still relies on its copper network.
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