Horizon launch exceeds expectations
Cable giant Liberty Global has sold over 50,000 Horizon subscriptions since the September launch of its next generation platform in the Netherlands. President and CEO Mike Fries said the company will launch Horizon TV in Switzerland later this year, followed by Ireland and Germany next year.
Announcing its third quarter results, Liberty Global added 18,000 digital cable subscribers in the period ending September 30, taking its digital penetration above 50%. The growth of Liberty Global’s digital subscriber base to 8.8 million RGUs was led by strong performances in Belgium, Poland, Germany and Switzerland.
The loss of video subscribers in some markets that has affected Liberty Global in all quarters during 2012 continued in the third quarter, with 90,000 losses reported. That compares with losses of 59,000 a year earlier. Germany suffered from video losses of 26,000, compared with 7,000 a year earlier, due to a combination of video price increases for certain single dwelling units and the loss of a housing association contract during the quarter. Additional video losses were experienced in Poland due to increased competition in the market.
Overall RGU growth in the quarter was more positive, representing Liberty Global’s second best third quarter ever. Growth was led by Germany, Belgium, Hungary and Swiss operations, which between them accounted for around 80% of total additional.
Liberty Global will emphasise the different capabilities of its new Horizon box in different markets, according to Peter Dorr, managing director, strategic marketing, sales and customer care, Europe, Liberty Global.
The operator has created 10 categories of features, allowing marketers in each country in which the box is launched to pick a selection for their particular market, Dorr told attendees at the CTAM Europe EuroSummit yesterday. Liberty Global will use a set of phrases beginning with the word “Imagine” to convey the capabilities of the service to consumers. Phrases like “Imagine…you never have to miss a goal again” will form the basis of the campaign, which will also include the tagline “Everything you love is on TV”. Liberty Global has developed point-of-sale material for use in its stores in the Netherlands and will also run print and internet campaigns. The company will launch its full marketing campaign in the Netherlands in about a week.
Liberty Global has launched its Horizon TV product in the Netherlands, with Switzerland to follow next quarter and Germany and Ireland next year.
The Horizon box, made by Samsung with a user interface provided by NDS, includes 1024MB of RAM, 256MB of Flash memory, six DVB-C tuners and a 500GB hard disk.
The box is based on an Intel PUMA core and includes two WiFi chips – one for LAN connectivity and another provided by Celeno to deliver HD content through the home. The box connects via 802.11-based wireless in 2.4GHz and 5GHz and also includes a MOCA 1.1 capability for in-home coax.
Introducing the product at IBC in Amsterdam, Liberty Global executive vice-president and chief technology officer Balan Nair said that the company was also launching Horizon.tv, a browser-based application that allows users to access content on Horizon on other devices over the web. He also said that Liberty Global would launch a companion box next year for multi-room delivery of the service over WiFi.