2011 has begun in very much the same way that last year ended for Liberty Global, solidly and with some markets in Western Europe performing exceptionally well. It was particularly notable in terms of subscriber growth, with the region, led by Germany’s Unitymedia, contributing most strongly to an increase of over 250,000.
Western Europe also saw 5% year-on-year rebased revenue growth in the first quarter, with Liberty’s Irish, German and Dutch operations the star performers with rates of 12%, 8% and 6% respectively. Revenue growth in Central and Eastern Europe amounted to 2% over the same period.
Looking specifically at subscriber numbers in the European sector, Germany led the way with 55,700 digital cable additions in the first quarter, followed by Poland with 37,400.
The growth in Liberty’s DTH operations in the CEE region following last year’s switch to one degree West continued, with Romania and Hungary adding 8,400 and 8,900 subscribers respectively in the quarter. Slovakia added a much smaller 2,700, while UPC Direct in the Czech Republic lost 4,500.
Liberty notes that UPC Europe accounted for 71,000, or 56% of its consolidated RGU additions, in Q1 2011, with its Dutch, Irish and Swiss operations gaining 34,000, 26,000 and 8,000 respectively. Its Irish operation, benefiting from Fiber Power, posted record subscriber growth in the quarter.
Digital cable penetration meanwhile continued to grow and reached 49% for UPC Holding, up from 39% a year earlier, and 46% of its digital cable subscribers had opted for HD or DVR functionality or both as of the end of Q1 2011.
Revenues in the UPC Broadband Division (excluding Telenet) amounted to $1,161.5 million (€782.5 million) in the first quarter, or 17.1% more than a year earlier, while in Central and Eastern Europe they rose by 2.3% year-on-year to $265.1 million.
Operating cash flow rose by 22.5% to $646.8 million in Western Europe but fell by 4.9% to $127.3 million in Central and Eastern Europe.