Just how well is Liberty Global performing in Central and Eastern Europe?
One of the first things that struck me when I saw the company’s latest set of results earlier this week was that its Romanian DTH operation Focus Sat lost no fewer than 22,600 subscribers in the second quarter – a surprisingly high number, even for such a competitive market.
Its Slovak counterpart freeSAT was also in negative territory, though by a more modest 500, while freeSAT in the Czech Republic and UPC Direct gained 1,400 and 2,400 customers respectively in the same period.
Another, not-too-impressive statistic was the Liberty’s operations in CEE lost a combined total of 30,100 video subscribers in the second quarter. On the other hand, this was offset by net gains of 44,000 and 26,300 internet and telephony subscribers.
Looking at some specific markets, we see that despite Focus Sat’s difficult quarter, its sister company UPC Romania performed well financially, posting a revenue total of $37.3 million in Q2 that was 8.7% up on the same period last year. Quoted in the local media, Severina Pascu, CEO of UPC Romania and Hungary, said that this was down to growth in all segments and a vindication of the company’s strategy.
Meanwhile in Poland, UPC Polska’s subscriber total at the end of June was 0.89% lower than a year earlier. However, the operator saw a strong migration from analogue to digital services among its customers and the second quarter was both eventful and positive in many ways.
The highlight was undoubtedly the launch of Horizon TV, which made its debut in May and saw 50,000 downloads in only its first three weeks. Also up and running was UPC Wi-Free, and UPC Polska in addition appointed a new president –Ramiro Lafarga Brollo.
The launch of Horizon in Poland was particularly important and it will in due course be rolled out to other Liberty markets in the CEE region.
Although Liberty’s focus remains very much on Western Europe, CEE clearly remains an important part of its business.