The recent settlement of the long-standing carriage fee dispute with public broadcaster ARD pours €31.2 million into the pockets of German cable operator Unitymedia.
The figure revealed in the Q1 2018 report of parent company Liberty Global could cause a stir in the current discussion about cost savings at the public broadcasters.
A Unitymedia spokesman confirmed the payment to Broadband TV News. “The amount paid in Q1 is part of a comprehensive contract which also includes the settlement of previous legal disputes relating to carriage fees for the years since 2013. It is not possible to allocate certain amounts to individual years as this is a lump sum overall arrangement,” said the spokesman. He did not want to comment on the amount of the annual carriage fees ARD will pay from 2018. “The parties have agreed not to disclose the details of the agreement.”
ARD does not want to comment on the whole issue. “Unfortunately, for antitrust reasons, we see ourselves prevented from publicly providing information that would allow conclusions to be drawn about contract conditions with certain cable operators,” an ARD spokesman told Broadband TV News. “We kindly ask for your understanding.”
In terms of customer numbers, Unitymedia felt an increased churn rate in Q1 2018 due to price increases. A total of 29,000 new customer contracts (RGUs) were concluded, 26,200 of them for broadband internet. That’s less than in Q1 2017 in which 31,500 broadband customers were added.
Demand for fast internet access remains high: 80% of new broadband customers opted for a data rate of 150Mbps or more in Q1 2018. In terms of data usage, Unitymedia customers were above the German average of 79GB/month at 144GB/month in Q1 2018.
33,000 new customers opted for the Horizon TV multimedia platform. In total, 724,000 Unitymedia customers used Horizon TV on March 31, 2018, corresponding to 11% of the TV customer base.
The number of mobile customers declined by 17,000 to 304,000 in Q1 2018.