Falls in the number of video and voice RGUs at Virgin Media took the shine off improved performances in Switzerland, Belgium Central and Eastern Europe for Liberty Global.
The cable operator lost 76,000 RGUs in the third quarter – 52,700 at Virgin alone – compared to a 32,000 gain in 2018.
But operating income was up 1.8% year-on-year to $208.8 million for continuing operations.
Liberty attributed the falls in its UK & Ireland business to a more disciplined approach to customer acquisition and retention combined with a shift in focus to higher-value TV bundles. Broadband added 5,000 RGUs, while telephony lost 9,000 RGUs.
“While, like everyone in the sector, there are challenges to navigate in the short-term, we have the vision, strategy and tools to strengthen our position as a competitive force in the marketplace and will continue to offer consumers the very best connectivity and TV,” said Lutz Schüler, CEO, Virgin Media.
In Belgium, Telenet’s loss of 36,000 subscribers is seen as progress, the operator has been fighting churn in the former SFR footprint.
Switzerland, where the financing model for the disposal of its business has been rejected, saw a loss of 14,000 RGUs, down from the 41,500 lost last year.
“While we are disappointed that Sunrise was unable to obtain approval for the financing of their acquisition of our Swiss operation, we are excited with the progress we continue to make in that market,” said Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries. “Like the rest of Europe, Switzerland is rapidly converging around fixed-mobile services, and our gigabit broadband networks and superior TV platform are the fulcrum assets in that market.”
Positivity came from Poland and Slovakia where a solid 26,500 RGUs built on similar gains last year.
Mobile put on another 132,000 subscribers including a record 107,000 postpaid mobile net adds in the UK and Ireland. Belgium added 31,000 mobile subscribers during Q3 including 43,000 net postpaid additions. And Switzerland added 16,000 mobile subscribers following a revamped mobile offer.