Virgin Media Profits As On-Demand Viewing Grows

UK pay-TV and broadband telco Virgin Media clocked its first annual profit in 2011, as its TV set top boxes continued to be an engine of video on-demand viewership.
For the year, the company swung to a £75.9 million net income from a £141.4 million loss a year earlier, as annual revenue rose three percent to £4 billion.
Virgin doubled sign-ups to its new TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO) PVR, now at a total 435,000 – but, though it increased its TV subscribe base between October and December, it lost 0.4 percent of its TV subscribers compared with the previous year.
The TiVo box is a big improvement from its predecessor but is still suffering from some quirks, still doesn’t offer some baseline features its predecessor did (like BBC Red Button) and is slow to roll out promised over-the-top services except for Spotify.
Virgin TV customers are now averaging 90 million VOD views per month on their set top boxes through a combination of recordings and hosted on-demand services, exceeding a billion total in 2011 (up 14 percent from 2010).
The company’s strategy is to cater to what it says is growing, voracious demand for digital entertainment and information – in part through its TiVo box and in part by increasing speeds of its broadband service, with which it has a competitive advantage against most copper-wire services by virtue of being fibre optic.