Virgin Media loses 47,000
customers as row with Sky continues
BY A CORRESPONDENT
17 May, 2007: Virgin Media has
disclosed that its dispute with rival
BSkyB has resulted in a loss of 46,900
customers in the first three months
Virgin Media, rebranded from NTL after
the cable operator bought Virgin
Mobile and Telewest in 2006, said only
184,300 customers had signed up in the
first quarter of 2007 compared with
213,500 in the last quarter of 2006.
An operating loss of £15.3 million in
the first quarter of 2007 saw overall
revenue fall by 5% to £1.02 billion.
Virgin Media suffered losses despite a
£25-million re-branding campaign in
which the company offered its
quad-play package of television,
mobile phone, landline and broadband
BSkyB withdrew its basic channels at
the end of February 2007 when the two
groups failed to agree on contract
Virgin Media’s net customer loss –
which takes into account the number of
new customers minus those leaving the
group – was made worse by poor
performance within its fixed-line
telephone offering and increased
competition in the market.
Virgin Media has been registering net
customer losses since the second
quarter of 2006. The company says it
expected this slide to continue into
the second quarter of 2007.
The number of customers deserting
Virgin Media rose to 1.6% from 1.3% in
the first quarter of 2006.
Virgin Media said the full impact of
the customer loss resulting from the
recent row with BSkyB was yet to be
felt as customers are required to give
30 days’ notice to cancel contracts.
Steve Burch, chief executive of Virgin
Media, said the company’s decision not
to agree to Sky’s renewal costs is
better for the company in the long
Viewers of Virgin Media lost hit
shows, including 24 and Lost,
mid-series when the Sky basic channels
were withdrawn on the midnight of
February 28, 2007, after talks broke
down between the two firms.
Virgin Media has since launched court
proceedings against BSkyB in an
attempt to resolve the dispute.
Virgin Media says that BSkyB attempted
to double the price for its basic
channels and is using its dominance in
the market to stifle competition. Sky
has strongly denied these charges.