Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Guardian: Virgin Media talking to Amazon about taking its video-on-demand service.

Here is the highlights:

  • Virgin Media has held talks with Amazon about putting its video-on-demand service Prime Instant Video on the cable network and is " certainly open" to the idea, according to Virgin's chief executive officer Tom Mockridge.
  • Last year Virgin struck a deal to show Netflix programmes such as Breaking Bad and House of Cards via an app on Virgin Media's TiVo set-top boxes.
  • Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild event in London, Mockridge was asked if he had had discussions to carry shows from Prime Instant Video, which recently announced it has snapped up the third series of BBC drama Ripper Street. Mockridge said that, "the honest answer is we have talked to them" and "we are certainly open to it", but " it takes two to tango" and said there is nothing to report currently as Prime is still "working out" their proposition since online retailer Amazon rebranded the former LoveFilm VoD service and folded it into its website.

  • He said that Virgin had "no interest at all" in entering the fray, arguing that the company could secure the rights for its customers – as it has done for BT Sport channels – through its relationship with rights holders such as BT, Sky etc who "often want our support" to help recoup costs.
  • In 2006 Virgin made a bid for ITV. When asked if the company would look at similar acquisitions now that it has the backing of Liberty Global – which as a market capitalisation of around $40bn – Mockridge said, "never say never" but said it was unlikely at the moment, pointing to Liberty's disposal of Cello as an indication of strategy.
  • Although Liberty Global chairman John Malone has a stake in and is on the board of Discovery, which is said to be a potential joint bidder for Channel 5, Mockridge said he could not foresee any synergies were Discovery to take on Channel 5. He said he "wouldn't know" about any such deal and Malone runs "a clear distinction" beween Discovery and Virgin.
  • Virgin is making "significant investment" in its network, which covers half the UK, and wants to grow it through expansion, which will mean digging up roads, rather than acquisition. Although it already boasts the fastest speeds Mockridge said, the company's "immediate priority is speed and capacity".
  • On Wednesday Tory MP Andrew Bridgen suggested that the BBC could be given powers to ensure that third parties such as Sky or Virgin have to cut off the corporation's services to people who have not paid their licence fee. Mockridge said technically it was possible ("Yes of course you can") to do so to customers who have set top boxes but said "don't interpret that as me giving any support to the idea".
  • He added that he thought that "it strikes me the BBC has enormous public support in this country".
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