Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Irish Times: Netflix to be added to Liberty Global’s set-top boxes

Story from Irish Times:

Liberty Global, the cable and broadband giant, has agreed a multi-year partnership with Netflix that will see the internet television company’s app added to Liberty’s set-top boxes.

No financial details were disclosed, but under the agreement Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin Media, will receive a share of revenues from Netflix for the customers that subscribe to the service via Liberty boxes.

The deal follows the launch of Netflix on Virgin Media’s UK platform in 2013.

Existing Netflix customers will be able to log in via the set-top box, while the companies will “initially” keep billing systems separate, Liberty Global managing director of business development Bob Greene said.

In practice, the agreement may not make too big a difference to many viewers, who may already consume Netflix on their television screens through smart TV platforms, or by the slightly more fiddly method of connecting various devices to their sets.

However, the deal is likely to encourage more viewers around the world to subscribe to Netflix, while existing subscribers may be prompted to load the app more frequently, rather than switch into linear television channels.

In Ireland, one-button access to Netflix is also marketed by Vodafone as one benefit of its nascent television service.

The Netherlands will be the first new Liberty Global territory to launch Netflix on the Horizon box as part of the partnership.

It will then be rolled out to other countries as technological upgrades across all of Liberty Global’s operations continue through 2017.

Liberty Global, which is controlled by the billionaire “cable cowboy” John Malone, has 29 million customers who subscribe to more than 59 million television, broadband and telephony services, and a further 11 million mobile subscribers.

It operates under the names Virgin Media, Ziggo, Unitymedia, Telenet and UPC in Europe, and is also the owner of Irish television channels TV3, 3e and, subject to clearance from competition regulators, UTV Ireland.