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Virgin Media touts high-speed signups and TiVO

Squeezes nearly 2 extra quid a month from users in Q3

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Virgin Media claims half a million people now subscribe to its high speed 30 Mbit/s cable service, with 178,000 on the 50 Mbit/s or 100 Mbit/s plans. The company clawed back 6,300 broadband punters in the third quarter of 2011.

The company made a pre-tax loss of £74m in the quarter, compared to a £10m profit a year ago, but revenue continues to climb north, up 2.2 per cent to £1bn for the period. For the nine months of 2011, VM recorded revenue of £2.96bn.

VM's cable subscribers spent more: ARPU (average revenue per user) rose 3.8 per cent to £47.86 per account. Rival BSkyB also has a similar strategy of getting more from its existing subscribers – boasting ARPU of £535 (£44.58 per month) in results announced two weeks ago.

After pocketing £348m cash from the sale of UKTV, Virgin Media said it will spend £248m on share buybacks.

In a statement, the company took a swipe at slowlane DSL rivals:

Recent guidance from the Committees of Advertising Practice ('CAP') should bring greater clarity to consumers on speed claims in broadband marketing. Whilst the CAP ruling stipulates that 10 per cent or more of customers need to receive an advertised speed, Virgin Media is committed to leading the industry and only advertises speeds that at least 90 per cent of our customers actually receive. By contrast, DSL competitors will have to change the way they advertise their broadband services, and we think this will further differentiate our services and highlight the quality of our broadband to consumers.

More than half of new Virgin Media cable signups opt for a 30 Mbit/s package, or one faster, the company said.

The company said it has 222,000 TiVo subscribers as of yesterday. Virgin Media started promoting the time-shifting box in earnest over the summer. It is also going to create a fondleslab app for couch potatoes. ®

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