Cable Congress Sessions Highlight Market-Winning Strategies

Cable Congress Sessions Highlight Market-Winning Strategies
07/03/2013 Carol Ward

(London 7 March 2013) Continuing to consolidate, harnessing the power of mobile, up-selling fibre-rich telecoms services, and taking the cable experience out of the home are among the market-winning strategies that will position cable to capitalize as the industry takes on new competitors and increasingly moves towards content provided over the internet, said members of cable’s C-suite and other industry experts on the second day of Cable Congress in London.

Andrew Barron, COO of Virgin Media, said, “Only the paranoid survive. Innovation, being close to our customers and finding any advantage over the competition is key. The next decade of cable is about mobile, B2B and extending the relationship with the customer beyond the home.” He added: “We are a very innovative industry and we should be proud of this.”

According to Guy Bisson of IHS Screen Digest, “Telecoms services are becoming core because of the way cable has positioned itself through bundling.” However, he noted that cable is now moving beyond the mobile quad play and toward bundling of Wi-Fi services in and outside the home.  Bisson’s research shows that there are 1.4m fewer cable homes than five years ago, but 17.7m more RGUs – that is because for every analogue customer lost, 13 new RGUs are added.

A recurring theme has been the need for operators to keep the customer at the forefront – innovating to deliver products they want and at a competitive cost. Discussions on the pan-European C-Suite panel showed that these customer strategies can differ market-by-market. Manuel Cubero, COO, Kabel Deutschland Holding AG highlighted the importance of fibre, network capacity and speed: “In Germany the customer wants to download as much as possible through their network. We are investing 26% of our revenues in CapEx every year and most of it is on fibre.” This contrasts to the UK market where consumers give preference to selecting the package that best suits their needs. Luis Lopes, COO of Portugal’s ZON, added: “We are trying to sell an experience not products,” an approach that helped his company grow revenues 3 percent in 2012 despite an economic downturn in Portugal.

Consolidation will also continue to play an important strategic role for cable going forward.  According to industry heavyweights in the ‘Financing Cable Growth’ session, the outlook for cable investment is strong. Marisa Drew Managing Director, Co-Head of Global Markets Solutions Group, Credit Suisse said the market was ready for IPOs and could be receptive to well-priced listings in the sector.  Drew also called the Virgin Media / Liberty Global tie-up a game changer and seminal moment for financing markets post-crisis.  “This says that the M&A market is back if it makes industrial logic. Cable has always been seen as a sector that delivers so to the extent that cable deals can be made, they can be financed.”