More room for consolidation, better regulation
(Brussels, 13 March) The outlook for the cable industry in a converging and competitive environment remains bright, according to leading executives, analysts and commentators at Cable Congress this week in Brussels. To realise cable’s potential, industry executives called for investment-friendly policies in order to drive further innovation for consumers. Continued network investment will be critical amid predictions of massive growth in content consumption and interactions online.
A number of financial experts including Clif Marriott of Goldman Sachs continue to believe that the industry has healthy prospects. “Market sentiment towards cable is positive. The main players are engaged in a lot of market activity and they are trading at double-digit multiples driven by strong business performances”, Marriott remarked.
Andrew Barron, Chairman of Swedish operator Com Hem, emphasised the important role cable plays in the innovation ecosystem. For that to continue, he urged the regulatory community to continue to allow consolidation so cable can compete with its much larger competitors. Philipp Humm, CEO Europe for Vodafone, similarly said: “Convergence requires intelligent regulation that allows for both in-market and cross-border consolidation. So far we have received positive signals and we hope they will be followed by action.”
“The next five years will see more consolidation, which is needed to meet consumer demand for ubiquitous connectivity,” said Mike Fries, President & CEO of Liberty Global. This approach would be good news for some cable executives from Central & Eastern Europe who say consolidation is needed in a number of their highly-fragmented and intensely competitive markets.
Convergence of operators and business models amid the continued uptake in digital is all about giving customers more for their money: more channels, more choice, more functionality and better services. This in turn drives customer loyalty as competitors vie for attention from consumers.
Peter Dorr, MD Strategic Marketing at Liberty GIobal, said that “there is a significant opportunity to grow our business by being much more personal.” Marcus Banks, Executive Director of Customer Experience at Virgin Media agreed, adding “our new customised approach to customer service has resulted in significantly lower churn rates.” In Central & Eastern Europe, where Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is significantly lower than other parts of the world, there is a similar focus on building value and strong brands, because according to Severina Pascu, CEO of UPC Romania & Hungary, 30 percent of the population is adopting technology quickly and willing to pay.
In summing up the Congress, Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman of Cable Europe, commented: “The last few days have left me incredibly energised about cable’s future. We’re an industry that is embracing competition by actively investing in networks, technology and innovation, moving into mobile and partnering closer than ever before with content players, over the top platforms and apps developers. This drive and willingness to collaborate, combined with an appropriate regulatory approach will ensure European consumers receive some of the best connectivity and content experiences in the world.