Cable Congress 2013 - 3Vision Highlights
20 Mar 2013
The annual Cable Congress was held in London this month and as usual attracted many of the leaders of the European cable TV industry as well as high profile content and technology providers.
The UPC/Liberty team usually outnumber everyone else at this event, but this year they were particularly high profile in the aftermath of their deal to acquire UK operator Virgin Media. As they become easily the biggest player in European Pay TV it is inevitable they will, to some extent, set the agenda for the market now. Their CEO Mike Fries was the subject of reasonably probing interview:
- A quad-play bundle including mobile is becoming more important for them, but they probably won’t acquire mobile operators
- Their focus seems be on their “big 5” markets UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Where does that leave formerly higher profile CEE markets for them?
- Increased involvement in content such as bidding for more high profile sports rights or buying a big content provider were ruled out – does this mean reduced commitment to their own content company Chellomedia?
Click here to watch Mike Fries' speaker interview at Cable Congress
Click here to watch Mike Fries' CNBC interview at Cable Congress
“The Cloud” is becoming important for cable. Zon’s Timewarp service is one of the most extensive examples of the principle. Zon subscribers with access to Timewarp can chose to record all programming from 80 channels automatically and watch it up to seven days after transmission. Zon COO Luis Lopez stated that 70% of subs with access use it every day and that it delivers a 9.1 out of 10 satisfaction score.
Click here to view Zon's Timewarp TV commercial
Click here to access Zon's Cable Congress keynote presentation
Wifi has also emerged as a new focus for cable. Virgin launched a wifi service in the London underground prior to the 2012 Olympics and Zon already has a network of 500,000 hot spots across Portugal.
We don’t normally comment on technical standards discussions but Docsis 3.1 is an important development as it will allow cable operators to deliver broadband access with download speeds up to 10GB – allowing them to compete with telcos and utility companies building out fibre networks. Right now European cable operators average 32mb/s but Manuel Cubero COO of Kabel Deutschland made it clear that speed is important even if consumers don’t need or fully understand it. Just mentioning the word “fibre” in advertising guarantees much more of a response than a more sophisticated or complex message.
Click here to view Kabel Deutschland's high speed broadband TV commercial
So we left the conference with the feeling that cable is more confident of its future than after some previous events – with better products, a stronger financial position and less worries about OTT competition.