back to article Virgin Media sales flat: Firm bags fewer winter sign-ups than last year

Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet during its final quarter, compared with the same three-month period a year earlier. The telco, which is owned by US cable giant Liberty Global, crumbled up against strong competition from rivals BT and BSkyB. It pulled in just over 39,000 broadband customers …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

    "Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet" Sounds disastrous for VM, How far has the number of subscribers fallen to warrant the comment - this article lacks supporting figures. Is it 10%, 20%, millions?

    1. EddieD

      Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

      It saw the number of new subscribers fall from 62700 to 39000 in comparable financial quarters.

      Maybe running out of folk in it's cabled areas, and folk on ADSL broadband can get cheaper services, uncapped.

      1. MrWibble

        Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

        So how many left the service during the period?

        From the numbers given in the report, it seems that the rate of increase has "plummeted" - not exactly the same as losing subscribers though.

      2. Micky 1

        Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

        "folk on ADSL broadband can get cheaper services, uncapped."

        Virgin offer me (and I actually get) a 60Mb connection for less than any uncapped ADSL provider can offer their 20Mb service (where I actually only get around 6Mb/sec). There are no caps. The only thing they do is throttle you.

        So if I download more than 3.6GB over an hour I get reduced to a snail like 54Mb/sec, and if I hit 4.5Gb over a 2hr period they reduce it EVEN FURTHER to 50.4Mb/sec. Still more than 8 times faster than any ADSL provider can give me and fast enough that it's almost impossible to tell that you have been affected at all...Upload is reduced by a higher amount but never to below 1Mb/sec.

        The Superhub is still total shit though.

        1. Lost in Cyberspace

          Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

          May be much better than my Adsl, but there's no chance of it ever arriving to the majority of the UK, so they will struggle to sign up customers, no matter how superior... :(

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

        You might be right there given the bombardment I get from VM with all sorts of offers to sign up. Sadly even signing up does not stop the bombardment as my next door neighbor can testify.

        I've started collecting it all and putting it in a large oversize (free picking from any employer who went belly up some years ago) and putting it in a letterbox unstamped naturally to their return address in the Dark Satanic Mills of Halifax (or thereabouts).

        I'd really rejoice if they stopped sending me the crap. If I could get someone at VM to understand that I WILL NEVER EVER SIGN UP TO YOUR SERVICE (or the one from BT or Sky for that matter) I'd even raise a pint to them.

        Fat chance of that then...

        Well past beer O'clock here in South India. Kingfisher anyone?

        1. Steven Jones

          Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

          One reason why everybody in an area, signed up or not, gets multicasted with VM sales guff is that it has to be unaddressed in order to avoid the Mail Preference System (MPS) restrictions. By law, no company can send sales material via direct mail to any address registered under the MPS (with a few exceptions, such as if you are a customer of the company concerned). By doing a blanket street-by-street delivery, it doesn't count as direct mail and the Royal Mail are under no obligation not to deliver such stuff to MPS registered addresses. Also, the RM will provide blanket street-by-street deliveries at a far lower cost than addressed direct mail.

          It would be relatively easy for the government to introduce a scheme for indirect sales material. A simple scheme, whereby householders could fit a small preference notice to their door, would do the job cheaply, and with minimum overhead. My suspicion is no such scheme has been introduced as it's a useful source of income for the Royal Mail.

          Of course it's not just the RM that delivers junk mail. My letter box gets filled with such stuff for pizza delivery, taxi firms and the like.

          1. Fuzz

            Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

            "My suspicion is no such scheme has been introduced as it's a useful source of income for the Royal Mail."

            There's already a system for opting out of un-addressed mail.

            That should stop the virgin stuff.

            1. RonWheeler

              Re: Virgin Media watched subscriptions to its broadband service plummet?

              Thanks. The single most useful post I've ever read in The Reg :)

              Suspect it own't get honoured, but worth a punt. Wonder if the local curry houses can get prosecuted?

            2. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Unaddressed mail

              RM dont give a toss about unaddressed mail. I'm hoping that they will go bust - the post boxes round here are full of the unaddressed mail they keep sending despite multiple opt-outs.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: folk on ADSL broadband can get cheaper services, uncapped

        not so. Consider my case (pretty average):


        7 Mb adsl, 60 GB cap (ok, uncapped midnight - morning), shitty ftp upload speeds, traffic management (aka throttling), but in general, good service.

        The cost:

        15 quid for the internet

        about 15 quid for the bt line (line rental)

        about 4 quid per quarter on the phone bill for... not making enough phonecalls (not kidding!)

        about 6 quid per quarter to actually PAY them the bill (not kidding!)

        That's about 35 squid per month

        against Virgin, the cheapest decent phone/cable internet package (no tv, thankyou):


        The difference though: the speed, about 5 x that of plusnet, on top of this, priceless satisfaction, that BT get not a penny from me.

        The only thing that worries me is that Virgin is "family oriented", in plain English - (...) rules about throttling, censorship, etc. Plus, I imagine, relentless pressure to take on the subscription of their glorious tv channel shite. But I don't mind telling them, every now and then, where to stick their offer.

        1. Creamy-G00dness

          Re: re: folk on ADSL broadband can get cheaper services, uncapped

          Erm.......that's not about £35 buddy its £40

  2. Christine Hedley

    Dear Householder ...

    Does this mean I can now look forward to even more MPS-dodging letterbox spam from Virgin? How lovely.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: Dear Householder ...

      It's (perhaps) even more frustrating for someone who already has broadband, TV, land line and mobile with them to keep receiving their letterbox spam.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dear Householder ...

        More frustrating is when, like half the population, you couldn't get their service even if you wanted it, but they still send you their spam.

        1. RonWheeler

          Re: Dear Householder ...

          More frustrating still is that when you already have the package, they give it away for half price to new subscribers. Existing subscribers, stuff you.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly surprising ...

    I stay with VM out of inertia, and the fact that even on the cheapest broadband package I get blistering internet (30MBs). However I dislike their channel bundling (not sure why I should have to subscribe to more expensive packages just to get HD of certain channels) and their telephone service is sucky (paying to block premium numbers)

    In fact I probably use the internet to download shows more than I watch the actual TV.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not much scope for growth

    There are about 27m households in the UK, VM cable passes roughly half of them, so their potential customer base is something like 14m. If they already have 4.9m customers that's a 35% market share already. In a competitive market up against BT and the rest, who offer both good-enough ADSL and comparable FTTC services to most if not all the areas VM can service, it doesn't seem to me that VM realistically has much scope to grow customer numbers.

  5. Tim 11

    Everyone can't gain market share every year

    Why does our economic system seem to be predicated on the impossible vision that consumers have to buy things at a constantly accelerating rate so that all suppliers can sell more and more of everything every year?

    Personally I'm happy with my existing broadband, my existing telly, my existing laptop (and until I was forced to upgrade to windows 8, I was happy with my existing version of windows too)

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: Everyone can't gain market share every year

      Possibly many/most commentingpersons are too young to remember the Equity Funding financial scandal in the US, where they had to 'sell' (that is, invent) more and more life assurance policies each year to keep the rate of growth up, and the share price high. When the whole thing collapsed, someone calculated that if the 'fraudulent' growth had continued, then in only a few years' time every single person in the US would have had one of their policies!

    2. Grease Monkey

      Re: Everyone can't gain market share every year

      Of course not everyone can gain market share every year, but that's not to say everyone can't gain customers every year. The market is growing year on year.

      Regardless of the above it is the aim of most business to grow its market share every year. That's how you keep the shareholders happy. And the way you do that is to steal customers from the competition.

      Where VM fall down is that they are not extending their network.

      BT and Sky are extending their fibre services as we all know. What some don't seem to have realized or at least considered is that some of the areas are those where previously only VM could provide superfast broadband. So those VM customers are suddenly presented with competing services to choose from. But BT and Sky are also expanding into area that VM don't cover while VM are expanding into nowhere, so VM are losing on the swings and the roundabouts. Losing customers to the competition while finding it hard to steal customers from the competition.

      VM and NTL Telewest before them decided just to make money out of the existing network. The original vision for the fibre rollout was that it would expand to cover everywhere that BT covers, but once NTL Telewest owned the whole thing there was no more competition and no need to expand.

      Now there's fibre competition from Sky and BT the need to expand is back, but there's a lot of inertia to overcome at VM. And the competition has really stolen a march on them.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had virgin media broadband, would never touch it again due to congestion, throttling and many other issues it suffered from. If this feeling is common among ex-vm customers then I expect they will have a hard time convincing any previous customers to return unless they beat them in to submission with a forest killing amount of advertising through their doors.

    The sheer amount of rubbish they send through the door needs to be investigated, as well as pre-checked by the advertising standards agency considering how much of it they ban as misleading, after the mailing campaign is over.

  7. Justa

    Many people are put off by the £5 per month Tivo tax (which VM try to bury in their 'collections', but is still there) for features they don't want. Sure, many people love Tivo, but many more have no need of it.

    What people really wanted was a modernisation of the V+ box (1 or 2 TB) and a £5 per month lower bill.

  8. eJ2095


    Rang them up to moan about there recent price increase.

    was paying 55 now down to 40

    Getting 60mb, Tivio with M+ and the telephone which has got a thick layer of dust on it.

    THe broadband does get hammered though

    and got them to send me the super dud 2 as most devices shifted onto 5ghz band

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All these posts about VM and just about every single one is about their broadband. I used them for their TV but when it became impossible for them to provide standard def TV pictures that didn't break up into mush and were worse quality than freeview over a 20 year old aerial install I gave up. When I said I was leaving and why they promised an engineer.. I pointed out that as the box, the card, the filter box, the internal and external cabling had all been replaced there wasn't much left to change apart from the cable run from the cabinet about 300 yards away. They gave up at that point.

  10. BOBSta

    It's (partly) my fault!

    I moved house from a cabled area to a non-cabled area and cancelled my subscription. I used to love my old 60 meg service. It was rock solid dependable and properly "super-fast", I never had a problem in the last 3 years.

    I still want fast cable interwebs at my new house, but VM are not interested in selling it to me! They apparently "have no plans to expand their existing network for the foreseeable future", even though they have cable in the next town, less than three quarters of a mile away.

    I would LMAO at the ineptitude of local government, housing developers, BT and VM to get the act together with the roll out of rural broadband... But as I'm suffering from it, I can't. :(


  11. Nifty

    Not an entrepeneurial bone in Virgin Media's body.

    There is a Virgin Media cable cabinet outside my building - block of 40 newly developed flats. Neighbours to the right and left have VIrgin cable. I phoned and Virgin have no interest in even looking at the issue of connecting anyone in the new block. Something abut a standing policy of not connecting new developments.

    To add insult to injury, they are carpet bombing the everyone at this address with leaflets imploring us to sign up!

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