Liberty Global | Annual Report 2015 Liberty Global | Annual Report 2015

Becoming a
Data-Driven Company
Becoming
Data-Driven

Data is making a profound impact on the media sector by enabling content optimization, tailored promotions and personalized recommendations. These data-driven trends that we have become accustomed to in the online environment are also hitting the television. Personalized recommendations can help customers easily find content they like to watch across linear, non-linear and online platforms.  Data also has the potential to improve the advertising experience of TV viewers. 

In 2015, we launched Advanced Advertising and Data (AVAD), our new business unit focused on accelerating and leveraging our data-driven capabilities. While the commercial opportunities with data are significant, our first priority is our customers. This means that we focus first and foremost on improving the TV viewing experience of our customers while protecting their privacy.

Using Data to Create Value for Our Business and Customers

Personalization

Personalization is driving the next phase in the evolution of cable’s role as content curator. Curation consists of aggregating content that our customers want and optimizing the customer experience in finding, navigating and accessing that content. Today, our customers are faced with an abundance of programs to choose from. While we have already enabled customers to engage with video content when and how they want, we can facilitate that content journey further through data-driven personalized recommendations.

Personalized entertainment experience

Advanced advertising

One of AVAD’s key objectives is to make TV ads relevant and engaging again, which we believe is in the interest of advertisers, our programming partners and our customers. Through dynamic ad insertion, we may allow TV advertisers to differentiate between audiences and ensure that commercials are only shown to the relevant customer segments, instead of treating all customers as one. Together with our broadcast partners, we can enable this through our data insights and our advanced advertising platform, which seamlessly inserts ads into the linear and non-linear video stream.

As advertising budgets are increasingly spent across multiple platforms, broadcasters need a good solution to retain ad revenue so they can continue to fund the high quality content that our customers love to watch. We believe advanced advertising is the way forward, as it will help advertisers reach their key audiences more effectively while we ensure that our customers only see ads that are relevant to them. We aim to do that in a way that maintains the video experience our customers love.

John Paul
Managing Director
of AVAD

Customers don’t hate ads; they hate being interrupted and not having control. As we look at new ad models we want to give customers more control over their ad experience, so they don’t feel interrupted. Our objective is to bring the ad world into a true multiplatform play. If you have a platform that is able to deliver ads like that, reaching all devices in an intelligent way without interrupting the customer, it will be a total game changer.

Audience measurement

Another major opportunity is the use of our data to generate content insights. Compared with panel-based traditional TV audience measurement, we are able to more accurately measure viewership of programs and ads across all content platforms. Based on aggregated data, we are able to provide reliable audience measurement across platforms and identify trends in viewing behavior.

In 2015, we started engaging with advertisers, broadcasters and content studios on how our insights could help them better understand how their content is consumed and inform decision-making on content licensing, program scheduling and media planning.

Delivering great Customer Experiences

Data doesn’t only help us develop new business models, it also provides us with the intelligence we need to run our business more effectively and become a more customer-centric company. By knowing when and how customers use our services, we can better anticipate bandwidth needs and optimize capacity allocation across the network to always deliver a consistent quality of service. At the same time, data on the popularity of certain content puts us in a better position to secure popular films and series that customers want.

At the same time, data that shows consumer appetite for certain content puts us in a better position to secure popular films and series that customers want.

Data provides us with the intelligence to run our business effectively and become a more customer-centric company Data provides us with the intelligence to run our business effectively and become a more customer-centric company
Data provides us with the intelligence to run our business effectively and become a more customer-centric company

Accelerating our data capabilities

Our advanced analytics unit is focused on enabling actionable insights from data to optimize business performance, customer support and innovate products. In 2016, we will launch an executive dashboard that leverages our audience measurement insights to inform our own business decisions. Insights into our customers’ interests ensure that we procure content that people actually want to watch.

It will also help us approach customers with promotions they appreciate and products they like. We are exploring partnerships with leading universities to ensure that we keep abreast of state-of-the-art developments in advanced analytics, data anonymization and big data ethics.

Protecting our customers’ privacy is a priority

While customer data represents significant business opportunities, harnessing our customers’ trust remains our number one priority. Building on our earlier ‘Digital Confidence’ (2008) and ‘The Value of Our Digital Identity’ (2012) thought-leadership campaigns, we follow three guiding principles for how we deal with our customers’ data: Transparency, Control and Shared Value.

Whatever we do, we believe customers should be well-informed about the purposes for which we intend to use their data and they should have control at all times to determine their data-sharing levels. In addition, everything we do should be focused on adding value to our customers. If customers understand how we are using their data to improve the user experience, they will be more willing to share their data.

Notes

Information presented in our Online Annual Report is as of December 31, 2015, unless otherwise stated. Highlights that refer to statements such as ‘current’ or ‘to date’ are as of our earnings release dated February 15, 2016.

Forward-Looking Statements

This online Annual Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including our expectations with respect to our future growth prospects. See pages I-5, I-6 and I-7 of the Annual Report on Form 10-K available on this website for a description of other forward-looking statements included in this review and certain of the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. 

Notes on Defined Terms

When reviewing and analyzing our operating results and statistics, it is important to keep in mind that other third party entities own significant interests in certain of our subsidiaries. For additional information, see note 18 to our consolidated financial statements in the Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Financial metrics

  1. As used herein, operating cash flow or OCF has the same meaning as the term “Adjusted OIBDA” that is referenced in our Form 10-K. For our definition of Adjusted OIBDA and the related reconciliation, see note 18 to our consolidated financial statements in the Annual Report on Form 10-K. 
  2. Rebased revenue and OCF growth is presented to show growth on a comparable basis by neutralizing the effects of acquisitions and foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations. For purposes of calculating rebased revenue and OCF growth, we have adjusted our historical 2014 revenue and OCF to (i) include the pre-acquisition revenue and OCF of certain entities acquired during 2014 and 2015 in the respective 2014 rebased amounts to the same extent that the revenue and OCF of such entities are included in our 2015 results and (ii) reflect the translation of our 2014 rebased amounts at the applicable average exchange rates that were used to translate our 2015 results.
  3. Our OCF margin is calculated by dividing OCF by total revenue for the applicable period. 
  4. We define free cash flow or FCF as net cash provided by our operating activities, plus (i) excess tax benefits related to the exercise of share-based incentive awards, (ii) cash payments for third-party costs directly associated with successful and unsuccessful acquisitions and dispositions and (iii) expenses financed by an intermediary, less (a) capital expenditures, as reported in our consolidated statements of cash flows, (b) principal payments on amounts financed by vendors and intermediaries and (c) principal payments on capital leases (exclusive of the portions of the network lease in Belgium and the duct leases in Germany that we assumed in connection with certain acquisitions), with each item excluding any cash provided or used by our discontinued operations. For additional information concerning these definitions and calculations, please see our earnings release dated February 15, 2016.
  5. Basis of Presentation: with the exception of Net earnings (loss) and Net earnings (loss) attributable to Liberty Global shareholders, all Operating and Financial information contained herein is that of our continuing operations.
  6. Revenue, OCF and Operating Income for the year ended 2015. For a reconciliation of combined OCF to operating income, see our earnings releases dated February 15, 2016.

Subscriber metrics

  1. Unless otherwise indicated in this online Annual Report, subscriber growth statistics exclude subscribers of acquired entities at the date of acquisition, but include the impact of changes in subscribers from the date of acquisition. These statistics are presented on a net basis.
  2. Homes Passed are homes, residential multiple dwelling units or commercial units that can be connected to our networks without materially extending the distribution plant, except for DTH and Multi-channel Multipoint (“microwave”) Distribution System (“MMDS”) homes. Our Homes Passed counts are based on census data that can change based on either revisions to the data or from new census results. We do not count homes passed for DTH. With respect to MMDS, one MMDS customer is equal to one Home Passed. Due to the fact that we do not own the partner networks (defined below) used in Switzerland and the Netherlands (see note 11) we do not report homes passed for Switzerland’s and the Netherlands’ partner networks.
  3. Two-way Homes Passed are Homes Passed by those sections of our networks that are technologically capable of providing two-way services, including video, internet and telephony services.
  4. Customer Relationships are the number of customers who receive at least one of our video, internet or telephony services that we count as Revenue Generating Units (“RGUs”), without regard to which or to how many services they subscribe. To the extent that RGU counts include equivalent billing unit (“EBU”) adjustments, we reflect corresponding adjustments to our Customer Relationship counts. For further information regarding our EBU calculation, see Additional General Notes to Tables. Customer Relationships generally are counted on a unique premises basis. Accordingly, if an individual receives our services in two premises (e.g., a primary home and a vacation home), that individual generally will count as two Customer Relationships. We exclude mobile-only customers from Customer Relationships.
  5. Revenue Generating Unit or "RGU" is separately a Basic Video Subscriber, Enhanced Video Subscriber, DTH Subscriber, MMDS Subscriber, Internet Subscriber or Telephony Subscriber. A home, residential multiple dwelling unit, or commercial unit may contain one or more RGUs. For example, if a residential customer in our Austrian market subscribed to our enhanced video service, telephony service and broadband internet service, the customer would constitute three RGUs. Total RGUs is the sum of Basic Video, Enhanced Video, DTH, MMDS, Internet and Telephony Subscribers. RGUs generally are counted on a unique premises basis such that a given premises does not count as more than one RGU for any given service. On the other hand, if an individual receives one of our services in two premises (e.g., a primary home and a vacation home), that individual will count as two RGUs for that service. Each bundled cable, internet or telephony service is counted as a separate RGU regardless of the nature of any bundling discount or promotion. Non-paying subscribers are counted as subscribers during their free promotional service period. Some of these subscribers may choose to disconnect after their free service period. Services offered without charge on a long-term basis (e.g., VIP subscribers, free service to employees) generally are not counted as RGUs. We do not include subscriptions to mobile services in our externally reported RGU counts. In this regard, our December 31, 2015 RGU counts exclude our separately reported postpaid and prepaid mobile subscribers.
  6. Basic Video Subscriber is a home, residential multiple dwelling unit or commercial unit that receives our video service over our broadband network either via an analog video signal or via a digital video signal without subscribing to any recurring monthly service that requires the use of encryption-enabling technology. Encryption-enabling technology includes smart cards, or other integrated or virtual technologies that we use to provide our enhanced service offerings. With the exception of RGUs that we count on an EBU basis, we count RGUs on a unique premises basis. In other words, a subscriber with multiple outlets in one premises is counted as one RGU and a subscriber with two homes and a subscription to our video service at each home is counted as two RGUs. In Europe, we have approximately 133,800 “lifeline” customers that are counted on a per connection basis, representing the least expensive regulated tier of video cable service, with only a few channels.
  7. Enhanced Video Subscriber is a home, residential multiple dwelling unit or commercial unit that receives our video service over our broadband network or through a partner network via a digital video signal while subscribing to any recurring monthly service that requires the use of encryption-enabling technology. Enhanced Video Subscribers that are not counted on an EBU basis are counted on a unique premises basis. For example, a subscriber with one or more set-top boxes that receives our video service in one premises is generally counted as just one subscriber. An Enhanced Video Subscriber is not counted as a Basic Video Subscriber. As we migrate customers from basic to enhanced video services, we report a decrease in our Basic Video Subscribers equal to the increase in our Enhanced Video Subscribers. Subscribers to enhanced video services provided by our operations in Switzerland and the Netherlands over partner networks receive basic video services from the partner networks as opposed to our operations.
  8. DTH Subscriber is a home, residential multiple dwelling unit or commercial unit that receives our video programming broadcast directly via a geosynchronous satellite.
  9. MMDS Subscriber is a home, residential multiple dwelling unit or commercial unit that receives our video programming via a MMDS.
  10. Internet Subscriber is a home, residential multiple dwelling unit or commercial unit that receives internet services over our networks, or that we service through a partner network. Our Internet Subscribers exclude 53,000 digital subscriber line (“DSL”) subscribers within Austria that are not serviced over our networks. Our Internet Subscribers do not include customers that receive services from dial-up connections. In Switzerland, we offer a 2 Mbps internet service to our Basic and Enhanced Video Subscribers without an incremental recurring fee. Our Internet Subscribers in Switzerland include 100,000 subscribers who have requested and received this service.
  11. Telephony Subscriber is a home, residential multiple dwelling unit or commercial unit that receives voice services over our networks, or that we service through a partner network. Telephony Subscribers exclude mobile telephony subscribers. Our Telephony Subscribers exclude 41,300 subscribers within Austria that are not serviced over our networks. In Switzerland, we offer a basic phone service to our Basic and Enhanced Video Subscribers without an incremental recurring fee. Our Telephony Subscribers in Switzerland include 57,200 subscribers who have requested and received this service.
  12. Pursuant to service agreements, Switzerland and, to a much lesser extent, the Netherlands offer enhanced video, broadband internet and telephony services over networks owned by third-party cable operators (“partner networks”). A partner network RGU is only recognized if there is a direct billing relationship with the customer. At December 31, 2015, Switzerland’s partner networks account for 139,500 Customer Relationships, 284,400 RGUs, 104,400 Enhanced Video Subscribers, 106,600 Internet Subscribers, and 73,400 Telephony Subscribers.

Additional general notes to tables:

Most of our broadband communications subsidiaries provide telephony, broadband internet, data, video or other B2B services. Certain of our B2B revenue is derived from small or home office (“SOHO”) subscribers that pay a premium price to receive enhanced service levels along with video, internet or telephony services that are the same or similar to the mass marketed products offered to our residential subscribers. All mass marketed products provided to SOHOs, whether or not accompanied by enhanced service levels and/or premium prices, are included in the respective RGU and customer counts of our broadband communications operations, with only those services provided at premium prices considered to be “SOHO RGUs” or “SOHO customers”. With the exception of our B2B SOHO subscribers, we generally do not count customers of B2B services as customers or RGUs for external reporting purposes.

Certain of our residential and commercial RGUs are counted on an EBU basis, including residential multiple dwelling units and commercial establishments such as bars, hotels and hospitals in Chile and Puerto Rico and certain commercial and residential multiple dwelling units in Europe (with the exception of Germany and Belgium, where we do not count any RGUs on an EBU basis). Our EBUs are generally calculated by dividing the bulk price charged to accounts in an area by the most prevalent price charged to non-bulk residential customers in that market for the comparable tier of service. As such, we may experience variances in our EBU counts solely as a result of changes in rates. In Germany, homes passed reflect the footprint and two-way homes passed reflect the technological capability of our network up to the street cabinet, with drops from the street cabinet to the building generally added, and in-home wiring generally upgraded, on an as needed or success-based basis. In Belgium, Telenet leases a portion of its network under a long-term capital lease arrangement. These tables include operating statistics for Telenet's owned and leased networks.

While we take appropriate steps to ensure that subscriber statistics are presented on a consistent and accurate basis at any given balance sheet date, the variability from country to country in (i) the nature and pricing of products and services, (ii) the distribution platform, (iii) billing systems, (iv) bad debt collection experience and (v) other factors add complexity to the subscriber counting process. We periodically review our subscriber counting policies and underlying systems to improve the accuracy and consistency of the data reported on a prospective basis. Accordingly, we may from time to time make appropriate adjustments to our subscriber statistics based on those reviews.

Subscriber information for acquired entities is preliminary and subject to adjustment until we have completed our review of such information and determined that it is presented in accordance with our policies.

Promotional videos

The promotional videos included in this online Annual Report are examples of recent marketing campaigns. The videos may contain information and product offerings that are no longer valid.