Virgin Media in Talks for Amazon Prime Link25 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
British cable operator Virgin Media is in discussions with Amazon to include direct access to the e-commerce behemoth’s Prime Instant Video subscription streaming service, CEO Tom Mockridge told a London media event.
While the talks are preliminary, Mockridge envisions including a link to Amazon Prime via Virgin’s TiVo set-top boxes — a strategy it currently employs with Netflix and Spotify music service.
“We are open to Amazon Prime Instant Video and we have talked to them,” Mockridge said March 20 at the Broadcasting Press Guild event. “It’s a recent rebrand for them so they’re working out their position on this.”
The CEO was referring to Amazon’s decision to rename LoveFilm Instant to Amazon Prime.
Last year, Liberty Global (former Starz LLC parent) agreed to acquire Virgin Media and its 5 million subscribers for $16 billion. About 2 million of those subs use TiVo boxes.
While Netflix has about 2 million subscribers in the United Kingdom and Ireland, according to IHS, most Virgin Media subs linking to Netflix via TiVo boxes already subscribe to the SVOD pioneer.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has publicly expressed interest in partnering with U.S. cable, satellite and telcom operators as a means of expanding brand awareness while helping MVPDs retain subscribers. Thus far, he’s had no takers.
Mockridge said Virgin’s strategy is to emulate satellite TV operator BSkyB by offering a one-stop programming shop for subscribers, including sports. Sky’s Now TV broadband service offers electronic sellthrough and rental of new release movies, in addition to streaming TV shows and sports.
“We’re the only supplier that really has the capacity you need,” Mockridge told The Guardian. "We have talked to [Amazon and] we are certainly open to it, [but] it takes two to tango.”