Looking to spark customer growth in sluggish regions including The Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium, Liberty Global has announced the deployment of its next-generation video platform, Horizon 4.
The platform combines linear TV with cloud digital video recording, video-on-demand, voice remote capabilities, mobile “go” features and integrated over-the-top apps, including Netflix and YouTube. It’s already battle-tested, with Liberty deploying it across around 2 million homes in the United Kingdom, where it has been combined with Arris set-tops and TiVo software and marketed under the V6 brand. Liberty Media reported an uptick of 45,000 TV customers across Virgin Media system in the second quarter.
But CEO Mike Fries conceded Liberty Global faces “a pretty tough competitive environment” in places like Switzerland, where Liberty lost 54,000 customers in Q2, more than half of them in video.
Liberty — which announced the deployment at its “Tech Summit,” an event held within in conjunction with the IBC Show in Amsterdam — has tested the platform in 10,000 homes across multiple Euro systems.
The platform uses the Reference Design Kit, an open-source software for set-tops that has been jointly developed by Liberty, Comcast and Charter Communications.
Liberty said the hardware and user interfaces of the Horizon 4 product suite were developed in-house by teams based at Liberty Global’s tech campus in Schiphol-Rijk in The Netherlands, together with various teams in other countries and with external partners across Europe.
“Our teams develop a common set of products and services, which are then rolled out across our local operating companies,” said Enrique Rodriguez, the former TiVo CEO who is now Liberty Global’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, in a statement. “This allows us to achieve significant scale and operating synergies.”
Added Mark Giesbers, Liberty Global’s vice president of entertainment products: “We want to add value to customers’ lives and deliver on their expectation of ‘any content, any device, anywhere, anytime.’ That means aggregating all those TV channels, movies, series and apps into one easy-to-use, seamless viewing experience — and across multiple devices. The new Horizon 4 platform with its 4K set-top box, the remote with voice control and the improved mobile app allows us to do exactly that.”