Virgin Media signs up millionth customer for online TV service

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Adverts featuring actors Stephen Fry and David Tennant have helped Virgin Media’s TiVo service sign up its millionth customer as the battle for online TV viewers gathers pace.

Virgin Media claimed its internet-connected TV service TiVo added 261,700 customers, bringing the total to 938,800 for the second quarter of 2012 before it hit the one million customer mark this week.

TiVo’s popularity helped Virgin to record more growth in overall paying TV customers, up 38,000 in the quarter, as it slugs it out with rivals BT and Sky for a bigger share of the growing online market.

Virgin Media’s results were also boosted by strong take-up of its superfast broadband offer, with customer numbers rising nearly half a million to 1.3 million, helping its operating cash flow increase five per cent to £412m.

Chief executive Neil Berkett said: “We are well placed to benefit from the fast-growing demand for superfast broadband and TiVo positions us well to lead the evolving TV market.”

The TiVo set-top box, which is connected to the internet through Virgin’s cable network, allows viewers to rewind programmes they might otherwise had missed.

BT, which is due to update the market this week, is also expected to report strong growth in its BT Infinity superfast broadband and BT Vision, its video and TV on demand service.

The fight over the growing online TV market is set to gather pace after BT joined forces with other big names in the industry to develop YouView, an internet connected set-top box.

And Sky recently launched pay-as-you-go internet TV service Now TV.

Overall, Virgin customer numbers slipped by 14,700 over the quarter, which was slightly higher than City expectations in a time of the year which is normally quieter for the group.

But revenues rose 4.2 per cent to £1bn.