Liberty Global CEO Talks Netflix Integration, Content Acquisitions

Getty Images
Mike Fries

"I don't see any massive vertical integration big-bangs," Mike Fries tells the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries on Thursday touted a recent deal to integrate Netflix in more than 30 countries and its content investments, once again signaling no interest in a big content acquisition.

"The Netflix deal is an indication of the fact that we want to be a multiplatform provider of content," the exec told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York in a session that was webcast. "We want to be able to give customers the option of sitting back on their couch or wherever they are watching television and have access to all the great shows. Why should you have to change platforms to watch a great show on an OTT provider?!"

Fries said in the U.K., where 800,000 subscribers of Liberty Global's Virgin Media have the Netflix box built into their cable box already, the experience is that "they watch more television, they pay us more ... they churn less. Why? Because they have everything right there."

"They have great content, and it is not disruptive, it is additive to the overall content product that we are offering," he said about Netflix, calling the relationship a "win-win."

Asked about Liberty Global's appetite for content deals, Fries mentioned its small stake in ITV and the joint ownership, with Discovery Communications, of All3Media. The latter "is starting to provide benefits in Ireland where we [are putting] the best shows they have onto our broadcast networks," he said, calling most deals and opportunities incremental.

"I don't see any massive vertical integration big-bangs," said Fries. "The ITV thing is a great investment for us. That is a great company." He added that in the U.K., "maybe some day it could be an interesting thing for Virgin to take another step, but not today."