John Malone’s Liberty Global has extended its distibution deal with A+E Networks and is also launching two new HD channels in the UK. The long-term pan-European carriage deal covers A+E Networks’ UK channels on Liberty Global platforms in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Lifetime and H2 will be also now be available in HD in both the UK and Ireland for the first time.
All current A+E Networks UK channels remain on their existing Liberty Global platforms as part of the enhanced deal, reaching a subscriber base in excess of 15.5 million.The History channel has also been added to basic packages in the Netherlands, Hungary and Romania, adding almost three million additional subscribers. The deal also includes non-linear rights.
Liberty Global is the largest cable company in the world, with 27 million customers across 14 countries. Assets include Virgin Media, Unity Media and Ziggo. The company is looking to diversify its offering by owning more wireless assets so it can get into the quad play business, offeringTV, landline phone, broadband Internet and wireless service.
The company has been on an acquisitions tear of late. Liberty Global, along with Discovery Communications, closed a deal last year to acquire production powerhouse All3Media, which in turn this March closed a deal to acquire Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions. Liberty Global has since upped its stake in British broadcaster ITV to 9.9% from 6.4% as well as closing a deal to acquire Ireland’s TV3 in July.