Virgin Media and O2 confirm merger in blow to BT and Sky

Virgin Media and O2 confirm merger in blow to BT and Sky
(Image credit: Virgin Media)

Well that escalated quickly. Just days after rumours emerged of Virgin Media and O2  teaming up to create a new TV and mobile service in the UK, the owners of the two media giants have confirmed the partnership.

Liberty Goal, the telecomms company that owns Virgin Media, and O2 owner Telefonica have outlined details of the planned 50-50 joint venture, which has been valued at over £31 billion and is expected to be finalised in the middle of 2021.

The mega-merger will create a new communications provider that combines Virgin Media’s v6 video service and giga-ready broadband with O2’s 5G-ready mobile solution, bringing together over 46 million video, broadband and mobile subscribers.

With plans to invest £10 billion in the UK over the next five years, the converged platform should be in a strong position to challenge media giants Sky and BT (which owns EE) in the UK. After all, Virgin has been heavily investing in widening its speedy broadband coverage while O2 continues to bulk up for wider 5G adoption.

Unsurprisingly, Virgin Media mobile customers will be moved across to Telefonica UK’s network. And it would seem likely that O2's existing provisions to other services, including and especially Sky Mobile, would terminate under the new partnership. The venture also threatens Vodafone's agreement with Virgin to take over Virgin's mobile customer base from next year until 2026.

If competition authorities allow the deal, which is likely in light of BT and EE's merger in 2016, it will create a multimedia business with annual revenues of over £11 billion.

The document doesn't detail whether the deal will affect ITV, of which Liberty Goal owns a 10 per cent stake.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

  • Friesiansam
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    Virgin has been heavily investing in widening its speedy broadband coverage
    As long as Virgin continue to ignore smaller villages, I couldn't care less what they are doing.
  • djh1697
    Virgin Media also report your details to TV licensing, not that I condone anything illegal, but a Sky subscription could save you £150/year, since they don't report you. Now TV, entertainment, and Netflix are my chosen TV package, Watch what I want to watch when I choose too watch! Roon/Tidal/Qubuz/TuneIn are my chosen digital musical services, whilst my Turntable is my most desirable source!