Virgin says Usain Bolt is boosting sales

Virgin Media yesterday claimed its decision to up its advertising spend by 50 per cent to £53m in the past quarter had paid off, as subscriber numbers jumped for its premium pay-TV and super-fast broadband.

The ad campaigns featuring the champion sprinter Usain Bolt, the Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson and the former Dr Who actor David Tennant have been a "big driver" of sales, according to the chief financial officer, Eamonn O'Hare.

The number of subscribers to TiVo, which allows viewers to watch on-demand and search and recommend programmes, shot up by 242,000 to 677,000. Subscribers for broadband also leapt by 147,000 to 844,000. However, Virgin's total cable customer base rose by only 21,000 to 4.8 million.