Premiere to relaunch as Sky
As reported by Rapid TV News, German pay-TV operator Premiere will market its bouquets under the name Sky after its relaunch in July. The management board, with approval from the supervisory board, has decided to discontinue the use of the brand Premiere. The value of the Premiere trademark will therefore be written off in the second quarter with a negative impact on net income of €256.1 million.
Subject to approval by shareholders at the annual general meeting, the name of the company will be changed from Premiere AG to Sky Deutschland AG. According to a press release issued by the Munich-based broadcaster, the decision to launch a new service under the Sky brand is part of the management’s commitment to focus the business on its customers and to raise the bar of pay-TV in Germany and Austria. Details of the new pricing and package structure will be announced at the beginning of June.
“We intend to make changes that will fundamentally improve the experience for customers,” said CEO Mark Williams. “Becoming Sky underscores our commitment to offer a world-class entertainment service in Germany and Austria. The Sky brand stands for the best choice of television entertainment available, giving customers high-quality programming that they cannot find elsewhere, putting innovative services into their homes and improving satisfaction with strong customer service.” A spokesman stressed that for existing subscribers nothing would change, with contracts continuing to run as previously.
Within the industry, the name change has been expected. International media concern News Corp, which with 30.5% is the largest single shareholder in Premiere, uses the trademark Sky for its pay-TV offers in the UK and Italy.
Premiere has also released its quarterly figures, revealing that the broadcaster has incurred further subscription losses. At the end of the first quarter on 31 March the company had 2.37 million customers – 28,000 less than at the end of 2008. With the costly closure of security gaps in its encryption system last year, Premiere hoped to put a stop to the downward trend.
Turnover rose slightly in the first quarter in comparison with the previous year’s period from €231.0 million to €232.7 million, while EBITDA slid deep into the red with a minus of €29.8 million. In the first quarter of 2008 the company was able to record a positive EBITDA of €2.9 million. The net loss rose from €28.1 million to €80.0 million. With extensive plans in the fields of sales & marketing and customer service, Premiere hopes to push subscription figures up after the July relaunch. However, a net profit is not now expected until 2011.
Some much needed good news for Premiere came from Bavaria’s media authority BLM, which approved the broadcaster’s licence application for four new thematic channels. The services carry the working titles Premiere Sp-1, Premiere Sp-2, Premiere Sp-3 and Premiere Hits.
The first three offers will be sports channels reporting on national and international sporting events. The focus of Premiere Sp-1 will be the 1st and 2nd divisions of the soccer Bundesliga, while Premiere Sp-2 will feature the DFB Pokal (German football federation cup), international soccer, motor sport, ice hockey, golf and tennis. Premiere Sp-3 will have the same focus as Sp-2 and additionally offer further sports.
Premiere Hits is a movie channel which will screen current blockbusters and previous years’ releases. Germany’s anti-media-concentration commission KEK has already given the green light to the new channels.