Premiere losses up, subscribers down

German pay TV platform under restructure

CANNES -- Net losses soared and subscribers slipped at Premiere as CEO Mark Williams wrestles with his restructuring of the German pay TV platform.

Premiere on Thursday also officially announced it was rebranding Premiere as Sky Deutschland, reinforcing News Corp's hold on the company, in which it controls a 30% stake. News Corp. already operates pay-TV platforms in Britain and Italy under the Sky brand.

The name change comes at a cost. The value of the Premiere brand will be struck from the books, at a net cost of €256 million ($348 million) in Q2.

In the first quarter of this year, Premiere booked an €80 million ($109 million) net loss, up from minus €28 million a year earlier and lost some 28,000 subscribers, bringing its total base to 2.37 million.

But there were some signs of progress, with debt trimmed slightly and operative cash flow improving to a still troubling minus €14.2 million ($19 million) from minus €46 million in the first quarter last year.

Premiere shares gained 5.4% in early trading Thursday to €1.77 ($2.4). But given the fact Premiere was trading at €2 just last week, it's hard to see the gains as any sort of recovery.