Sky Deutschland Confirms Strong Q4, Gets New Loan From News Corp.

But the company still booked an operating loss of $370 million for the year, up slightly on 2009.


COLOGNE, Germany -- Slowly, slowly, things are getting better at German pay TV group Sky Deutschland, which Thursday confirmed preliminary year-end figures showing revenue and subscriber growth but a profit ledger still drenched in red ink.

Sky Deutschland added 183,000 new subscribers in 2010, taking the total to 2.6 million and revenues jumped more than $100 million to $1.35 billion (€978 million). The churn rate – the percentage of customers that cancel their subscriptions, was down to a five-year-low of 16.2 percent.

But Sky still booked an operating loss of $370 million (€269 million) for the year, up slightly on 2009.

Sky is forecasting a "substantial improvement" in operating profits for this year but said it still won't manage to break even. To keep the lights on, Sky has again tapped main shareholder News Corp., securing a new $66 million (€48 million) incremental loan.

Sky Deutschland CEO Brian Sullivan has eschewed specific targets in favor of a more incremental strategy focusing on new services, such as the Sky's new 24 hour HD sports news channel, which will bow in Germany and Austria this winter.

"It is still early days in our development, and that there is still much to do," Sullivan said. "Our focus for 2011 will remain on expanding high quality and great value services that will genuinely differentiate Sky, and build our leadership as the most innovative TV provider in Germany and Austria."

Sky shares were down nearly 3 percent on Thursday's news at $3.93 (€2.85).