Sky Deutschland goes 3-D in October

CEO Brian Sullivan needs to attract new subscribers

BERLIN -- Sky Deutschland, News Corp's struggling German pay platform, will launch Germany's first 3-D channel in October. The move, which Sky announced Thursday (Sept. 2) is the latest in a series of high-tech enticements which company CEO Brian Sullivan hopes will lure in German subscribers, notoriously suspicious of pay TV.

Sky launched a bouquet of HD channels last month and, just before the soccer World Cup, an iPad application allowing subscribers to watch sports on Sky on-the-go.

To finance the tech upgrades, Sullivan got the go-ahead from News Corp. last month to raise around $450 million in fresh capital. What Sky can't get from the market it will borrow directly from News Corp.

Sky is still deep in the red and has shown little progress so far in boosting subscriber figures. The company has fewer than 2.5 million Germans subscribers, a fraction of the pay market News Corp.'s BskyB commands in Britain. Sullivan has said Sky Deutschland will miss its 2011 break-even target.

Sullivan's current strategy is to target high-end users, the early adapters willing to pay a premium for HD and 3-D.

The new 3-D offering will initially only be available via satellite and for subscribers who receive Sky via the regional Kabel BW network. But the service will be available free to all Sky HD subscribers -- in Germany and Austria -- by the end of the year.

Sky broadcast Germany's first live 3-D event in March -- carrying a live German Bundesliga match between Bayer Leverkusen and Hamburger SV in a one-off demonstration of the technology. Sky's 3D channel will be sports-heavy though it will also carry select feature films and live music events.
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