Sky Deutschland hooks up to cablers

Co-distribution deals with Tele Columbus, Versatel Telekabel

COLOGNE, Germany -- Sky Deutschland is hooking up the cable in order to win over customers. The German pay TV group, in which News Corp. holds a 45.4% stake, this week signed co-distribution deals with two German cable network companies: Tele Columbus and Versatel Telekabel.

The deals will see Sky and the cablers jointly market and distribute Sky's bouquet of pay channels directly to cable subscribers. Sky can also be bundled as part of the cable companies' triple play (TV, telephone, broadband Internet) offerings. That is key in the German market, where consumers have been wary of pay TV but eager to upgrade their Internet and cable services.

Brian Sullivan, Sky Deutschland's new CEO, signed the first such cable hook-up deal last month with regional provider NetCologne (THR 5/5). Sky is making a major push for new customers ahead of the soccer World Cup, which kicks off next Friday. Sullivan is under the gun to meet Sky's target of break-even by the end of this year. Last year, Sky Deutschland booked an operating loss of €262 million ($321 million).