Sky Deutschland reports Q4, full year results

German pay TV operation ends year deep in the red

COLOGNE, Germany -- Sky Deutschland, the News Corp-controlled German pay TV operation, ended the year deep in the red.

Revenues for 2009 were down to €902 million ($1.2 billion) from €941 million a year earlier and Sky recorded an operating (EBITDA) loss of €262.7 million ($355 million) for the year, four-and-a-half times the €57 million loss Sky booked a year earlier.

Sky had to shoulder higher programming costs for the rights to Germany's Bundesliga soccer as well as expenses linked to the channel's aggressive HD rollout. The decision to abandon the brand name Premiere and relaunch as Sky Deutschland early last year also hurt the bottom line, the book value of the Premiere brand -- €253.9 million ($343 million) -- was written off Sky's balance sheet.

There was no obvious sign of a turn-around for Sky in Q4. Revenue held steady at €230.2 million ($311 million) but EBITDA loss jumped to €81.6 million ($110 million) from €44.5 million in Q4 2008.

On the plus side, Sky ended the year with 2.47 million subscribers, about half a million more than in 2008.

News Corp. is Sky's largest single shareholder with a 45.42% stake. The remaining Sky shares are in free float, with around 23% held by institutional investors.