Nov 132014

BSkyB is to scrap the word “British” from its branding after almost 25 years as the company completes an ambitious transformation into a pan-European pay TV giant following the £6.88bn buyout of its sister companies in Germany and Italy.

The enlarged company, which is 39.1% controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, will revert to the Sky name that Murdoch used when launching into the UK pay-TV market at the end of the 1980s.

British Sky Broadcasting was formed in 1990 by the merger of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Television with British Satellite Broadcasting.

BSkyB announced the name change on Thursday, although it will need to be rubber-stamped by shareholders at the company’s AGM on 21 November.

The word “Broadcasting” is also being dropped to reflect the company’s evolution beyond TV into a multimedia content company.

The completion of the buy-out of Sky’s sister companies will see Murdoch achieve a long held ambition of creating a pan-European pay-TV giant with more than £11bn in revenues and 20 million customers in the UK, Germany, Italy, Austria and Ireland.

The enlarged business will be a programme and content powerhouse with a combined budget of £4.6bn and deliver profits of about £1.3bn annually, most of which are generated by the highly successful UK operation.

“The three Sky businesses will be even better together,” said Jeremy Darroch, chief executive of BSkyB who steps up to run the enlarged group.

“By joining together, we will share our strengths and expertise while retaining a strong identity in each country where we operate. The opportunity ahead is substantial and we believe the new Sky will be good for customers, content creators and shareholders alike.”

Brian Sullivan will remain as chief executive of the Sky operation in Germany, and Andrea Zappia will continue to lead Sky in Italy.

On Wednesday, Sky confirmed it had completed the takeovers of the Fox-owned Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, in which Fox had a 57% stake.

Sky also made an offer to minority shareholders in Sky Deutschland, 89.71% of whom accepted. In total Sky paid £6.88bn to form the pan-European pay-TV company.

Oct 082014

Cardsharing is an method of sharing one subscription to multiple satellite receivers via the internet.

As pay TV companies increase their subscriptions, these systems have become more and more popular.

Cardsharing on the Costa Blanca and Spain is rife, with many installers and well known distributors offering these systems – usually without informing the clients about the pitfalls of these systems.

Earlier this year, card sharing systems lost the Sky Italia HD channels due to new encryption and security.

This was then moved to Sky UK, and the Sky HD channels were lost to the card sharing system. But installers still offered these systems, with some still advertising “Full Sky HD” on these system, when clearly all the Sky HD channels are not available.

As we reported:


It was thought that the SD Sky channels would be safe.

However, this week SD channels have started to be lost from the Sky Italia card sharing systems.

Although one or two SD Sky Italia channels are still clearing, many of them are “blocked” or “scrambled”.

The question is, how long will it be before Sky UK follow Sky Italia’s lead, and the Sky UK channels are lost on these cardsharing systems.


Jun 082014

Sky Europe…? Will BSKyB merge with Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland

An interesting article in the Guardian today on the prospect of a merger between the Sky operations in Europe to form one broadcasting giant.


The question, as 21st Century Fox (prop R Murdoch) and BSkyB (dominant shareholder R Murdoch) seek to decide whether Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and BSkyRupert can somehow be brought together to form Sky Europe, our continent’s supreme pay-TV operation, is not – curiously – whether an incurably bureaucratic European commission will approve such a controversial deal. For we probably know the answer to that already (from four years ago, when Mr M tried to buy back all of BSkyB).

“The commission has come to the conclusion that BSkyB’s presence as a leading pay-TV operator in the UK and Ireland with News Corporation’s presence as a leading pay-TV operator in Italy, Germany and Austria does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the internal market in relation to a possible increased bargaining power as regards the negotiation and acquisition of rights to TV content.” Which, rationally considered, makes you wonder why the Bun and other Rupertian organs bang on so balefully about the evils of Brussels.

No: the real question is why a continent so rich in history and worldly wealth should be so puny at entertaining and informing itself.


Read more at :

May 122014

Further to our post this morning :

BSkyB confirms talks to buy Sky Germany and Sky Italy – Sky Europe?

BSkyB has confirmed it is in discussion with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox over the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy which it said would create a “world-class multinational pay-TV group”.

BSkyB said it had begun “preliminary discussions” in the tie-up, which it is estimated would cost around €10bn.

The UK and Ireland-based satellite broadcaster said a deal would involve buying Fox’s 57% controlling stake in Sky Deutschland before launching a mandatory takeover of the remaining stake. Fox owns 100% of Sky Italia.

A statement issued on Monday, BSkyB said

“BSkyB has a clear set of plans to grow its business in the UK and Ireland, is executing these well and expects to continue to achieve excellent growth and returns for shareholders. At the same time, the company continuously explores ways to create further value for shareholders,” it said.

“As part of this approach, the company initiated preliminary discussions with 21st Century Fox to evaluate the potential acquisition of its pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. BSkyB believes at the right value, this combination would have the potential to create a world-class multinational pay-TV group.

“These discussions have not progressed beyond a preliminary stage, no agreement has been reached on terms, value or transaction structure and there is no certainty that a transaction will occur.

“Any potential agreement would be subject to external factors including the Sky Deutschland share price continuing to trade on an undisturbed basis.

“BSkyB’s focus in respect of Sky Deutschland would be to acquire 21st Century Fox’s controlling stake (57% on a fully diluted basis). As a consequence BSkyB would be required to make a takeover offer to the public minority of Sky Deutschland in accordance with relevant German legislation. BSkyB would expect, subject to German minimum offer price rules, to make this offer without a premium.

“All board discussion of this topic is solely within a committee composed of the independent directors of BSkyB, in which directors affiliated with 21st Century Fox do not participate.”

May 122014

Rupert Murdoch is reportedly looking to combine British Sky Broadcasting Group with Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland.

Bloomberg broke the news about a possible combination of the three main European Sky platforms quoting anonymous sources.

The transaction that would transform British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) into a European satellite-TV giant.

BSkyB, partly owned by Fox, is working on a deal valued at about 10 billion euros ($14 billion) to acquire control of satellite carriers Sky Deutschland AG (SKYD) and Sky Italia from Fox, according to people with knowledge of the matter. At the moment, Murdoch holds a 39% stake in BSkyB, while Fox holds 55% of Sky Deutschland and 100% of Sky Italia.

A deal would give BSkyB, already the biggest pay-TV provider in the U.K., oversight of companies that sell satellite programming to 8.5 million homes across Germany and Italy.

In the UK, Sky had 15 million subscribers at the end of March 2014, while Sky D had 3.73 million subscribers, and Sky Italia had 4.75 million. A combined Sky Europe would serve around 23.5 million customers, but such a deal would almost certainly spark the interest of European regulators.

May 082014

Telefónica / Movistar has made a €725 million bid for 56% of the Spanish pay-TV operation Digital Plus.

Digital+ is the satellite TV service for Spain.

The Telefónica / Movistar bid is somewhat less than the €1,000 million sought by the cash-strapped media concern Prisa that is effectively being forced to sell its TV operations.

Telefónica already holds 22% of Digital+ and with 78% of the company would be in effective control.

Telefónica / Movistar has been looking to relaunch its existing IPTV offer Movistar TV.

In the past Telefónica was a pay-TV operator in its own right through the Via Digital satellite platform, until its merger into what is now Digital+/Canal+ in 2002.

BSkyB, Al Jazeera and Liberty Global have previously been linked with a bid.

Apr 162014

Discovery Communications and BSkyB are poised to announce a £350m deal to acquire Channel 5 from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell.

Full details are not known, but Discovery is thought to have a 70% share of the deal with BSkyB taking the remaining 30% share, allowing it to add C5’s advertising inventory to its own sales operation.

The deal will mark a significant step for US media giant Discovery, which has been keen to ramp up both its international portfolio and its exposure to free-to-air broadcasting in key markets.

Richard Desmond bought C5 from RTL in 2010 for £104m. While he was reportedly hoping to attract bids of closer to £600m, he will be happy to have tripled his money in less than four years.

The acquisition would be the most significant deal in the UK free-to-air market since the launch of C5 in 1997.

The deal, which will still be subject to regulatory sign-off, will likely have a massive impact on the channel’s programming budget, with some sources suggesting that it will be more than doubled.


Apr 112014

BT and BSkyB have agreed to share the broadcast rights for the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup competitions. These events start in the 2014/15 season and replace the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Cup.

Under the agreement, which covers the first four years of these new competitions, BT and BSkyB will share the matches equally. Pool matches will be split 50:50, both broadcasters will show two quarter finals, one semi-final and the final would be broadcast by both.

This agreement is a pragmatic solution to the wrangle over European Rugby broadcast rights which had followed from the decision to restructure the competitions. Extrapolating the agreement to other sports, particularly Premiership football, is probably a step too far at this time given that European Rugby was something of a special situation.

Mar 272014

The chief executive of Discovery has held talks with potential partners about launching joint bids for premium sports such as the Premier League TV rights.

The owner of the Discovery factual channel, the new majority shareholder in Eurosport, is aggressively eyeing the UK market, its biggest outside the US, including bidding for Richard Desmond’s Channel 5.

David Zaslav, chief executive of the US cable giant, kept his cards close to his chest on the Channel 5 sale process, where Discovery is considered to be a frontrunner among buyers offering much less than Desmond’s lofty £700m-plus target.

Zaslav was more open about the potential for Discovery to enter the next three-year Premier League TV rights deal, which is expected to start later this year, as part of a strategy to boost Eurosport in the 55 markets it broadcasts.

“Eurosport is a bigger platform than ESPN on cable in the US and it reaches more people,” he said, speaking at the FT Digital Media conference in London on Thursday. “The question is what we do about that. If we look at big sports rights will be careful about it, we are going to be thoughtful about it.”

The idea of a potential joint bid opens up an intriguing range of possibilities, not least of which could be the potential to join forces with Virgin Media to snatch the TV rights.

Another option could be to partner with BSkyB, which is desperate to see off direct rival BT in the next football rights auction, with whom Discovery already has a strong commercial relationship.

Jan 302014

BSkyB has signed a five-year deal for the exclusive rights to the entire HBO TV catalogue, which includes top American shows such as Girls and Game of Thrones, in a move that heads off a threat from arch-rival BT to enter the entertainment and film market.

BSkyB has struck early to extend its existing agreement out to 2020 in a deal worth as much as £275m over five years.

Sky TV satellite TV company has moved quickly to secure a wide-ranging two-pronged deal with HBO. HBO revolutionised the TV market by investing in big budget dramas such as The Wire and The Sopranos.

BSkyB airs the HBO catalogue on its heavily-promoted Sky Atlantic channel.

In addition BSkyB has also reached an exclusive agreement to co-fund and co-produce top-end dramas, of the scale of the multi-million pound per episode Game of Thrones, that could run to tens of millions of pounds investment in new shows per year.

Oct 172013

BSkyB has reported an 8% fall in profits to £285m in the three months to the end of September, as investment in new services and costs incurred in its Premier League battle with pay-TV rival BT took its toll.

BSkyB’s adjusted operating profits were hit by the £2.3bn deal it was forced to make to stop BT from securing the lion’s share of Premier League matches for the next three years, a 40% increase on the last deal, although the company said the dip was “in line with expectations”.

The satellite broadcaster said that the new deal it has with the Premier League sees the amount it pays each year rise by £220m, from the previous £540m a year to £760m.

Investors reacted warmly to the results, with BSkyB’s share price rising 4%, or 34.5p, to 912.5p in early trading.

Sky said that TV viewing of the first 23 live Premier League games was up 20% year on year, which excludes viewing on mobile devices.

BSkyB is expecting another serious challenge from BT when Champions League TV rights come up next year, although Darroch played down the impact of what is expected to be a massive increase in the cost of the previous deal.

TV subscriber numbers, which include subscribers to its satellite TV channels as well as internet service Now TV, rose by 37,000 in the quarter to 10.45m.

Viewing of Sky Sports via mobile TV service Sky Go rose 40% year on year, while watching of movies on the service increased by 50%. Its premium paid-for service Sky Go Extra, which allows customers to register up to four devices and download TV and movies to watch offline for £5 a month, saw users rise 219,000 to a total of 385,000.

Sky HD service subscriptions grew by 642,000, taking the total number of customers to 3.4 million, with growth running at 50,000 a week.

The rapid rise in the penetration of the internet-connected Sky+HD boxes is helping to fuel a surge in on-demand usage.

There was a fourfold increase in weekly downloads through Sky’s on-demand services, while movie rentals via Sky Store have doubled

Programming costs were up 6% to £622m, due to a “step-up” in Premier League costs and investment in original UK TV commissions.

Advertising revenues rose 7% to £102m.



Jun 152013

Grupo Prisa is in talks to sell a stake in satellite broadcaster Digital Plus.

Telefónica, which itself owns 22 per cent of Digital Plus, is interested in buying Prisa’s , and according to reports News Corp has already made an approach.

However, these discussions are no longer active, according to people close to the situation.