Marcello Maggioni, Executive Vice President, Customer Group, Sky Deutschland

German DTH operator Sky Deutschland recently reached three million customers and is closing in on one million HD customers. Marcello Maggioni, executive vice president, customer group, Sky Deutschland, talks about the next steps for the company as it looks to build on a strong 2011.

 

VIA SATELLITE: Sky Deutschland ended 2011 with around 30 HD channels. What is your target in terms of adding new HD channels this year?

Maggioni: Sky HD is a real success story. At Sky Deutschland’s launch in July 2009, we offered seven HD channels. Since then, we’ve grown our HD portfolio to more than 40 channels, and we intend to expand it to more than 60 channels. This development is mirrored in the tremendous uptake and high-satisfaction levels of our customers: we have more than 974,000 subscribers who have chosen our Sky Premium HD service, which is a year-on-year increase of a remarkable 64 percent. We have proven that our decision to include seven attractive HD channels in our basic package was absolutely the right thing to do. It gives every single Sky subscriber the opportunity to tune into HD and 1.6 million of Sky customers already have done so. It is no exaggeration to say that HD is fast becoming a TV standard.

 

VIA SATELLITE: With the phenomenon of iPads, iPhones and other tablets and mobile devices, how has your strategy changed in terms of the delivery of content to German households and customers?

Maggioni: It is a vital part of our strategy and one of the drivers of our business. Sky has recently pioneered an array of innovations in the German and Austrian TV markets. Sky Go, which started last April, gained around 600,000 active users in less than nine months and achieved more than four million unique viewer sessions in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone. The market penetration of our PVR digital HD receiver Sky+ increased from 39,000 customers in early 2011 to 411,000 by the end of the year. This is more than a tenfold increase — a sensational achievement. We actually want to more than double the Sky+ market penetration this year.

 

VIA SATELLITE: Do you think the German customer is more willing to pay for TV now? Have the dynamics of the market changed?

Maggioni: It is more than customers just willing to pay for TV; it’s all about their willingness to pay for better TV. This is exactly what Sky stands for and people become more and more aware of the great value we offer. The key to Sky’s success is its ability to combine quality entertainment with market-leading innovation to create a viewing experience that customers increasingly demand.

 

VIA SATELLITE: You said in an earlier interview that you had no plans to have more 3-D channels, why is that?

Maggioni: Currently, from our point-of-view, the best and most effective way to offer 3-D to our customers is through an event-based channel that incorporates a range of different genres. We don’t see people sitting in front of their TV set for hours and hours watching 3-D. There is a much stronger tendency towards watching individual 3-D highlights such as a film, a concert or a football match. This is exactly what Sky 3-D caters to. There is simply not enough good 3-D content available yet to be able to fill more than one 3-D channel with attractive programming.

 

VIA SATELLITE: Do you believe the company has reached a tipping point in terms of its own fortunes?

Maggioni: Yes. In 2011, we managed to deliver many important milestones in building our business for a profitable future. We can look back on the best performance in the history of Sky — in terms of growth rates, customer satisfaction and recommendation levels. With planned additional funding of 300 million euros ($398.54 million) we have a strong financial base from which we are able to invest into further growth.

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