* Q2 EBITDA 23.4 mln eur vs 33.3 mln poll average
* Sees FY core loss between 145-175 mln eur
* Expects more customers, less churn in 2011, 2012
* Shares up 2.1 percent at 1054 GMT
(Adds more CEO comment, analyst comment, share price)
By Nicola Leske
FRANKFURT, Aug 12 German pay-TV broadcaster Sky
Deutschland SKYDn.DE won more customers than expected as it
narrowed losses in the second quarter, slowly inching towards
its target of about 3 million subscribers.
Sky Deutschland, formerly known as Premiere, in which News
Corp holds a 49.9 percent stake, has struggled to find
growth in a country where people are reluctant to pay extra for
television amid a large choice of free channels.
But under its Chief Executive Brian Sullivan, who took the
helm at the German company in April 2010, Sky Deutschland has
slowly begun to show some improvement.
Sullivan, who spent 15 years at BSkyB before he
joined Sky Deutschland, is credited for pushing innovation at
BSkyB and attracting new customers. The British company was also
loss-making in its early years but is highly profitable now.
Last month, BSkyB said it would hand out 1.6 billion pounds
($2.6 billion) to investors who lost out when a phone-hacking
and police corruption scandal forced News Corp to drop its bid
for remaining 61 percent of the satellite broadcaster it does
Asked whether there was any indication that News Corp would
increase its stake in Sky Deutschland after its BSkyB plans
failed, the German company's CEO said: "Absolutely not."
However, Sullivan said News Corp management was supportive
of his efforts to make Sky Deutschland profitable.
Like News Corp's CEO Rupert Murdoch, Sullivan is confident
that the German TV market offers plenty of growth potential.
"Germany is the last large untapped pay-TV market in
Europe," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said Sky Deutschland would break even when its
subscriber base grew to between 3 million and 3.2 million from
2.759 million at end-June, without saying when that would be.
The company, which has managed to continuously trim its
losses and reduce churn, added 33,000 subscribers in the second
quarter compared with only 6,000 in the previous year.
Sky Deutschland's main draw is the right to show German
premier league soccer live. It also shows movies, documentaries,
drama series and pornography.
Its quarterly annualised churn rate stood at 9.4 percent,
down from 16.3 percent, and average revenue per user (ARPU) rose
to 30.69 euros from 28.62 euros.
The company, based in the Munich suburb of Unterfoehring,
expects to post a full-year core loss of between 145 million and
175 million euros ($204-247 million) and sees the positive
trends seen so far this year continuing in 2012.
Commerzbank analyst Dirk Voigtlaender said he was less
optimistic about the company's net subscriber additions and ARPU
for 2012 and beyond due to lower forecasts for German economic
growth, which Commerzbank sees at 2 percent.
"Despite promising second-quarter figures, we lower our
estimates to take into account Commerzbank's new, more muted,
macroeconomic outlook. Still, we are optimistic in terms of an
EBITDA break-even in early 2013," Voigtlaender said.
Sky Deutschland's second-quarter loss before interest,
taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was 23.4 million
euros ($33 million) on sales of 276.7 million euros.
Net loss was 53.6 million, down from 81.9 million euros.
(Editing by Mike Nesbit and Will Waterman)