Sky Deutschland subscribers will be able to access multiscreen service Sky Go via the Xbox 360 console by the end of 2011. Bundesliga football coverage, Sky Sports channels and on-demand movies will be available, along with access to Sky Sports News HD. Access, as with other Xbox multiscreen iterations, will be restricted to those users with an Xbox Live Gold account and an existing Sky subscription - there is currently no standalone OTT-only subscription available. Kit Digital has been engaged to deliver Sky Deutschland's OTT capabilities.
Sky Deutschland's move to Xbox 360 is hardly surprising given the increasing use of the Xbox as an alternative delivery platform for pay TV content in other markets, and the slew of alternative content deals that Microsoft has made in Germany in the last year, which include agreements with Amazon subsidiary LoveFilm and broadcaster ZDF.
Sky launched its multiscreen service in April 2011 beginning with the iPad, and subsequently broadened access to all Apple devices running iOS 3.1.3 and above, as well as to PCs; however usage has remained comparatively low, with just 4m requests recorded since then. Sky Deutschland's initial decision to charge an additional fee for the Sky Go service, rather than bundling it free with the 'linear' basic subscription will have impacted the usage, although a partial relaxation of the restrictions in late October - allowing Sky Premium HD and subscribers with a second smart card to access Sky Go for no additional monthly fee - will have prompted consumption to rise in recent weeks. Sky Premium HD customers make up nearly 30 per cent of Sky Deutschland's subscriber base at present.
The move is not driven by a desire to expand reach of Sky's pay TV services, with connected Xbox 360 consoles being present in just two per cent of German households. Combined with the relaxed pricing scheme, which will allow premium subscribers to access Sky Go for no additional cost, it is more likely designed to be a tier-driver and customer retention strategy. For a company which has historically had churn issues, retaining its highest value customers is a clearer imperative than marginally increasing reach and revenues through access to services via a small number of additional devices.
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