Pay-TV operator Sky Deutschland is reportedly looking to exit its contracts which give it semi-exclusive TV rights to the Formula One series of Grands Prix. Not content with potentially upsetting car racing fans, CEO Brian Sullivan also told the Financial Times German edition that he also wanted to look again at his coverage of Germany’s Bundesliga soccer.
He told the newspaper that the broadcaster plans to invest in better service and content presentation to ensure profitability. “We are going to concentrate on intelligent investments,” said Sullivan, suggesting Sky could drop costly Formula One rights in favor of more lucrative opportunities. Formula One racing is among the most popular televised sports in Germany, but Sky does not have exclusive rights to the circuit since free-to-air network RTL also airs F1 races. Sullivan added that he considered Formula 1 a “great product” but its value was limited in the pay-TV arena especially when “it also had a presence in free TV”.
Sullivan’s TV philosophy as regards soccer is also in doubt. He told the newspaper that Sky-D is currently paying €275 million for its soccer rights, although some matches are again shared with pubcaster ARD which transmits a nightly ‘highlights’ package. Now it seems Sullivan is more relaxed about freeing up some of his soccer rights.
Sullivan’s strategy is a high risk one, and may merely be an early gambit in re-negotiating contracts on more favourable terms.