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SES to lose Sky Germany play-out

SES Platform Services (SES PS), the satellite operator’s Munich-based technical facility, is to lose its Sky Deutschland play-out and uplinking contract. Sky-D is to shift its play-out to its Sky Italia teleport. The news was briefly mentioned by Sky’s Group CFO Andrew Griffith on January 31st during the broadcaster’s Sky half-year results statement.

It is understood that SES was aware of the decision, although at the moment it is not clear as to how this decision will affect the other channels being beamed and backed-up from Munich, including channels from third-party broadcasters.

Much will depend on the remaining portions of existing contracts in place with SES PS, and the structure of transponder usage, and how the various digital muxes are utilised, and uplinked.

SES PS occupied a pair of buildings directly across the road in Unterföhring, a small town outside Munich. Sky Deutschland started life as a single channel (Premiere) formed by a consortium led by Leo Kirch in 1991 and which grew to DF1 in 1996 and which became Premiere World in 1996. Following the bankruptcy of KirchGruppe, the broadcasting assets were acquired by Permira until Sky bought the business and rebranded Sky Deutschland.

Digital Playout Centre (DPC) was founded in 1996 by Kirch to handle all the physical output and uplinking of Kirch’s channels. In June 2004 SES announced it had acquired DPC from Permira.

SES says it is in discussion with Sky about the scope of their decision and its timing. “We will be able to mitigate the effect for the most part by extending relationships with existing customers as well as generate new business,” said an SES source.

There are also strong suggestions that some channel groupings, such as Discovery and Turner will be unaffected by the shift to Italy. Turner Broadcasting, for example, awarded a contract to SES PS in August 2013.

However, it would seem that the decision to consolidate Sky’s play-out is not wholly unexpected given that Sky UK has what can best be described as a “control everything” policy, and that philosophy is now being embraced by its European sister operations as part of their wider cost-saving focus and synergies across the whole group.

SES PS is currently handling some 300 channels overall. It has recently introduced a raft of new services (Fluid Hub, Lucid Web, Solid Live) to offer increased functionality to clients, and as part of its Media Toolbox concept. It has more than 150 customers.

An SES statement said: “A key driver is the enlargement of the product range and geographical scope. Our platform services [operation] today is a global business serving more than 150 customers, delivering a wide range of innovative services for the distribution of video content. We are offering a comprehensive products and services for every business model: linear video distribution from SD to UHD Quality, as well as non-linear VoD and Streaming. From Content Management to consumer apps, we are well positioned for the growing demand from OTT markets worldwide.”

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