Many local newspapers in Germany – such as the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger in Cologne – have reported the anger of German pub landlords, caused by Sky’s decision to raise subscription charges for televised sport. This comes at a time when many of the small pubs and restaurants in Germany are struggling to survive. For many of these establishments the only option is to cancel their subscriptions for televised sport with Sky.
In an article – of which the title translates into English as: ‘Furious publicans terminate Sky subscriptions’, published on the website of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger on 2nd August 2013 – it was estimated that around 400 pubs and restaurants in Cologne are allowed to be called Sky-Sportsbars. See http://www.ksta.de/koeln/kneipenfussball-wuetende-gastwirte-kuendigen-sky-abo,15187530,23898672.html. All of these establishments are subscribers to sports broadcasting services provided by Sky, which allow audiences of customers in the Sky-Sportsbars to watch Bundesliga football matches between the big German football clubs such as 1.FC Köln and Bayern München. The concept of bringing a big audience into a bar to watch an important football match, has in the past been popular in Germany as it has in most countries around the world.
The article in the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger mentioned the case of Bernhard Leber, known as Bernie to locals, landlord of the Weimarer Stübchen in Höhenberg, an eastern suburb of Cologne, who was forced to cancel his Sky subscription when the monthly charge rose from 189 Euros including tax to 279 Euros plus tax. Bernie said he would have to triple his turnover in order to make a clear profit to pay for his Sky subscription. In the interview with the newspaper he was quoted as saying he could not sell as much Kölsch beer as that.
Anger over the hike in Sky’s subscription charges was also reported on the website of the Berliner Morgenpost on 30th July, under the title which translates into English as: ‘Berlin publicans defend themselves against Sky price increases’. See http://www.morgenpost.de/berlin-aktuell/article118512932/Berliner-Wirte-wehren-sich-gegen-Preiserhoehungen-von-Sky.html.
Kundigen is one word that seems to dominate German media coverage of the Sky price rises. The German word kundigen means to cancel, terminate, or give in ones notice, and that is precisely what many German pub landlords are doing with their Sky subscriptions. There may be many reasons – such as austere times and demographic changes – as to why televised football matches in pubs no longer attract the large audiences they once did, but if Sky is interested in maintaining its central European customer base then these hikes are very inauspicious.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2013