(Pictured above: HBO's Michael Lombardo; Gary Davey, EVP, Programming, Sky Deutschland; and HBO's Richard Plepler.)

International is an increasingly important part of HBO's success story, and HBO's co-president Richard Plepler and head of programming Michael Lombardo last week visited international partners in Germany and France.

In Munich, Plepler and Lombardo spent a full day at Sky Deutschland, the latest of several output partners that adopted the recent marketing strategy of branding a network "The Home of HBO." Along with meeting with the executive team, Plepler, Lombardo and the full staff of Sky Deutschland participated in a town hall gathering to share the vision of HBO and field questions (photo below). Their day ended with interviews with local press.

Germany represents Europe's largest TV market with 41.5 million TV households and 8 major broadcasters in the free TV market. Pay TV penetration is a relatively low 14.5% with great potential for growth.

While in Paris, HBO hosted a press breakfast for European media. Over a dozen reporters attended and participated in a 90-minute Q&A with the HBO executives.

In France, HBO enjoys an output deal with partner Orange – one of the earliest output deals HBO entered into – but also licenses its original programming to additional French broadcasters, including France Television, m6 and Canal +.