Sky ready to go hybrid

BSkyB has confirmed that it is to finally take advantage of the broadband capabilities of its Sky+ HD service. The satcaster has confirmed that it will next week commence the phased roll out of its Pull VOD service Anytime+.

Customers will have access to over 600 movies from Sky Movies and Sky Box Office as well as entertainment, documentaries, children’s programming and classic sport.

Initially Sky Anytime+ will only be available to subscribers in a Sky Network area, that is to say those customers who receive their broadband directly from BSkyB itself, as opposed to Sky Broadband Connect (which runs over the BT network) or from a third party provider.

The new section of the EPG (pictured) seamlessly integrates the existing Sky Anytime service, where the satcaster downloads programmes to the receiver ready for viewing, with the NDS progressive download technology already used by Viasat in the Nordic region. An icon will indicate to the subscriber whether or not a piece of content is ready to play immediately. Customers can pause and restart downloads and change the order of delivery if they have selected a number of programmes.

In addition to content from Sky itself there will also be programmes from third party broadcasters that include ESPN, National Geographic Channel and Disney Channel. The recent deal with HBO, and the launch of Sky Atlantic early next year, means Anytime+ households will be able to view ‘boxed sets’ of classic US shows.

The number of subscribers paying the £10 monthly supplement for Sky’s HD services now stands at over 3 million. In the three months to September 30, 2010 the broadcaster reported record net product growth of 989,000, a 12% increase on the prior year.

Edging ever-closer to the previously stated target of 10 million DTH households, Sky reported net additions of 96,000 to take its installed base to 9,956,000.

Group revenue increased to £1,526 million (2010: £1,330 million), up 15% year on year. Operating profit now stands at £255 million.

Over 50 HD channels are now available on the Sky platform, watched by net additions of 215,000 in the first quarter of BSkyB’s financial year, and a total of 3.2 million customers.

2.3 million customers now take the triple pay package of TV, broadband and telephony. This has led ARPU to a new high with the average amount spent by each Sky customer now standing at £514 per annum.

“Our focus this quarter on home communications has been rewarded with our highest ever take-up of broadband, telephony and line rental, alongside further good growth in high definition,” said BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

500 new jobs are being created next year with the opening of a new customer care centre.