Sky is to cease deploying standard definition satellite receivers, replacing its standard Sky Digiboxes and Sky+ units with a single Sky+ HD receiver and introducing a new 1 terabyte PVR.“Sky+ HD is our best box, it’s got a larger hard drive, greater processing power, it’s Ethernet enabled and is VOD and 3D Ready,” Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch told an investor presentation in London on the company’s second quarter results. “This is something we’ve been working towards since the acquisition of Amstrad. Importantly supply chain savings mean it is now an attractive and logical next step for us to take to get our best box into more of our customers’ hands more quickly”.
Darroch said moving to a single box brought with it a number of benefits, simplifying customer premise equipment over time, eliminating the need for a second customer callout on upgrade, and removing the double subsidy on a subscriber who later upgrades to HD.
The move that takes effect from today (January 28) has also been brought about by the near-universality of HD Ready sets in the UK market. A new advertising campaign, ‘Sky Supertelly’, launches today and is designed to emphasise the HD viewing experience. The satcaster estimates that by the end of 2010, HD Ready displays will be used by 14 million households.
The Sky+ HD box will given free to new and upgrading customers willing to pay a £10 monthly fee. There will be no impact on the overall Sky acquisition costs because it will be offset by supply chain savings.
“Having one box type means we can launch more new products faster and means we can maximise the benefits of the Ethernet port within the Sky HD box,” explained Darroch. One such new product is Sky 3D that will be officially launched in April. Darroch added that the Pull VOD service would launch before the end of the year.
A new 1 terabyte Sky+ HD receiver – effectively three times the present capacity – will enable customers to store up to 240 hours of HD content, equivalent to 100 HD movies. It will attract a premium of £249 that Darroch said would more than cover the supply chain costs and even make a small profit.