There will also be a refreshen of the NOW TV brand, while the Restart concept recently introduced in Italy will be extended to the UK later this year.
At Wednesday’s quarterly results Sky said that its connected TV platform has broken its own previous record, in the UK and Ireland, with almost 2 billion download and streaming requests made by its customers during 2014 – 60 requests per second.
There are now 6.5 million customers connected to Sky On Demand, and 5.8 million registered users for mobile TV service Sky Go in the UK and Ireland.
A relative latecomer to Boxed Sets, Sky now offers over 130 box sets of the latest shows.
“It’s driving take up of both Sky Go and HD and is going very well so far. Customers tell us they want quality as well as quantity, so we’ll add more of the latest best titles, and we’ll extend our licence period so they can watch for longer,” said Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch, adding that there was an opportunity to establish Boxed Sets as a new premium offering in their own right with increased marketing support and a stronger brand identity.
Darroch knocked back the idea of a new 4k ready box – reported as Project Ethan – explaining the rate of change was different to what it was ten or even five years ago. Rather than replace the entire set-top box inventory it was more likely that changes were made to the software stack.
“Ultra HD is TBD – it does really well on big screens, but less impactful on smaller screens,” said Darroch. “The jury is still out as to how big an idea it will be, we’re thinking about the box power, how we build into the software stack and the broadcast infrastructure that goes alongside that.”
NOW TV, Sky’s pay-as-you-go service is receiving a revamped set-top, again based on the Roku platform, in which Sky has a small investment. It will also receive a new logo and an above the line advertising campaign.
Sky has made NOW TV a distinctive product; 80% of NOW TV users have never considered a Sky subscription.
The AdSmart platform is also being developed; customers in the UK will start to see tailored promotions as well as the subsitutional ads based on segments such as market groups and postcodes.
Of the international markets, Italy with a higher number of connected boxes is more likely to see the service ahead of Germany.