Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch has expressed caution on the launch of an Ultra HD service. However, CFO Andrew Griffith told analysts at the presentation of Sky’s annual results that the pay-TV platform will move to a single hardware platform by 2017.
Sky already has a single development roadmap for its set-top boxes. “By the end of 2017 we’ll have one common hardware platform, based on the UK box, as well as a single user interface and middleware” said Griffith. This would save Sky around £30 million a year by removing duplication, improving reliability and adding the ability to develop once and then deploy across all three of Sky’s major markets.
Griffith suggested Sky would ‘unpack’ the three core elements of the set-top – a hint that contracts will need to expire before the plan is fully implemented.
Similar plans are in place for the IP box, branded as NOW TV and Sky Online.
The move to a single box – and the ongoing Project Ethan – has been the subject of much speculation. Darroch is still to be convinced by the proposition. Brushing aside direct reference to Project Ethan he said whether an Ultra HD box came through in scale remained to be seen. He said production of content had been a bit slow. “It works well on very big screens, but works less well on small screens. One of the things you have to be careful of is when people demo it they’ll probably show it to you on a big 83-inch screen. Most things look good on that when you’re just 10 feet away.
There has also been work on sharing content across the group, a single acquisition team has been formed, allowing Sky to purchase Aquarius, the new David Duchovny show, in a single transaction.
Shifting Formula 1 coverage into a single production team – while retaining the national narrative – has saved £8 million a year.