Sky’s much-anticipated new platform Sky Q will be made available in the UK and Ireland from early 2016.
The suite of products, including a gateway-style set-top box, slave receiver and sleek new remote control, is being described by the broadcaster as a “next generation home entertainment system”. An Ultra HD version is also being promised for later in the year.
Sky Q creates a TV ecosystem across the product range that makes it possible to take live, recorded or on demand TV anywhere around the house, or beyond on a tablet.
While the bulk of the feature set will be familiar to conference goers from anytime over the last three or so years, the innovation here is that Sky has actually got out and done it.
Viewing can be paused on one TV screen and picked up in another room or on a tablet. Sky Q boxes can also be used as mini Wi-Fi hotspots.
There are announced content deals with YouTube, Vevo, and what’s described as “the best of the Web”. Facebook photos and streamed music will also be available and Q also connects to Apple’s AirPlay, meaning that additional content can be ‘thrown’ from an iPhone or iPad onto a TV screen.
There are also content deals with GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue and WIRED, GoPro, Jukin Media, Kin Community, Red Bull Media House and Whistle Sports.
Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive, commented: “Sky Q is a brilliant new way for customers to experience TV on their terms. We wanted to re-imagine TV so that it’s flexible and seamless across different screens and to put a huge choice of entertainment at their fingertips. We think customers are going to love Sky Q and the great news is that it will get even better with much more to come in the future.”
SkyQ pretty much as we predicted: smart new UI, multi device support, 4K ready, targeted at super premium segment. #SetTVFree
— David Mercer (@DavidMercer_SA) November 18, 2015
Sky is also introducing Fluid Viewing – it has a trademark – to encapsulate the concept of being able to seamlessly move content from one device to another.
The product range is as follows:
- Sky Q Silver and Sky Q – two new super-slim, powerful boxes for the main TV set, featuring up to 12 tuners and up to 2TB of storage
- Sky Q Mini – a new plug and play box giving wireless access to Sky Q in other rooms in the home without running cables from the dish
- Sky Q Hub – the all new Hub has built in Powerline networking technology, so it can use in-home electrical wiring as well as Wi-Fi to communicate with Sky Q boxes, automatically giving the best connection available. The Sky Q Hub also turns Sky Q boxes into Wi-Fi hotspots which means Sky Broadband customers get a stronger signal and better coverage throughout the home
- Sky Q app – a brand new app for tablets that lets you enjoy all of the Sky Q experience at home, and take recordings with you and watch live and on demand content on the go
What #SkyQ doesn't have – at this stage at least – is a backward/ scrollback EPG. #SetTVFree
— Graham Lovelace ? (@glovelace) November 18, 2015
In recent years the Sky+ platform – over ten years old – has begun to look tired. Despite Sky’s continuing innovation that has connected the boxes to the internet for an impressive on demand slate. What Sky Q does is freshen up the look and feel of the system – putting it on a par with Apple – while bringing in some of the app capability Sky has picked up through its investment in Roku, which produces its NOW TV and Sky Online boxes.
The connectivity around the house is another issue; while the tablet can take content anywhere, the ability to add another box, particularly one that doesn’t involve trailing cables is a valuable asset.
In the UK market Sky Q and Fluid will be up against TiVo, alongside BT’s YouView, and in Ireland and later continental Europe Liberty’s Horizon. It will be a battle worth watching.