The deal that seemed unlikely has been reached as Sky signalled its intention to be a curator of premium content, starting with Netflix, writes Julian Clover
In any other week the announcement that Netflix was to be added to the Sky Q box and included as part of a new Entertainment package would have dominated the week’s news.
It didn’t too badly, but we also heard the music streaming service Spotify would also have a presence in Sky Q homes, and yet further improvements to the platform itself. And that’s without mentioning Comcast’s interest in the company as a whole.
When it comes to Netflix, Sky is late to the party, Virgin Media, BT TV and Freesat all have the app in their boxes, only EE has seemingly overlooked the popularity of the service.
But Sky has pulled off a masterstroke. On any other operator in you go to the Netflix app and you’re there with The Crown, Orange is the New Black and Star Trek Discovery. On Sky Q, Netflix content will be there with the rest of the Sky inventory, so Sky Originals such as Tin Star, Riviera, or Manchester United v Liverpool will be given equal billing. Smart.
And on the subject of billing the Netflix ‘membership’ is effectively added to the Sky subscription.
And don’t forget that in December Sky has also signed an agreement that will Sky subscribers to buy BT Sport.
But there’s more to just Netflix appearing on Sky Q. Sky is reclaiming the ground that once meant you had no reason to leave the Sky arena. It’s only movie service is arguably better than Netflix, it’s just that you end up paying more for fresher titles, and its original productions can also be the match of Netflix.
Previously Sky subscribers will have needed a separate app, perhaps on their smart TV, a streaming stick, or a Roku or Apple TV box.
There’s been no confirmation, but Sky’s long list of improvements to Sky Q included this line: The reach and accessibility of Sky Q will also be extended with the ability to stream content to more devices at the same time, plus a Sky Q app will become available on Smart TVs and third party devices.
To me that reads that we’ll start to see Sky Q extend beyond Sky’s own set-tops, side by side with Netflix (surprise), the catch-up services, and all sorts of TV content large and small. Now TV, Sky’s low-cost streaming service can already be found on many of these.
If the set-top box does eventually fade into history, Sky intends to hang around.