Sky is the UK’s biggest Pay-TV service provider with a presence in major European countries such as Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, and Italy. It is as huge as the four major networks in the US. It has exclusive rights to the worlds’ most popular blockbusters and is home to one of the most lucrative sports competitions in the English Premier League. Movies and sports aren’t the only niches in which it dominates, catch-up and on-demand TV content is an integral part of Sky Network.
The success and sheer dominance of the network in Great Britain allowed the brand to start its own streaming service. Apart from satellite broadcasting, you can find a wide range of content on the network. Sky Q – the streaming service was launched less than five years ago and has come a long way in providing a comprehensive television viewing experience to its audience.
Sky Limited is a media and telecommunications conglomerate currently owned by Comcast. Prior to the acquisition, it was owned by 21st Century Fox which had 39.14% of the controlling stake. Sky’s history of acquisition is one with a lot of twists and turns. News Corporation wanted to acquire the network along with the Walt Disney Company. However, it was Comcast that acquired Sky Limited after it agreed to pay £17.28 per-share in 2018.
I love websites that have a uniform feel throughout the pages. Sky’s website is eye-catching as the entire website reflects the brand ideology. The color combination from red and purple palette flows throughout the banners which are not just evident in its homepage but in its inner pages as well. A hero section with a slider option helps you understand the content within seconds after entering the website. The homepage banners have a CTA asking users to ‘Join Now’ or ‘Find Out More’ about the service.
If you scroll down, you’ll find three horizontal tiles categorized as TV, Broadband and Mobile. You can click on each of these services to learn about them in detail. Sky is not limited to streaming services and thus you can choose from a wide range of options such as TV, Broadband, and Mobile as well. Think of it as AT&T in the US, except its rise to dominance can be accredited to its broadcasting rather than its telecommunication services.
If you scroll further, you’ll find six thumbnails with descriptions highlighting the key offering on the network. These include Sky Cinema, Mobile & Broadband Services, Sky Sports, Sky O, On-Demand Content and Sky Kids.
My favorite page on the website is ‘Find & Watch TV’. The layout of this page is simply magnificent with distinctive full-width banners offering an immersive browsing experience. The well-made banners are complemented by small text which doesn’t take away from the beauty of this page. Each of the creative banners has a title followed by a short description and CTA prompting you to learn more about a show. It is by far the most user-intuitive website in the streaming world and can easily compete with FX for the throne.
Sky’s content prowess is exemplary bar none. From Sky Box Sets to its individual buckets, it offers great value for money. With the SkyBox sets, you get digital content of the 400 most excellent series from HBO, AMC, SKY and other creators. To access this service, you just have to pay a few extra pounds and you can enjoy popular series such as ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘True Detective’, ‘Big Little Lies’, ‘Vinyl’, ‘Blacklist’, ‘Fortitude’, ‘Bounty Hunters’, ‘Dexter’, ‘Ross Kemp’s Extreme World’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ to name a few.
If you thought SkyBox was all, think again. There’s Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sky Kids, and Sky Multiroom. Let’s discuss each of these services to get a better understanding:
Sky Cinema is the equivalent to Disney’s Movies Anywhere but much better. It’s the network’s perennial movie offering platform that has 11 movie channels which allows you to access movies on demand at any time and at any place you want. If you have an internet connection, you can access 1000+ titles which range from classics such as Bond series to the latest release ‘Aladdin’. Sky keeps updating its library on a seasonal basis. For instance, now is the best time to enjoy holiday movies. It’s slightly pricier than the SkyBox but it’s an add-on that you don’t want to miss.
If you’re an EPL fan, there are no two ways about subscribing to this network. Apart from football, you can enjoy golf, cricket and even formula one. The reason why Sky Sports is twice as expensive as Sky Cinema is because it has to pay enormous licensing fees for the premier league.
Under the Sky Kids pack, you get access to 11 kids channel along with on-demand content comprising of 4500+ episodes of current and classic kids’ shows.
With the introduction of Sky Q, you no longer need set-top boxes in every room. You can have a Multiroom TV with the help of Sky Q minis. These little boxes plug in your additional TV and channel themselves via the main Sky Q box to help you stream content via an internet connection, preferably a Wi-Fi.
Sky Q has uplifted the compatibility
The arrival of Sky Q has transformed the ways in which content is delivered. The Mini Q boxes though they don’t support 4K yet are great for feeding content in all the TVs across the house. The revamped Sky GO app is available on a wide range of platforms such as iPhones, Android and Amazon’s Fire tablets.
Well-managed On-demand Content
Sky truly has the capacity to compete with Netflix and I say so because it does manage its on-demand content well. Without any budges in its interface, it does provide a steady viewing experience across all platforms. I enjoyed viewing content on the iPlayer. Since shows are already downloaded to the box, you can enjoy them without any buffering. Thus, even if you don’t have the best of broadband connection, you’ll still be fine.
Sure, thus far it sounds like a paid review but here comes the part where the praises will peel off.
4K Content is only available via broadcast
If you have a 4K UHD TV, you can enjoy 4K content on broadcast and TV shows. If you don’t and you want the 4K experience, you need the Sky Q experience pack with 2TB Sky Q box which can allow you to watch broadcasts such as Premier League Games, F1, Boxing, Rugby, Darts and other sports on 4K quality.
Doesn’t have the best customer feedback
Sky has a poor viewer rating when it comes to streaming experience and doesn’t have the best of streaming technology. This can be seen via the Q box, which is yet to receive HDR support. Apart from that, there’s no way to watch the 4K unless you’re streaming live events.
Plans & Pricing
Sky’s payment plan is complex as is the case with all pay-TV providers. The amount you pay correlates with the type of content you want. Sky Q box which comes in 1 and 2TB version allows you to record three shows simultaneously whilst allowing you to watch the fourth title. For 4K experience, you need to subscribe to Sky Q experience.
Sky Q experience: Costs £13/per month and is a prerequisite for 4K streaming. With Sky Q, you can watch content via the Q mini boxers or Sky Go app. By spending an additional £5/per month you can download content on your device and get four-screen 4K capabilities in Netflix if you pair it up with Ultimate On Demand.
Apart from this, there are other subscription options which include:
Sky Entertainment: Costs £22/per month for standard definition and £5/per month for HD Content. It includes 42 channels and unlocks HD content in kid’s packs, on-demand, and HD content. You can access up to two-screen on Netflix, ITV, BBC, and Channel 4 HD.
On-Demand: Features 500 of Sky’s box sets and Netflix subscription of an affordable £12/per month.
Sky Cinema: An HD offering with an expansive movie library which costs £11/per month.
Sky Sports: An HD offering whose pricing ranges between £18 to £30 per month based upon the channels you want to watch.
Sky Kids TV: Costs £5 per month and features 11 channels along with 5000+ episodes on on-demand content for children.
Suggestions I have for Sky
Sky needs to up its game because BT Sport is catching up really fast. Sky needs to be more competitive with its pricing. I’ve heard about Sky trying to go completely digital and that transformation will be appreciated only if they keep the plan is feasible for end customers.
If you want an extensive library of content featuring a plethora of channels across various genres, you won’t really think of any other service other than Sky or BT. However, I do feel that they need to tone down their plans and pricing when they go all digital.