Sky turns to Q for new box of tricks

Sky launches new Sky Q

What is Sky Q

Sky Q, the new platform, will enable people to watch five screens simultaneously and to transmit recordings and live TV around the home and on to tablets while they are being watched, reports The Times.

It has revamped the search functions for finding content and added apps, including YouTube and niche channels such as Vogue, GoPro and Wired, that will increase the amount of content available to users.

Sky-Q-tabletThose channels will sit alongside Sky Sports and other exclusive shows, such as The Tunnel and The Affair.

Sky will also add music to its repertoire via Vevo video clips. It also said yesterday that a third of its customers regarded their TV as having the best sound system in the house, so Sky Q will also allow users to stream Spotify and Apple Music through the new box. It is Sky’s first foray into music since it closed Sky Songs in 2010.

Sky Q, which is clearly aimed at the most media-hungry consumers in the market, will be launched next year.

Sky has not revealed what it will charge for the new platform. However, some analysts are predicting that it could push monthly subscriptions for the TV service to more than £100.

Like Apple, Sky plans to introduce a voice-controlled remote control that will be made available some time after launch. It is using voice-recognition technology developed by Nuance, which was the original developer of Apple’s Siri.

The new service will also be the launch pad for ultra-high-definition broadcasts as well as a smartphone app after it starts.

Netflix and Amazon are notably absent from the Sky Q launch, although the satellite company would not rule out bringing in more partners over time if it can strike commercial deals. Unlike Apple TV, its move into apps has not signalled a move into video games.

Sky will also use set-top boxes in the home to create a mesh network that strengthens wi-fi signals. It believes that this could act as an inducement for customers to switch their broadband account to Sky and away from BT and TalkTalk.

Although consumers can use Sky Q without Sky’s broadband product, it will work better as part of a unified service, according to the company.

It is the latest attempt by Sky to increase loyalty among its customers and to open up a potential new market that will pay a premium to have all of their content in one place. Sky created Now TV to counter low-cost streaming services from Netflix and Amazon, which has helped to increase its customer base.

Its traditional Sky Plus service faces competition from rivals stretching from BT and Virgin Media to Apple TV, but the Sky Q launch is an attempt to squeeze more out of its most active customers and to attract new users.

Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of Sky, said that Sky Q was the “biggest reimagining of Sky in our history” because it would segment the market across low-spending customers and those willing to pay top dollar for the most innovative services. He declined to comment on his expectations for how many users would upgrade to it.

The technology will be pushed out in Germany and Italy over time. Sky has 12 million customers in the UK and Ireland, 7 million of whom take Sky Plus, its present premium product.

Sky argued that other markets have used specific brands to target particular consumers, such as BMW aiming Rolls-Royce cars at the wealthy and Mini targeting those on a smaller budget. However, it said that it had no plans to do anything similar with its products.

“We have no intention of making a gold-plated £250,000 set-top box,” Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s chief marketing officer, said.

Shares in Sky added 1p to close at £10.92.