Sky’s announcement of its Sky Q suite of devices is a pivotal one for the broadcasting giant as it continues its hard push to keep the company relevant in a streaming world. It’s a service that Sky hopes will ‘free your TV’ and on paper that is exactly what it offers - as long as you buy into Sky’s ecosystem.
Sky Q is the on-demand watching experience for the home that has been much promised by Sky but never really appeared. Currently, you can watch Sky content on a tablet through Sky Go but that viewing experience is separate to what you do on your set-top box. All of the recommendations you get - and will increasingly get - aren’t there. The devices are separate things nestled under the Sky banner.
Sky Q changes this. It ‘opens up’ what you have on your main device - the new Sky Q Silver box - and allows you to view stored, live or streaming content through two tablets and two smaller Sky Q Mini boxes, while recording up to four channels at once. This is the first time Sky has offered its full multi-room service without extra boxes having to be tethered to a dish.
Everything’s connected in this new Sky world - whatever you do on one device, can be picked up on another. Sky calls it Fluid Viewing. I call it ‘functionality that should have happened years ago’.
Sky Q isn’t the broadcaster’s big response to Netflix and Amazon’s steady rise, Now TV takes that accolade. Rather, Sky Q is the premium part of its programming puzzle. It’s Sky wanting to take total control of the living room, the bedroom, the spare room and everything in between. There is a very good reason it has added Apple Air Play functionality to the box, and created its own WiFi hotspot system, because this is the start of Sky’s smart home setup, a service it has been keen to highlight will grow and grow.
Sky of yore used to work at a glacial pace. Being such a behemoth in the broadcast market, with a loyal fanbase and the best content, it didn’t really need to change its ways. It had the sports area tied up, its movies offering was premium and second to none and watching through a satellite was the preferred upgrade choice to those looking to step beyond terrestrial.
Skip to today and the market has dramatically shifted. BT has started snatching key sport, namely football, content. Netflix and Amazon have shown that the web isn’t the ugly cousin of broadcast but the future and a place where HDR and 4K titles can flourish. But if the service you watch this content on isn’t good enough, then the user will suffer.
Sky Q is Sky recognising the need to change, to adapt, but also to prove that an all-in-one subscription service is still the way forward, even if you have left linear TV behind.
For Sky, content has always been king, and now it sits on top of a silver throne.