Sky TV and Sky Q updates will revolutionise your TV viewing this year

Is this the year Sky Q ditches the dish, goes fully voice controlled and truly tailors its programme guide to you?

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Sky Q has just enjoyed a pretty phenomenal 12 months, and that looks set to continue in 2019. Last year, with the arrival of Netflix, Sky introduced a new "Ultimate On Demand" package that combines Sky Box Sets, complete with its back catalogue of 500 UK and US series, and the full Netflix service for £10 a month. Sky also dramatically increased the amount of Ultra HD content available – doubling what was available in previous years to over 1,000 hours of UHD content.

However, it seems that 2019 could be even more impressive for Sky Q subscribers. Sky has already teased a number of innovations in the pipeline that are due to be rolled-out to its satellite boxes over the next 12 months. Let's take an in-depth look at what we know so far…

A More Personal Experience

One of our biggest gripes with Sky Q at the moment is that it has no concept of the fact that multiple people watch the television in the living room. So, while its personalised recommendations work very well, the Sky Q box does seem to think that whoever watches bloodthirsty horror movies like Hostel also has a penchant for back-to-back episodes of Peppa Pig first thing on a Saturday morning ... 

Fortunately, Sky will solve that problem with individual profiles for Sky Q this year. According to the broadcaster, these will allow the satellite box to recommend shows and movies to individual family members based on their unique tastes.

Sky has also pledged to "enhance the platform’s data-driven recommendations," so you can find new shows you'll love, more easily.

Ditching The Dish

Sky first revealed plans to allow its television service to be beamed into homes without a dish strapped to side of your house back in 2017.

Jeremy Darroch said streaming the full Sky Q experience over a fibre broadband connection would enable Sky to target more than six million households across Europe and two million in the UK who don't own – or don't want to own – a dish.

At present, there's no specific update on when prospective buyers will be able to get their hands on this new, broadband-only Sky Q option. However, Sky pledged to begin to offer Sky Q without the need for a satellite dish in Austria and Italy sometime this year during its latest earnings call. A few months earlier, the company had revealed plans to launch Sky Q on selected smart TVs and via third-party devices, opening up the service to more people.

It's unclear whether these viewers will be able to pay for a single subscription via these new apps or whether these will only be available to existing customers, as is the case with the standalone Sky Go app already on PS4, Xbox, tablets and smartphones.

These updates build on last year's Sky exploits, when Sky Q received a new menu design that added viewers’ Most Recent Recordings and Favourite Channels to the homepage for the first time. The visual spring-clean, launched in March, also brought curated Box Sets, Movies, and Catch-Up TV based on users’ viewing history.

Later in the year, Sky introduced Spotify and Netflix apps to Sky Q – allowing subscribers to sign-in and stream music, movies and television series from the hitherto rival services on their main satellite box.

During its fourth quarterly earnings call of 2018, Sky told investors about a number of the improvements planned for Sky Q in 2019, including new voice control abilities.

The UK broadcaster was intriguingly little vague on the details, revealing that it was developing, "A hands-free TV experience with our next-generation of voice control."

Sky has been slowly improving the voice search capabilities of its Sky Q box, recently adding the ability to ask for recommended films and shows with a voice command. It also allows viewers to search by directors, actors and even quotes from popular movies – so shouting "Show Me The Money!" at your remote will load up Jerry Maguire.

However, it's still impossible to navigate around the user interface using only your voice, so don't bother asking to "take me to BBC One" as yet.

"You'll be able to beg for Benedict, summon Discovery of Witches, or simply ask it to record your favourite shows as Sky Q takes voice control to the next level," Sky teased about its new hands-free experience last year.

The change could see an end to the days of losing your TV remote because, as chief executive Jeremy Darroch joked during the quarterly earnings call, "You can't lose your voice down the back of the sofa".

Following its recent partnerships with Spotify and Netflix, we wouldn't be surprised to see Sky strike a deal with the likes of Google or Amazon to incorporate their Google Home and Alexa smart home voice assistant systems with Sky Q. Barking recording requests to the Amazon Echo in your kitchen while you're cooking could be supremely useful, after all.

According to Sky, its platform already sees 11 million voice requests each month.

More BBC Boxsets

Sky is always looking to expand the range of shows available on Sky Q. As well as increasing the number of Ultra HD movies and sporting events available on the satellite service, Sky has also delved into the BBC archives to add some classic comedy series to the on-demand catalogue.

Sky and BBC announced the details of a new detail in March that will see a range of classic boxsets, like those the Beeb is likely to use to entice subscribers to its own paid-for BritBox streaming service later this year, to the Sky Box Sets menu.

According to Sky, the box sets include iconic comedies like The Vicar of Dibley and Only Fools and Horses, as well as more recent hits like McMafia and Spooks, that are currently available on the BBC iPlayer catch-up service, which can be accessed from the Sky Q at the moment. Other shows include Absolutely Fabulous, Blackadder, The Royle Family, Little Britain, Open All Hours, The Young Ones, Keeping Up Appearances, Red Dwarf and Extras.

After this initial run, Sky will bring more BBC shows from the archive, including the likes of The Last Post, Father Brown, QI, Top Gear, The League of Gentleman, and Ashes to Ashes amongst others.

Sky says we can expect to see the first fruits of this new partnership appear on Sky boxes nationwide "from April". So keep your eyes peeled.