As reported by TechRadar, Sky has sent out an invitation for a big launch event in London on October 7, 2021, with the tag line "something magical is coming... be one of the first to see it".
The report then speculates as to what the "something magical" could be, with a new, streaming-only, satellite-free Sky Q set top box the theorised most likely option.
The evidence for a new streaming-only Sky Q box is multiple fold, including:
1. Sky Q over just an internet connection has been officially tested and has been slowly rolled out across Europe, with Germany the latest country to get this version of the service. The internet-powered Sky Q boxes have been limited, though, to 1080p in terms of resolution, but that is thought to be about to be upgraded to 4K. Is the UK the next country to get this hardware?
2. The original Sky Q box was released five years ago, and while it has seen numerous feature upgrades over the years since, it feels very much like the core hardware is due a refresh. Could this be achieved by introducing a smaller, streaming-only Sky Q box?
3. Sky as a company very rarely holds in-person events for minor updates, with empirical evidence suggesting that something much bigger is incoming. And, while that could be something else than a new Sky Q box, it would have to be something major, like a new collaboration like the Sky Soundbox.
As to why Sky would potentially want to introduce a full Sky TV over broadband service in the UK, the answer is quite obvious. It would allow it to tap into new markets, markets that up until now it's only been able to do so with its sister-brand NOW. With streaming-only Sky on the menu, renters and those living in buildings where a satellite can't be installed suddenly have access to Sky TV.
What will be interesting to see, though, if Sky does indeed go on to introduce a streaming-only Sky Q box is, one, if it delivers complete parity in terms of audio-visual performance to the satellite and internet powered Sky Q box and, two, if it will still require a 18-month contract commitment.
Right now the major difference between Sky Q and the NOW offering is that content on NOW can be picked up on a monthly basis, which is good in terms of flexibility. So how NOW would be differentiated from Sky if both offered pure streaming solutions would be interesting to see.
But wait, it might not be a new Sky TV box, right?
Absolutely. Right now we have no other clue as to what Sky is going to announce at its "magical" event on October 7 in London.
It could be a new channel, suite of content, third-party accessory tie-in, new hardware partnership or just a massive software refresh.
All of these options seem more unlikely, though, than new core Sky TV hardware for the reasons outlined above, and T3's opinion is that, yes, we are going to see it.
Until then, though, there's not much else that can be discerned from the information we have available to us. Naturally, T3 received an invite to Sky's big launch event, and will report in from the show. Be sure to check back in to T3 next month for the full picture.
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