Sky Introduces New VOD Product, Sky Anytime+ - With A Caveat - Some VOD Subscribers Pay For Extra Bandwidth

written by: Richard Kastelein

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UK Sky's recent press release on their new VOD offering apparently neglected to note one important fact - according to Farncombe Consultants :

"...users on Sky Broadband's cheaper package, the download of around three 30-minute standard definition programmes a month would already reach the maximum 2GB usage allowance, creating the incentive for users to upgrade to Sky's uncapped package. This approach differs from that of rivals BT Vision and Virgin Media, neither of which counts VOD usage towards their broadband usage caps." BSkyB is an early example of this trend, and is gambling that its customers will accept paying extra for broadband as a fair exchange for access to a free VOD offer.

Sky Anytime+, Sky's new internet delivered video-on-demand (VoD) service, began rolling-out to some ten million UK Sky+HD homes from last Tuesday and Sky+HD set-top boxes will be able to connect to the Sky Broadband network to access a comprehensive on-demand service, to complement Sky+ and the existing Sky Anytime 'push' VoD service.

According to Sky's press release, Once connected, customers will have the opportunity to access an updating library of content which they can 'pull' to their TVs to watch whenever they like and customers can access over 600 films, popular entertainment and drama 'box-sets' (including iconic series from HBO), documentaries, the arts and much more besides. As well as offering content from Sky Movies, Sky Sports, Sky Arts and Sky 1, the service will also offer a wide range of programming from third party channels, with the on-demand library continuing to build over the coming months.

The Sky Anytime+ interface is an extension of the existing Sky+HD electronic programme guide (EPG). The use of thumbnail images, editorialised listings and helpful search tools means that content discovery is intuitive and straightforward. Sky Anytime+ works on a progressive download basis which means content becomes available to view before it has fully downloaded. For most customers this means content is ready to watch in less than a minute.

The confirmation of the launch of Sky Anytime+ comes as Sky reveals its latest trading update for the 3 months ending the 30 th September 2010. During the quarter Sky added 96,000 new TV customers, taking its total customer base to 9,956,000. The quarter also saw continued growth in the other products and services Sky offers, particularly Sky Broadband and Sky+HD.

In just four years almost 30% of Sky customers have signed up to Sky Broadband with 2,802,000 now taking the service. With its fastest growth in more than two years, Sky remains the UK's fastest growing ISP. During the quarter, Sky also extended its High Definition (HD) leadership, with over 3,154,000 homes now able to access Sky's 50 HD channels. Sky also launched Europe's first residential 3D TV channel, Sky 3D.

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky's Deputy MD of Marketing, comments :

"Sky Anytime+ demonstrates the benefit of being able to use the best combination of distribution platforms in delivering what our customers want. Through Sky Broadband customers can now explore a rich library of programming to watch on-demand through their TVs. Meanwhile satellite continues to satisfy the increasing demand for high bandwidth services like HD and 3D, and Sky+ continues to help customers define their own schedules from the best of the week's TV.

"We're introducing Sky Anytime+ against the backdrop of another really strong quarter for Sky Broadband with our fastest growth in over two years. Customers are responding to our mix of high quality, great value broadband products. At the same time we continue to increase the number of our TV customers, with millions now opting to take our state-of-the-art Sky+HD box."

Sky Anytime+ will be rolled out to all Sky+HD boxes beginning from 26 th October 2010. The majority of Sky's HD boxes will be ready to receive the service by the end of the year with the remaining boxes to follow in a phased roll out through the first part of 2011.

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