Back in July Sky announced its tasty looking video streaming and download service, and now it’s about to go live.
Now christened ‘skybybroadband’, the service allows subscribers of Sky’s satellite service to access a wide range of content shown on its multitudinous channels and will not just be available to PC users, but 3G mobile phone users as well.
Eligibility for downloads is fairly straightforward. Shell out for Sky Movies 1 & 2 and access to Hollywood blockbusters previously shown by the Murdock monolith and classic titles are yours. Cough up for Sky Sports 1 & 2 and streaming football, rugby, cricket and golf highlights are made available. Sports news videos and breaking stories are also offered, though as yet sadly there are no plans to stream live events. Parental controls are included to stop kiddies watching the sorts of movies that corrupted me as a child and software must be downloaded and installed to get users started.
Video quality at launch is decent if hardly earth shattering, encoded at a variable bit rate of 860kbps with a native resolution of 540 x 432. Obviously Sky is concerned about the time required to download larger files, with the average movie coming in at around 700MB, but with 2Mbps connections almost universally installed across the nation’s homes (though not without their fair share of troubles, tut tut BT) that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Sadly DRM does get its nasty head involved with clips only able to play on the PC it is downloaded too (which makes no sense in this portable age) and the licence to play a film or video expires after 30 days. So clearly is Sky cautious about providing a service which could undercut its main business.
Due to go live ‘in the next few days’, skybybroadband will no doubt be a tidy little earner for the dubious Australian and a dry run for the company’s greater streaming ambitions (why put a satellite on everyone’s house, when ADSL2+ will get content there without all the fuss). Let’s hope Stage 2 isn’t far away…