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Sky Unveils On Demand Download Service

Gordon Kelly


Sky Unveils On Demand Download Service

While it is true Sky has the most comprehensive HD line up in the UK, it has long lacked any true form of on demand content delivery service. Until now...

Speaking to Pocket Lint today, Sky has demoed the successor to Sky Anytime dubbed - wait for it - 'Sky Anytime Plus' and it makes the crucial jump into downloadable digibox content. A video run through can be viewed below, but in short more than 500 movies and "hundreds of hours of programmes" will be made available to Sky HD viewers through its EPG via an OTA firmware update "later in the year".

"There will be over 1000 hours of entertainment", said Sky TV service head Kathryn Downward. "All movie houses are expected to be on board and we are talking to the {UK} terrestrial channels as well".

Like existing on demand services, users will not need to wait for a download to complete, it will buffer and begin playing within one minute. Downloads can also be scheduled and will continue even when the digibox is in standby. Anytime Plus will take advantage of the long dormant Ethernet port on Sky HD boxes, though a separate box is needed (below) is users are to connect via WiFi.

Downsides? Yes there always are. Firstly - as already hinted at - Anytime Plus will only be available to Sky HD subscribers. This is most likely because it uses the new Sky EPG which isn't available to Sky+ customers (I personally prefer the old UI - less lag), though with no HD content available initially it is infuriating.

Secondly (third if you count the HD omission), Sky will require Anytime Plus users to connect to the Internet via a Sky broadband connection. It gave no reason for this bizarre decision (if we're being charitable: concerns about caps on other ISPs?), but it will be frustrating to those happy with their existing services and particularly irksome to subscribers of jet propelled cable broadband. On the plus side, Sky did say it would look to remove this restriction in time.

Ultimately though this is a positive step for Sky and backs up its already impressive Sky Player online service. With a deal for Virgin's broadcast channels also in the offing it will soon be the only option for home cinema fanatics with a lust for all things HD...

Link: Pocket Lint


June 2, 2010, 8:19 pm

@Gordon I'm sure you know what you intended to say :-) "...,though a separate box is needed (below) is users are to connect via WiFi."

The limitation of broadband provider to that of SKY seems necessary. I can only think it is because a) SKY is concerned about download speeds and customer experience (which I'm dubious about) and/or b) Sky see this as a way of increasing that source of revenue.

Personally I hate Anytime and hardly use it. I'd rather have the extra space on my hard disk that Anytime uses!

Tim Sutton

June 2, 2010, 8:35 pm

1.13 GB for an 88 minute film in HD? How does that add up?


June 2, 2010, 8:44 pm

From the looks of it there won't be any On Demand stuff from BBC, ITV or Five yet (from first glance), so that's disappointing. However, it does erode one of the main selling points of Virgin's service, VoD, even though it's very much dependent on your broadband connection. Will be interesting how Virgin's new TiVo box turns out (should be released in time for Christmas).


June 2, 2010, 8:49 pm

"Sky will require Anytime Plus users to connect to the Internet via a Sky broadband connection"

I saw this coming as soon as I spotted that coloured 'reserved' ethernet port on my Sky supplied router. I suspect the service will also require that you use that router, which I'm not currently doing, but at least they'll have a valid technical reason to mandate it now. It's probably there for QoS reasons to prioritise traffic to the HD box, which should hopefully keep playback smooth and judder free.

I'm glad to hear this is finally coming, but no HD?!? Fail.


June 2, 2010, 8:55 pm

would be nice to see the ethernet port used to function as a dnli access port so it could stream my music/video from my PC... now that would be good.


June 2, 2010, 9:08 pm

less lag on the new UI? Not if you have DRX890 or 895, much quicker. Smaller box and quieter too compared with the previous Thomson HiDef box.


June 2, 2010, 9:18 pm

Hmm I have ethernet connection behind my TV for the Xbox, and I have Sky Broadband, so I should be able to take advantage of this.

I agree that Sky's existing anytime system could use some work as well, it should take into account your personal viewing habits imo (if it does at the moment, it doesnt do it very well), and you should be able to set how much of the disc is used (more choice, longer distance back in time vs space for normal recordings)


June 2, 2010, 9:33 pm

@ Tim, I doubt that the 1.13Gb Hancock is in HD, also @ Pbryanw it doesn't quite erode one of Virgins selling points, as you don't have to download using their VoD. It does make things more interesting though!! also like you said it will indeed be interesting once Virgin release their TiVo box how Sky is able to counter its abilities/function...


June 2, 2010, 10:09 pm

@Aidey: I would love to see Sky improve their PVRs in response to pressure from Virgin's TiVo. I don't see it happening though. My 10 year old TiVo Series1 had many useful features that my Sky HD box still lacks, and it was faster and more responsive to boot.

David Horn

June 3, 2010, 2:51 am

Be nice if they explained why you have to sacrifice 50% of your disk space to the pointless Anytime service in the first place - even if you turn it off! Anytime is a nice concept, but it only ever downloads stuff I don't subscribe to so the disk space is wasted twice.

Martin 6

June 3, 2010, 7:30 pm

"Sky will require Anytime Plus users to connect to the Internet via a Sky broadband connection"

@HDRE - Maybe SKY is concerned about download speeds and customer experience - any ISP will give the end user the same speeds on the same piece of copper to the address

@Chris Maybe SKY has put it there for QoS reasons to prioritise traffic to the HD box - BT do not utilise any QoS control protocols over the public networks only leased lines and private circuits, so it does not work.

There can only be two reasons for SKY to limit to it's own broadband connection HDRE got the first and that is to get more people to use it and thus gain more revenue - Hmm surely that needs reporting to OFT.

The other is just so they can analyse performance of the service.

It might also make a case for people that sky are over charging some customers with other broadband providers as they cannot receive the same service but have to pay the same price Trading Standards or the OFT anyone?

I have watched more than a few Anytime programs but only ones that I thought I mightrecord that, then I did not bother and a week later thought there was nothing on and saw it on Anytime.

you have to ask with Sky + or HD why you need a anytime record service for programs you could have recorded if you wanted to anyhow!

Personally I would record more things if my HD Box let me utilise the 100+GB that is reserved Anytime especially as some of the channels I don't subscribe to so cannot watch either.


June 3, 2010, 10:58 pm

@Martin: Regardless of what BT provide, QoS can still be implemented by the router on the local network. In this way, the other clients' activities on the LAN shouldn't disrupt the VoD streaming.

>"you have to ask with Sky + or HD why you need a anytime record service for programs you could have recorded if you wanted to anyhow!"

You could apply that argument to any VoD service. I mean, it's not like iPlayer is popular, right? Oh, wait...


June 4, 2010, 3:53 am

Sky broadband required so they can use every HD box as peers in a P2P network; discounting the Anytime Plus traffic from your download cap? Spot of embedded Kontiki?

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