Sky Anytime+ - Features and Services

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


Just above the main list of programmes on the Sky Anytime+ screen are sub-category headers to help you find something you want to watch more easily. The categories on offer are: Sky Store, Movies, Entertainment, Docs, Kids, Sports, All, and Channels. And within each of these sub-categories you tend to get similar sets of sub-folders to delve into, usually based around All, Most Popular, Recently Added, Last Chance, and various genre definitions.

Not surprisingly, the free on-demand content available in these sections is largely dependent on the level of subscription you have. For instance, if you’re not a subscriber to Sky Movies, you won’t be able to access films on demand from the Sky Movies library. However, the Store section of Anytime lets all Sky customers with a Sky HD box choose from thousands of titles available to rent. Rental prices range between £1.49 and £2.00, the films take in anything from the latest blockbusters to smaller indie movies and back catalogue titles.

For us, the highlights of the Anytime proposition were the Entertainment, Docs and Sports sections. The Entertainment section, for instance, provides the facility to catch up with previous episodes of some quite high-profile programmes, such as Hawaii Five-O, Touch, Luck, Grey’s Anatomy, and Mad Men.

Some of these programmes have the past few episodes available to watch, some have just the most recently shown episode available to watch, and in a few cases you can even access an entire series.

Sky Anytime

This inconsistency in terms of how far back the on-demand episode lists go for different channels and programmes is potentially a bit annoying. But then it’s difficult to blame Sky for this situation; after all, different content providers have different rules about how far back they want ‘catch up’ services to go, and it’s actually fairly standard practice in the catch up TV world to only have a single episode of a series available on catch up at any one time.

So you could argue that having more than one episode of any series in the Entertainment section is a bonus. And by that reckoning, having full season collections of some series, such as An Idiot Abroad and Boardwalk Empire, could be considered a major result.

The problem is, once you have found some series available as full on-demand ‘boxsets’ or with a few catch up episodes, you can’t help but expect the same level of provision for every show – no matter how unreasonable such expectations might be.

As a perfect example of this, it's hard not to feel annoyed that the full first series of Game of Thrones isn't available to watch on Anytime+ ahead of the second series starting. But of course, the reality of this particular situation is that with Game of Thrones Season 1 recently launched on Blu-ray, HBO was almost certainly never going to give Sky the rights to make the first season available for free on Anytime+. At least for now. Once you give people a taste of something like Anytime+ does, though, it’s just human nature for those people to want more.

However, while issues over on-demand rights to different series will repeatedly cause disappointments for some viewers when they can’t find their favourite programmes available on catch-up, the reality is that the overall amount of content available on Sky Anytime+ is actually pretty high.

Sky Anytime

This is down in no small part to the high number of channels on-board the Anytime+ system. Look under the Channels banner and you’ll find the following list of on-demand participants: ITV Player, Sky1, Sky Living, Sly Atlantic, Watch, Gold, Dave, Comedy Central, FX, Challenge, MTV, alibi, Sky Arts 1 & 2, Home, bio, Discovery Real Time, Home and Health, Good Food, Sky Movies, Sky Sports, Sky Sports F1, ESPN Classic, Sky News, The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Wild, History, Military History, Crime and Investigation Network, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nickelodeon, Disney XD, The Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Nick Jr, and Cartoonito. Oh, and the BBC iPlayer is also due to arrive on Anytime+ before the end of the year. Phew.

The amount of content available is arguably greater than the current Anytime+ interface is capable of comfortably handling. There’s certainly a persistent sense that the current presentation format for the Anytime+ listings doesn’t handle the amounts of content particularly effectively, making it a bit of a chore to track down programmes that might not be featured on either the Showcase or Most Popular categories.

To be fair, it’s not especially easy to see how Sky could change the presentation radically while remaining within the established structure of its current electronic programme guide. But maybe it’s time for this while EPG to undergo a revamp? Also, we couldn't help but think it would be hugely helpful if the Anytime+ content could be added to Sky's excellent Sky listings app, as this would make finding desired content much easier.


March 30, 2012, 5:58 pm

I recently enabled Sky Anytime+, as I'm with plusnet and not sky for my Internet.

I needed a show I'd missed that was available on the PS3 / iPad / XBMC versions of the itv player: Britain's got talent, the first episode of the current season.

Aha! thought I, this gives me an excuse to try out the itv player channel under Anytime+. Sadly, at least for me, it didn't have the show, so I ended up having to use a plug in on the latest xbmc release to watch it.

Why they had different content lists is beyond me.

Other than that, I'm quite impressed so far with other things I have been able to download.


March 30, 2012, 6:23 pm

Bit disappointed to find that my Thomson HD box apparently is not 'optimised' for Anytime+. So being on an HD package doesn't guarantee you can use this new feature.


March 30, 2012, 6:26 pm

The lack of HD content is the biggest disappointment for me, especially as Sky have been a champion of HD - and make you pay extra for it too!

Also, though not a criticism of Anytime+ on the Sky box, the lack of consistency in terms of content across the Anytime+ service on the Sky Box, a PC or a mobile device is also rather annoying, when programmes are advertised as being available in Anytime+ without disclosing that it is only on certain platforms.


March 30, 2012, 8:21 pm

When I did a quick test on a movie it came down as HD. Well, it was 3.5GB and when played it stated it was in HD and looked HD.


March 30, 2012, 11:36 pm

Some people have managed to get a new HD box because they gave Sky a sob story about how their antiquated Thomson box couldn't receive Anytime+. If you haven't done so already, I'd give Sky a call, complain about how much you miss Anytime+ and see if they offer you anything.

There's also a significant chance that the capacitors in your Thomson's power supply will fail at some point. I've already had to replace mine...


March 31, 2012, 4:02 pm

That is right - almost all of the Movies on the service are available in both HD and SD, and some of the recent catchup material like Touch and Mad Men is too. It is not the most user friendly interface, but the material is there if you look beyond the main menus.


April 2, 2012, 1:48 pm

I Found most of the HD channels has on demand HD content? Especially Skys own channels (sport, movies, sky one etc)

Whilst reading the review, I thought it was probably to do with bandwith, as I'm with sky broadband. But i've fallen fowl to grabbing the wrong file before and getting the SD instead.

I found in the options somewhere a choice to have "original" HD content highlighted. So when something is in HD the text is in orange instead of white.

This also has the advantage of when looking at, say, the simpsons for instance, older episodes that are in SD and upscaled are in white text and the newer HD episodes are in orange.


April 3, 2012, 3:50 pm

well its great in the UK .. Not in the Republic what is a pity, chat session with support told me its not going to be released in ROI soon , chat with "live Irish Cork based helpdesk" to me that you need Skybroadband what is not even on offer in Ireland.. .... so there you go.. bah


April 3, 2012, 8:31 pm

Another problem I've found, which may be with either Sky or Plusnet (my ISP), is that somebody is traffic shaping the anytime+ traffic to 400kbps during peak hours. Still trying to get to the bottom of this. Hopefully it's just a simple matter of one or the other setting the right QoS.

Gareth Horton

September 30, 2013, 11:45 am

Surely on demand should mean what you require to watch is ready for you at the touch of a button not waiting bloody ages for It to download if Netflix can provide what yo want to at h at the touch of a button why can't sky total joke on demand is total crap as nothing as able to view there an then


January 1, 2014, 8:19 pm

Why isn't there a list/tab for the content that's pre downloaded to the box?, sometimes I want to watch without waiting for something to download bit of an odd over site especially as the list appears when turn router off...

Vince Hnderson

June 25, 2014, 7:11 pm

On demand - what a disappointment. Details if I get though.

Vince Hnderson

June 25, 2014, 7:17 pm

Sort of got through. Spent ages trying to explain to my nearly deaf, disabled, elderly mother, that all the money she was spending on Sky was becoming worth it now she could have "on demand". So the missed Eastenders was made "available". Took so long she had to leave it...and the next Eastenders because of the sequence. Then she tried to play it and there were no subtitles. What...with all their technology, no subtitles..say no more!. We will just spread the news; this is not progress, just pathetic selfishness'''

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