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Sky Anytime+ - Performance and Conclusions

John Archer

By John Archer



Our Score:


When it comes to actually watching Sky Anytime+ on-demand programming, it’s good to discover that Sky doesn’t insist on making you wait for an entire programme to download into your box’s memory before you can start watching. As soon as you have enough downloaded to support uninterrupted viewing while the rest of the programme downloads in the background, the ‘play’ icon becomes available and you can start viewing.

This ‘viewing point’ is generally reached within just a few seconds of a download starting, even using our bog-standard 6Mbps BT Internet connection.

In terms of file size, this clearly differs radically depending on the running length of what you’re downloading. But as a basic guide, a 90 minute standard def documentary came in at 1.14GB. And you will be pleased to know that none of the on-demand content contains any adverts.

Sky Anytime

When it comes to the image quality of downloaded material, actually, while it’s a little variable, for the most part it’s not bad at all. Obviously the HD fodder pre-loaded via the standard Anytime+ service looks pretty much pristine. But the standard definition on-demand material also looks less compressed than we’d expected too. There are signs of compression, but they’re generally cleverly hidden away in dark areas or background areas of picture that you’re not really focusing on.

Of course, the quality of on-demand image Sky can deliver is probably helped by the fact that it downloads programmes to hard disk for playback, and so can risk/cope with less compressed data streams than services which have to stream video for viewing completely live.

That the on-demand stuff on Anytime+ is stored to HDD (downloaded programmes appear in your main Planner alongside ‘normal’ recordings made through the EPG) is also beneficial because it means you can watch the download when you like – and pause and restart it when you like.

Given that Sky’s on-demand approach doesn’t require your broadband connection to handle live streaming, though, it’s perhaps a pity that Sky doesn’t provide you with at least the option to download HD versions of its film and TV series if they’re available. Also, none of the standard def downloads appear to ship with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks when maybe that too could be provided as an option for enthusiasts patient enough to wait for a longer download.

Sky might argue here that it doesn’t have much of a choice where HD and Dolby Digital audio are concerned. After all, there are still some HD receivers out there with pretty puny amounts of memory built-in, and these could quickly completely run out of recording menu if they suddenly find themselves downloading large amounts of on-demand HD content. But for us, at least having the option to downloaded HD versions of suitable programmes would have been appreciated.

Sky Anytime

As we draw to the end of this review, it occurs to us that you might be thinking that when you already have 200 channels of TV to watch on Sky as it is, it surely isn’t necessary for Sky to add a bounty of on-demand services. But our personal experience is actually that the sheer amount of TV stuff to try and keep up with on Sky means we routinely miss shows. In fact, the lack of any on-demand catch up service on Sky has been a source of irritation for longer than we can remember. So actually Anytime feels like a modern necessity rather than a rarely used luxury.


There’s no doubt that Anytime+ has its faults. It should have been made available to all Sky HD box owners regardless of broadband provider a long time ago. Its interface doesn’t do a great job of streamlining the quest for on-demand content. And the rather hit and miss nature of what’s available to watch will inevitably cause irritation from time to time.

But if our experience is anything to go by, for all its flaws Sky Anytime+ overall delivers one of the better-quality on-demand services around, and has enough content available on it to quickly become a big part of your viewing life.

Let’s not forget, either, that if you’re already a Sky subscriber with a Sky HD receiver, Sky Anytime+ is actually free. And the hefty sums you have to stump up for your Sky subscription each month certainly feel substantially easier to live with once they’re also bagging you the Anytime+ service.

Basically, while we’re not sure the new, ‘universal’ availability of Anytime+ will necessarily lure in millions more subscribers to Sky’s platform, it’s an undeniable fact that if you’re already a Sky user with a Sky HD box and broadband connection and you haven’t yet availed yourself of Anytime , then, well, you’re a bit daft, frankly.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Value 9


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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