Sky Anytime+ review

John Archer



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Sky Anytime+
  • Sky Anytime+
  • Sky Anytime+
  • Sky Anytime+
  • Sky Anytime+
  • Sky Anytime+
  • Sky Anytime+


Our Score:



  • Picture quality of downloads is good
  • More content and channels available than you might expect
  • The service is available at no extra cost to Sky subscribers


  • Presentation is cumbersome
  • Programme catch-up service is inconsistent
  • True on-demand content not available in HD

Key Features

  • Mix of HD and standard def content
  • Both pre-loaded and true 'on-demand' content
  • Files download to HDD for viewing
  • Content available depends on Sky sub
  • Watch on-demand content while it's still downloading
  • Manufacturer: Sky
  • Review Price: free/subscription

As of 21 March, Sky has finally opened up its Anytime+ on-demand service to all of its subscribers with HD receiver boxes. And frankly it's about ruddy time.

Prior to that red letter day, the Sky Anytime+ service, with its extensive catch up functionality, was only available to Sky TV subscribers who were signed up to Sky’s broadband package. Even back in 2010 when the Anytime service first launched this situation seemed blatantly unfair; why should one Sky subscriber be able to get this extensive value-added service FREE so long as they changed their broadband to Sky, while other Sky subscribers paying the same subscription fees but using other broadband platforms weren’t able to get it?

Sky’s suggestion was that it had to be this way so that they could have complete control over the delivery of the service in its formative period. But it’s also hard not to think that Anytime was being used as a rather grimy marketing ploy to try and ramp up subscribers to the Sky broadband service.

Whatever the truth of the matter, though, the ironic thing has been that the longer Sky stuck to its ‘Anytime+ for Sky broadband users only’ policy, the more it’s seemed to us as if the policy has been hurting Sky rather than helping it. For while Anytime+ was ahead of the game in on-demand TV terms, but it quickly had the wind taken out of its sails by the growth of on-demand TV services from other sources - especially Smart TV platforms and, of course, Virgin’s TiVo receiver for cable subscribers. And with Anytime+ such a closed shop, many people have instinctively turned to these rival options for their rapidly growing on-demand needs.

Sky Anytime

Sky has certainly offered innovation elsewhere since 2010, especially with its rather brilliant Sky Go service. But nonetheless, for at least the past year, Sky not giving the majority of its subscribers a ‘proper’ on-demand service on even its most recent 1TB Sky HD receiver has started to really hurt the platform’s appeal – as well as its reputation as a technology innovator.

The arrival of Sky Anytime to ALL Sky subscribers with a Sky HD receiver and ANY broadband contract is long overdue. But is the service as it stands today really worth networking your Sky receiver for?

First, it’s pleasing to discover that the process for ‘converting’ your HD receiver to Anytime isn’t at all difficult. A quick phone call to Sky or visit to Sky’s website is all it takes to register yourself for the service, and aside from that all you have to do is connect your receiver to your broadband router via an Ethernet port or optional (£60) Sky Wireless Connector.

If even the above procedures have you shaking in your boots, fear not: for £40 a Sky engineer can be sent out to set things up for you, using a wired connection.

Sky Anytime

Having followed the above procedures and rebooted our Sky HD receiver for good measure, we were rather surprised not to find the Anytime service being shouted about by anything on the Sky Planner menu. There’s just the same Anytime menu entry as before.

The change when you select the Anytime option, though, is immediately obvious. For in place of the simple text lists of programmes Sky had previously ‘sent’ to the old Anytime section of your box’s memory in the hope you might want to watch them, you’re now greeted by five flashly presented ‘showcase’ programmes, accompanied by swish HD stills from the content they contain. You can scroll across the ‘Showcase’ list, with just over 30 titles available in this initial section at the time of writing.

Some of the programmes in this showcase are actually already installed to hard disk as part of the traditional Anytime service. But many others are truly ‘on-demand’; which is to say they’re stored on Sky’s servers, and have to be downloaded to your receiver when you want to watch them.

It’s worth noting here that some of the programmes available in Anytime are in HD. But these programmes are only those that were already uploaded to your box as part of the normal Anytime service. On-demand content to be streamed to your box is only available in standard definition. More on this later.


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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