Sky service review

John Archer




  • Recommended by TR

1 of 10

  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky
  • Sky


Our Score:



  • Huge number of channels - inc 66 HD
  • Sky Go 'portable' Sky service
  • Good picture and sound quality


  • Android support not up to scratch
  • Expensive if you have the full package
  • No 'backwards' EPG

Key Features

  • Digital Satellite Broadcaster
  • Hundreds of channels (66 HD)
  • Sky Go 'portable' service for iOS and some Android devices included in sub
  • Anytime+ on-demand service included in sub
  • Sky+ control app for iOS and Android
  • Manufacturer: BSkyB
  • Review Price: £21.50


The past 12-18 months have been ‘interesting’ for Sky. For where the satellite broadcaster once only had one real competitor for its subscription TV services, Virgin, it now finds itself under assault from an explosion of content providers all vying for our hard-earned cash. Netflix, LoveFilm, Blinkbox, AceTrax, BT Vision and others have all found a foothold in the UK's living rooms, especially since some of them started to provide 'portals' on such living room-friendly devices as games consoles and smart TVs.


There's even been a renewed assault from 'free' TV services like Freeview and Freesat, which have both offered new subscription-free recording devices offering at least some of the functionality offered by Sky's platform. In fact, with their seven day backwards EPGs, Freeview's YouView and Freesat's Freetime boxes actually offer a significant feature that Sky's system currently does not.

Sky - Shifting habits

Even the way we watch TV has shifted dramatically, as more and more of us have shifted our viewing habits from 'live' to 'on demand' content.

Sky hasn't just sat on its hands idly watching the competition invade its lucrative space, however. A quite remarkable period of innovation from the broadcaster began with the launch of the UK's first 3D channel in April 2010. Then on March 21 2012 it opened up its Anytime on-demand TV and movie service to ALL Sky subscribers, rather than just those signed up to Sky's broadband service.


This was followed on July 17th by another hugely significant move when Sky launched Now TV; an on-demand service allowing even people who don't have Sky TV subscriptions to access a healthy chunk of Sky's immense movie library, with other 'channels' of content promised in the coming months.

Sky - Small steps

We've looked at the 3D, Anytime and Now TV platforms in separate reviews, though, so while all three probably warrant a return visit at some point, here we're going to focus on the raft of smaller-individually but in-total-significant improvements that have become available to Sky subscribers in the past year or so.

The single most important of these additions has to be Sky Go. This basically enables Sky subscribers to watch Sky channels live or on demand on their portable devices. It sounds pretty simple when you just write it down like that, but the reality of it is a joy to use (so long as you’re an iOS user... More on this soon). There are currently more than 30 channels you can watch live, including a great mix of movies, sport, entertainment and children's stuff. Plus there are hundreds more TV episodes/series and films available to watch on demand.


The interface for watching everything is sublimely simple, and the quality of the streams is usually strong as long as the local network or wi-fi performance is half decent.

Sky Go Limitations

There are, though, a couple of significant limitations to Sky Go. The more forgivable of these is that it doesn't work outside the UK, which has proved a frustration on a number of our travels over the year. This situation was always likely to be unavoidable, though, given the local nature of Sky’s licensing deals.

Much tougher to forgive is the way Sky Go still isn't available in full - or even at all, in some cases - for all Android devices. A full list of Sky's 'approved' devices can be found here, but we can't help but feel that Sky has had long enough to have made the app more or less universal now.

We've also found the Android app prone to performing less ably in picture quality terms than the Apple app - or, at least, it seems more dependent on the quality of your connection than the Apple version.

Steve Williams

January 17, 2013, 1:38 pm

New features are all well and good but the Sky box doen't even do series link correctly. Series link on Sky means it will record the program only if it is on the same day at the same time next week. As soon as there is a double episode; fail. As soon as something is on more than once a week; fail. As soon as something takes a break for a few weeks; fail. It's shocking.


January 17, 2013, 2:43 pm

I downloaded the Sky app on a Nexus 7 and was hugely disappointed by how little it does.


January 17, 2013, 6:57 pm

Sky Go also won't run on rooted devices. So I can't run it on my rooted S3 and I can't run it on my non-rooted Transformer Prime because it's not compatible (even though the insides are almost identical to the compatible Nexus 7).

Sky has also made sure that none of the methods for hiding root will work.

Sky Go is dead to me.


January 17, 2013, 11:56 pm

Mostly I like Sky. Catchup works now and their own commissioned content has markedly improved, but they do only really like iOS. The Sky Sports app on the iPad is great though, especially the F1 content. My major gripe is the HD charge. In 2013 they are still charging £10.25 a month to see a few extra channels in HD, Really poor.


January 18, 2013, 2:21 am

Thanks for the article - didn't realise how much Sky has changed in the past year or two.

Any chance of a similar catchup article for Virgin Media TV, especially now TiVo's had time to settle in, and similar on-the-go apps have been released for it on iOS.


January 18, 2013, 2:25 am

Thanks for the article - didn't realise how much Sky has changed in the past year or two.

Any chance of a similar catchup article for Virgin Media TV, especially now TiVo's had time to settle down, and similar on-the-go apps have been released for it on iOS?


January 18, 2013, 8:08 am

Sky Go is really cool but the only compatible device I have is my Xbox which I use it on constantly. Its a real shame Sky are mostly ios focused, I would have liked to have a Windows 8 app I can use to watch on my Surface and on my windows phone when on the move. TVCatchup and Netflix run beautifully on my Surface.

Oh and you missed the windows 8 sky news app, its quite nice. Look it up, its free.

John Archer

February 5, 2013, 1:34 pm

Hello all. Since I wrote this article, Sky has improved its Android support quite a bit - sufficiently to warrant recognition here, I think. First, Sky Go Android support has now been added for the following devices: HTC Desire X, HTC Desire One X, HTC Desire One XL, HTC One S, HTC One V, Google Nexus 4 & 7, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Sony Xperia S, Sony Xperia T, and the LG 4X HD.

Second, Sky has just (as of Feb 5th) introduced to Android devices its Sky+ App, allowing you to control internet-connected Sky+ HD boxes via Android phones and tablets.

On a different note Sky has also introduce Sky Go Extra, allowing you to pay an extra subscription to download shows for later viewing rather than just streaming them as you do with the main Sky Go service.

Basically, the fact that all this has gone on in the space of the three weeks or so since I wrote the article simply underlines how busy Sky seems to be right now.

comments powered by Disqus