Given the meaty Sky subscription prices, it’s a relief to find that the Sky HD movie offering included within Sky’s top-tier package is actually impressively extensive. There are no less than nine themed HD movie channels under Sky’s own banner: Sky Modern Greats HD, Sky Sci-fi/Horror HD, Sky Drama HD, Sky Family HD, Sky Action HD, Sky Comedy HD, Sky Screen 2 HD, Sky Screen 1 HD, and Sky Premiere HD. On top of this, other HD channels available on the Sky platform – BBC HD, Channel 4 HD, Sci-Fi HD and FX HD, in particular – regularly show films in HD as well.
Also impressive is the fact that most of Sky’s film channels run full 24-hour schedules. The only exceptions, in fact, are Sky Premiere HD, which runs from 10am to around 2am, and Sky Sci-Fi/Horror HD, which runs previews from around 5am to 8am.
Not surprisingly, the 24-hour channels don’t generally show completely different films throughout the day, mind you; rather they seem to repeat the same films three or four times over a 24 hour period, so that each channel probably shows four or five different films each day. Plus, of course, films are regularly repeated on different days.
But even with that in mind, Sky’s HD film offering is still easily the most prodigious currently available in the UK outside of a Blu-ray store. Come to think of it, there are seemingly far more HD titles available on Sky than you’ll find in any Blu-ray store. Especially when it comes to back catalogue titles.
The system for accessing HD titles on Sky’s platform is OK, but in many ways not as impressive as the one found on the Xbox 360.
Sky helpfully allows you to call up a list on its electronic programme guide system that only shows HD programmes, making it relatively straightforward work to find all the movie channels from amid the hundreds of channels available on Sky’s platform. On Sky’s original EPG, which some people still receive on their HD boxes, you can actually see all the Sky-branded HD movie channels on a single screen of listings, which makes scrolling through them looking for interesting titles in the coming week a doddle.
With Sky’s new ‘HD’ electronic programme guide, now available on some HD boxes, things aren’t quite as straightforward, since you can only fit six of the nine channels onscreen at once. But clearly this is only a pretty minor irritation, and is to some extent compensated for by the much superior title search engine supported by the new EPG.
However, there’s no artwork to accompany the films like you get with the Xbox 360’s listings, and the synopses of available titles are much shorter than those found on the Microsoft platform. Furthermore, you can’t access on Sky a trailer/teaser of a title you’re interested in like you can on the 360.