Preview: Sky Anytime +, Sky's revamped VOD service

Previews, Satellite TV, Tech Digest news

02062010204.jpgSky’s Anytime video on demand service is to get a massive overhaul later this year. Called Sky Anytime+, we got a sneak peak at at a preview event today which will allow Sky viewers almost instant access to over 500 movies and hundreds of hours of programming.

Piped into your existing Sky HD set-top box through an Ethernet connection, movies and shows will be offered up in standard definition as opposed to full HD, presented in a dedicated section of the Sky EPG. Programmes can be watched within a minute of selection n a 2MB broadband connection, taking around 20 minutes to download an average-length film.

Downloads can be queued, trailers can be watched and the whole system can be searched using a revamped interface tailored to hunting out specific VOD content. Content is subdivided by genre and channel, and can be searched using the alphabet characters on the Sky remote. Downloads can also continue while the box is on standby, using less power to grab shows and movies overnight.

Sky’s Box Office service is now fully on-demand too. Purchase a flick and it becomes available within minutes, rather than having to wait for one of the scheduled slots to begin.

A background over-the-air update later this year will upgrade all existing Sky HD boxes with the software needed to run Anytime+, so you wont have to really do a thing to get going with the new service. You wont need to upgrade your Sky HD box in any way, as it already features an Ethernet port which can be used to download the films to your box. However, a Wi-Fi unit will be available for those who’d rather a fully wireless set-up, which looks something like a mini Sky box. Made by NetGear, you’ll need a separate Wi-Fi box for each Sky HD box you want to connect to your router.

There is a catch however, and it’s a rather big one. The service will only be available to those who also subscribe to Sky’s own broadband package, or at least initially.

That means subscribing to Sky’s £7.50 a month 20MB broadband tariff. The service comes with an unlimited download quota , which is handy as you’ll burn through most limits within a few hours of using Sky Anytime+. Of course, the VOD content you can access is also limited to the Sky TV package that you’ve already purchased. Don’t expect to be streaming movies if you cant already access the Sky Movie channels.

With the service going head-to-head with Virgin’s own VOD service, you can understand Sky’s reasoning for this closed approach to other ISPs. It’s good to hear they are considering rolling it out to other ISPs in the future, but with the quality of the service at stake, Sky would not confirm whether or not other ISPs would ever become involved. It would have been great to have this feature from the off, but fingers crossed the service gets opened up eventually.

Providing it eventually rolls out to all broadband providers this service could be very exciting indeed. More news on this as we get it.

Gerald Lynch
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  • My Chat with Sky!!

    Chat InformationWelcome to Sky Live Chat Service. A Sky Advisor will be with you shortly.

    Chat InformationYou are now connected with David.

    David: Hello, you’re chatting with David, a Sky advisor, may I take your name please?

    You: Karl. I want to upgrade to Sky HD, but I have just noticed your Anytime+ service will only work with sky broadband customers, is this correct??

    David: Hello Karl, I’m sorry your having these problems

    David: The anytime+ is a trial so far, have sky contacted you previously about this?

    You: no, I have read it is due out later this year, however, if I upgrade and pay an additional £10 p/m – I would expect to have full functionality.

    You: despite the fact I am not a sky broadband customer

    David: Sorry, I’ve only been given this information so far. Could I ask where you read this? Was it a sky source i.e, a sky magazine?

    You: ; ; How do I get Sky Anytime+? Sky Anytime+ is available at no extra cost to your existing Sky TV subscription. To access Sky Anytime+, you’ll need a Sky+HD box and a Sky Broadband subscription in a Sky network area. Then, simply connect your box and router together by choosing the connectivity option that best suits you (set-up fees may apply). For the latest news, register here.

    David: Thanks Karl, As that statement reads, you do need sky broadband

    You: why as a customer can I not connect it wirelessly to my existing ISP, and not be forced into having broadband with you??

    David: I understand Karl, as it’s an exclusive sky product, we are only comfortable in providing it through our own broadband service at the moment

    David: Whether this will change is time is undecided

    You: so in that case, i would assume as I would not get full functionallity – and penalised for not being a Sky BB user, I would get a discount on the HD subsription.

    David: No, we ask customers to subcribe to sky broadband if they want anytime+, we cannot be held responsible if the customer doesn’t want to do this.

    You: is this not unfair trading & monopolising of the market!!

    David: I can see your viewpoint, but what if we advertised the anytime+ product, if the customer is with a 3rd party broadband company and they have technical problems with anytime+, we couldn’t cure it.

    David: If the broadband is with sky, we have full control of the problem so there will be nothing left unresolved.

    David: I believe this is our stance at the moment

    You: technical problems with anytime+ will never be able to be rectified by an ISP, it is purely delivering the connectivity to the anytime+ service – it is the same as you provide me with my phone bill, but the line is with BT!!

    David: I can appreciate you’re upset. I can only voice the companies viewpoint, sorry

    You: as for the box, I would’ve wanted a sky+HD box – but what are the advantages to me getting this service early!? I wouldnt want to go from fibre optic High Speed Broadband to phone line / exchange service limited broadband, which would in fact be better for the ammount of media on the anytime+ service!!

    David: I see, would you like the phone number for sales? I admit it would take longer than sunday to do, with today being thursday, we tend to need a weeks notice

    You: no thankyou, I am disapointed that to take full functionality of a service I would be paying £61 p/m I would be rail roaded into taking an additional Sky Broadband & a Sky/BT Landline.

    David: Thank you for chatting with me today. We really value your feedback. Please click the button marked “End Chat” at the top right of this chat window to answer a few questions about your experience with us today. Have a really good day

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