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Sunday, October 24, 2021

End of the satellite dish? Sky to launch its own smart TV

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Sky is to launch its own range of smart TVs, removing the need for customers to use a satellite dish or set-top box, as the pay-TV company shifts its offering to remain competitive in the streaming era.

The broadband-powered TV set, called Sky Glass, will be launched in the UK on 18 October and in Sky’s other European markets next year. The new service will aggregate content from streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+, as well as Sky channels and content from other broadcasters.

Dana Strong, the group chief executive at Sky, said: “The streaming revolution and the explosion of content has brought a whole new set of challenges.

“Sky Glass is the streaming TV with Sky inside. Most people use multiple apps to find the content they want. But the apps are not connected, and the experiences are fragmented. So we spend more time searching for content than enjoying it.”

The TV aims to simplify the largest screen in the house by doing away with the need for multiple boxes, separate speakers and a mess of cables, while modernising it with smartphone-like features.

It detects your presence to wake when you walk in the room and responds to voice commands with “Hello, Sky”. It will learn from your family’s watching habits and show you the right content at the right time to reduce the number of clicks you have to make, even if it is within apps such as Netflix or from another device such as an Xbox. Software updates will give it new features, while a Zoom-capable video chat camera add-on coming in spring 2022.

It boasts an integrated Dolby Atmos surround sound system with six speakers, and promises to automatically adapt to the content being broadcast and ambient light in the room to offer the optimum speech and picture quality. The remote has also been simplified.

Sky said Glass would cut electricity consumption by about 50% by doing away with multiple boxes, while it claims its recyclable, plastic-free packaging and off-setting make it be the first carbon-neutral TV.

The launch of the TV service signals Sky’s attempt to get ahead of the “cord-cutting” phenomenon in which tens of millions of US customers ditched their traditional pay-TV bundles of channels in favour of cheaper offerings from streaming services such as Netflix.

Sky, which was acquired by the US pay-TV giant Comcast three years ago for £30bn, said the new service would be competitively priced, with consumers able to pay for the TV as part of a monthly subscription.

“You can now buy your TV just like you buy your mobile phone, with a range of flexible monthly payment options,” she said.

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Monthly subscription packages will start at £13 for the TV with the cheapest device and TV content package priced at £39 a month.

When the company launched its premium Sky Q box in 2017, it said it was working on an offering to make its full TV service available via a broadband connection, which would enable it to target 6m homes across Europe who do not have a satellite dish.

In the UK, Sky offers the Now TV streaming platform, which allows consumers to buy monthly passes for access to entertainment and sports content, but it does not provide access to all Sky’s services.

The cost of TV and streaming services

Netflix: From £5.99 a month to £13.99 (excluding broadband)

Amazon Prime Video: £79 annually, £6.58 a month

Disney+: £7.99 a month

ITV’s Britbox: £5.99 a month

Discovery+: £4.99 a month

Sky’s Now TV: From £9.99 a month to £33.99 depending on package

BT TV: From £12 to £40 a month

Virgin Media TV: From £5 to £41 a month

Source: Ampere Analysis

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