While clearly already a very big fish in the big pond of television broadcasting, Sky has decided it wants to blow rivals right out of the water.
Aiming to get its foot in the door at the start of the Smart TV revolution, and to compete with rivals such as Netflix and LoveFilm, along with non-subscription services, Sky has announced the Now TV box.
While newly launched Smart TV sets, which allow you to access on-demand services as well as social networking apps such as Facebook and Spotify, can cost thousands of pounds, Sky’s new cut-price gizmo will set you back just £9.99.
Sky’s Now TV box effectively turns any television into a Smart TV, so there’s no need to change your TV set. You simply connect it to your set using an HDMI cable and then it works through your wireless home network.
It means consumers will be able to catch up on TV programmes they may have missed through the likes of iPlayer along with watching content from Sky Sports and Sky Movies. There are many popular channels missing though, including ITV Player and 4oD, so it really depends on which programmes are important to users as to whether they wish to buy Sky’s new device.
It will, however, allow users to browse the web, but they will still have to pay to access certain premium Sky channels, with Sky Movies costing £8.99 a month as an introductory three-month deal before switching to £15. A Sky Sports Day Pass costs £9.99 for 24 hours so is best saved for that all important football match or boxing bout.
Sky is aiming to answer competition from the YouView box, which costs £299 but offers on-demand TV without any subscription. That is a joint venture between BT, TalkTalk, the BBC, ITV and Channels 4 and 5. Google is also offering a streaming service with Chromecast, a $35 dongle which streams content from your computer, iOS or Android device to your TV.
And with Apple giving strong hints that it is gearing up to offer its own television service or gizmo, the Smart TV market is getting very crowded.
Sky is expecting consumers to be tempted by the Now TV box price and ease of use. A spokesman says it takes just a matter of minutes to get the service up and running. “Plug the box into your TV set via the HDMI cable provided, connect to your wireless internet connection and you’re away, he said.
Analysts believe Sky will appeal to those who don’t want to commit to a long-term contract, attractive in these times of job uncertainty. Dominic Baliszewski from broadbandchoices.co.uk said: “Sky’s newly launched Now TV box is far cheaper than other alternatives in the market, at just a one-off £9.99 payment and offers access to premium sports and movies content without the burden of a long-term contract.”
But he warned families who have a limited download allowance through their broadband deals should be careful because content viewed through the Now TV box will count towards monthly data usage.
For those who want to dip in and out of content, remaining in control of what they watch and how much they spend, the new Sky box could be the ideal option.