Sky has announced it will soon let customers buy HD movies to download and keep via their Sky box as it continues to try and capitalise on the 4.4 million connected Sky customers in the UK with set top boxes in their homes.
While Amazon, Netflix, and others still look to penetrate the living room with devices capable of accessing their services, Sky is turning up the pressure with the launch of a new service in the coming weeks that will not only allow people the chance to buy the latest Hollywood blockbusters but also receive a physical DVD through the post within 5 days of their purchase, all included in the price.
Outlining the new service at an event in London ahead of the official announcement, Sky has told Pocket-lint its own user data shows that customers not only like watching movies but buying them as well, with the data revealing that Sky customers represent around 50 per cent of DVD buying public.
In a move that will puzzle some, especially those who are gunning to remove the need for all physical or downloaded content, users will be able to access the new Buy & Keep service via the Sky Store and then have purchases added to their bill, in the same way customers already do with rentals from the company, before a DVD (not Blu-ray) is dispatched in the post for playback elsewhere.
The new service, which is expected to launch toward the end of April, will feature around 200 titles to start from 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Universal, giving Sky a chance to promote films that it has access to (or merely films a lot earlier than it currently does).
"Millions of people still buying physical," explained Nicola Bamford, director of Sky Store, at the event. "The world is moving to digital, but it's not there yet."
Sky has said that library titles will cost £7.99, while new releases will cost £13.99. It already confirmed that films including Turbo, Wolf of Wall Street, and the new Hobbit film will come to the service and said it plans to add more studios and TV box sets over time.
Once people have selected the movie they want to buy, it is saved straight to their Sky+HD box and is available to watch in minutes via the standard Planner interface.
As soon as it is saved on the box, the movie is theirs to enjoy again and again, regardless of whether they move house or change Sky boxes in the future.
If you are running short of space, purchases can be archived, allowing you to delete the movie off your hard drive and then download it again at a later date when you want to watch it again.
However, Sky has confirmed to Pocket-lint that the films can only be accessed on the box they have been bought on. Therefore, for the time being, you can't buy it on one box in your house and then play it on another, even with multi-room, for example.
That might change in the future however, with Sky stating that forthcoming plans for the service include the ability for customers to access movies they've bought via tablets and smartphones.
The company also said there won't be an option to have a physical Blu-ray sent to you instead, as it is currently trying to keep the purchase pipeline as clean as possible. It might also have something to do with the lack of support for Blu-ray still in the UK. In another move to streamline the process as much as possible, users won't be able to buy the digital version in SD.
The Buy & Keep service will go live with the new EPG rollout expected soon, and it will also come to Skystore.com, the company's little known service that lets you rent movies regardless of whether you have a Sky subscription.