Last year Sky announced that it would be making its full platform available without a dish and now we’re finally hearing more details about it. While there has been no UK launch date confirmed, Sky specified a 2018 launch date in its original announcement last year.
The inability to have a satellite dish has been a barrier for many. Millions of UK homes are unable to have dishes due to being listed buildings or through other restrictions – including rented properties where landlords aren’t prepared to have dishes installed.
Sky has detailed how it will progress with dish-free Sky; it will launch Sky Q without a dish in Austria to begin with and also offer Sky channels over fibre broadband in Italy over the next few months.
That last point is a clue; you’ll surely need to have fibre broadband in order to get Sky without a dish, and we know that will be a definite for 4K content. You’ll also need a different box without the satellite connection, although otherwise we wouldn't expect the hardware to be that different.
“We will launch Sky without a satellite dish, with all its channels and on demand content streamed over IP,” said Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive this morning.
Crucially for us, Darroch added: “We’ll launch first in Italy before taking it to Austria and ultimately deploying across all our key markets.” That means the UK, folks.
The move to dish-free would have advantages for Sky in terms of not needing to install dishes (or subsidise the installation), though it may be bad news for some specialist installers who focus on installing Sky dishes in difficult locations.
Sky Q works partly using a broadband connection anyway, with boxes requiring to be online to stream catch-up and on demand content as well as populate the content and metadata rich menu systems. It makes sense that an IP version of the box will also stream live channels too.
Sky TV also owns Now TV, the pick and mix streaming version of Sky that lets you choose from a range of programming packages (known as "passes") without a contract.
Sky also announced this morning that it now has over two million Sky Q subscribers in the UK. Sky has also inked a new deal with Warner Bros. that will see new movies debut on Sky Cinema "sooner than ever before".