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Sky UK follows German multiscreen strategy, way ahead of the crowd

News Corp’s BSkyB in the UK has expanded its multiscreen strategy and put it in line with the Sky Go service it launched out of Sky Deutschland a mont

By PETER WHITE

Published: 16 June, 2011

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News Corp’s BSkyB in the UK has expanded its multiscreen strategy and put it in line with the Sky Go service it launched out of Sky Deutschland a month ago. The new launch is a successor to both the iPlayer OTT initiative and the Sky Mobile video services, both of which have been in operation for the past 5 or 6 years in one form or another.

It was just back in May that Sky Deutschland first showed off its launch of its Sky Go service, which it said would form a core part of its TV vision in the years to come. Sky Go allows Sky programming to be viewed in a second room, on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, or over the internet on a PC or laptop.

Interestingly it was six years ago that BSkyB in the UK first experimented with what most cable companies call TV Everywhere, the strategy of letting its existing users have a password to view content on multiple devices, mostly in the home, although it allowed customers to view on their travels also. Back then it called it simply Sky online and it slowly coalesced into Sky Player. Initially it was only for the benefit of its multi-room customers, but today it came out with a much broader strategy.

Effectively it has taken the PC targeted service and its mobile TV cellular streaming service and merged them into one – targeting phones and tablets – and says that from July 6th all ten million of its customers can watch Sky TV channels and programs on PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablets at no extra charge. Each Sky home will be entitled to register up to two devices, and view live linear channels and some of the sky on-demand content.

But this is more than a churn halting exercise, and Sky plans shortly (August) to launch it as a full Over The Top service to non-Sky customers August to non-Sky TV customers, with subscriptions priced from £15 to £40 a month. Sky will also remain available on Xbox and Fetch TV, but will rebrand simply as Sky from the current Sky Player.

On mobile and tablet devices, customers will be able to access all five Sky Sports channels, ESPN and Sky News, with further channels to be added over time.

On laptops and computers customers will be able to access more than 30 live channels, including all five Sky Sports channels, Sky Movies, Sky News, Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, MTV, Disney, GOLD, Nickelodeon, NatGeo, History, Eden and ESPN plus on-demand content. Unlike the US TV Everywhere strategies in the US of Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, which were restricted to the homes which get this service, there is unlikely to be an outcry from supplying channels, because it is likely that Sky has had negotiated rights to this service for some time.

The plan is for Sky Go to eventually travel over the UK’s Cloud WiFi network, which was acquired in January which has over 4,500 public hotspot locations many of them in sports pubs where Sky sports is often licensed on large screens. It looks like customers will be able to keep watching on their tablets while they are at the bar and out of view of the big screen. Further details on the roll out of the network, including timings, will be announced in due course, and it looks like Sky plans something original, with perhaps dedicated viewing apps for phones and tablets.

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