Sky to launch online TV for non-subscribers

31/01/2012

Broadcaster BSkyB is to launch an online television service to non-Sky customers to combat a sharp slowdown in growth of its customer base. The channel will launch the online TV service in the first half of 2012, giving users access to Sky movies and eventually Sky Sports, on flexible tariffs, without signing a contract. The new Sky internet TV service will stream content to computers, tablets, mobile phones, games consoles and smart TVs.

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Meanwhile, there’s also news on expansion to the Sky Go mobile app, including a version for Android.

Initially, the Sky IPTV system will offer films from Sky Movies; however, the company expects to expand that to encompass sport and entertainment content soon after launch.

Pricing has not been confirmed, though Sky says it will offer both packages – including, say, unlimited access to movies for a monthly fee, and with no minimum contract – and pay-per-view for those only wanting to watch specific content.

The system will include recommendations based on previous viewing habits, and be maintained alongside the existing Sky Go IPTV option for current Sky satellite users.

Those users will soon have access to a new Android app, set to launch in February. Initially available for Samsung’s Galaxy range and HTC devices, the Sky Go Android app will offer streaming access to on-demand movies and other content. Sky also plans to launch a WiFi hotspot roaming agreement for UK Sky Broadband Unlimited customers, offering access to around 10,000 hotspots.

The service is designed to help BSkyB face down increasing competition from much cheaper on-demand services, such as Netflix, which launched in the UK earlier this month, and Amazon’s, LoveFilm.

Sky, which offers programmes such as Boardwalk Empire, reported a 28% rise in first-half profits.

The broadcaster, which is 39% owned by News Corporation, added 40,000 net new customers in the three months to 31 December 2011, up from the 26,000 so-called “net adds” in the first quarter.

However, the figure was down sharply from the 140,000 net adds it reported in the same period the previous year and below analysts’ expectations of 58,000.

The new video-on-demand service was unveiled alongside results for the six months to December 31, which showed profits up 28% to £597m on revenues up 5.5% to £3.36bn.

Sky has also revealed plans to offer a fibre broadband option to home users from April. Priced at £20 per month, the package will offer speeds of up to 40 megabits and have no usage caps.

Sky also announced it would be adding BBC iPlayer and ITV Player content to its STBs.

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