Waiting for Sky to Set TV Free


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In around 24 hours from now we’ll have the answer to Sky’s teaser campaign in which its promised to “Set TV Free“.

Sky is known to have a number of projects under development – it no doubt has several more that aren’t known about – but tomorrow’s announcement is most likely to revolve around 4K TV or online, maybe both.

Project Ethan has now been in the pipeline for two years and was conceived as a successor to the current hardware generation, which despite Sky’s constant innovation, is beginning to tire. Among the anticpated functionality within the Project Ethan product is the ability to store content within a central data centre – the cloud – and be made available across any device. This in turn would lead to Follow Me functionality – the ability to stop watching a show on one device and pick it up on another.

The name of the new box is likely to be SkyQ, moving its action heroes from the Mission Impossible franchise through to that of James Bond’s quartermaster.

David Mercer, Strategy Analytics’ Principal Analyst – Digital Consumer Practice, said the new box reflected current enthusiasm for on demand content: “Sky customers watch 20% of programmes on connected devices and SkyQ is squarely targeted at the most demanding of this on-demand generation. And it needs to be; premium customers are the best bet for increasing revenue, as many people are looking to reduce TV bills – indeed ARPUs across the industry are fairly stagnant. SkyQ, alongside Now TV’s “buffet” model, means Sky now covers consumers at opposite ends of this spectrum.

However, the price of innovation seems certain to be passed onto the UK consumer as CEO Jeremy Darroch hinted at Morgan Stanley’s annual industry conference in Barcelona last week.

“I think the opportunity for pricing is good and it is certainly our intention in the UK to do that,” he said, adding that any price increase would go hand in hand with innovation, improved service, and improved content.