For a long time it seemed that Netflix and Sky would be mortal enemies, forever battling for the hearts and minds of TV viewers across the UK. But, in what’s been a much-requested feature of the Sky TV package for many years now, Netflix will soon be part of the Sky TV experience.
From November (a specific date is yet to be announced), you’ll be able to access the entire Netflix streaming catalogue through your Sky Q box. While you’ll be able to hook up your existing Netflix account to your Sky Q box, Sky is hoping that you’ll jump in with its new, all-inclusive Ultimate On Demand package, which bags you some exclusive perks.
The Ultimate On Demand package pulls together Netflix and all of Sky’s on-demand content in one bolt-on for just £10 a month.
That’s a significant saving over getting the two separately, and comes with the convenience of consolidating your bills into a single one handled by Sky. In addition, that’s a particularly attractive saving if you’re paying for Netflix’s premium 4K tier at the moment – so long as you’re already paying for the UHD options in your Sky Q account, that £10 a month will bag you all the features of a 4K Netflix service too.
That is, barring one significant point – while HDR will remain available through Netflix on other platforms when purchased with the Ultimate On Demand package, you won’t be able to watch the streaming giant’s High Dynamic Range content through the Sky box.
As with Sky’s own HDR ambitions, Sky is still working on how best to bring this to the Sky Q ecosystem, and that’s inclusive of the newly-integrated Netflix service.
Another perk of getting your Netflix bill rolled in with your Sky one will be in the way that Netflix content will be seamlessly integrated with your Sky box’s user interface.
In your Sky interface’s recommended viewing panes, and continue viewing areas, you’ll see them begin to be populated with titles from your Netflix library, letting you jump right in without having to first open the dedicated Netflix app from the menu system. It’s very slickly done, with the two services sitting side-by-side very naturally.
If you’re worried about your data being shared between the companies in order to populate these recommended viewing areas, don’t be.
The two services remain isolated from each other, which also prevents the multiple Netflix profiles that you may share among your family from influencing your Sky viewing recommendations – a plus if you let your loved ones run riot with your Netflix account.
The only thing that happens behind the scenes between Sky and Netflix then is a handshake that lets Netflix know that a Sky customer now wants to jump onto the Ultimate On Demand package, at which point the Sky UI bells and whistles are turned on.
You shouldn’t notice any drop in service at any point. And, should you of course want to jump into the standard Netflix app interface at any time, that’s available in the Apps section of the Sky menu too.
While voice search isn’t yet working across Netflix titles, plenty of considerations have been made to make finding the Netflix content you want as easy as possible.
As well as the home screen recommendation tiles, there’s a new On Demand pane that pulls together all ready-to-stream content (whether Sky’s or Netflix’s) all in one place, while the text-search tool now has a dedicated option for scanning the Netflix catalogue as well.
Still to come...
A few more quality-of-life features will be added to Sky before the end of this year and on into next.
Firstly, Spotify (already available as a Sky Q app) will join Netflix in being offered up as part of an integrated billing system on your Sky bill each month.
New and existing Sky Q Experience customers are eligible for a six month free Spotify Premium subscription whilst new and existing Sky Q only or Sky+ customers are eligible for a three-month free Spotify Premium subscription - so long as you're new to Spotify Premium.
If you already subscribe to Spotify, you won't get any free months.
Secondly, in the new year a dedicated Kids Mode viewing option will be added. This will fence off appropriate children’s content so you can leave your little ones unattended safe in the knowledge they won’t stumble across something they shouldn’t. It’ll also pair up with the same Kids profiles established in Sky’s mobile app, syncing up any personalised options across the ecosystem.
You’ll also see a number of UI tweaks rolling out, including the ability to open apps in Sky Q via a voice command, sort recommendations and recordings by type, and see a more refined recommendations system provide viewers with more personal choices.
Approaching the three year point in its lifespan, Sky Q continues to go from strength to strength then. While the long wait for HDR frustrates, it’s great to see Sky’s premium package continue to shine.
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Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.