Sky: new features coming to mobile first, EPG second

Sky keeps it simple but is testing new features
Sky keeps it simple but is testing new features

Brian Lenz, Director of Product Development at Sky, has spoken to TechRadar about the company's plans for its next-gen set-top boxes, explaining it is currently using its mobile services as a test-bed for innovations that may end up in its EPG.

Lenz wasn't specific about what features we may eventually see make their way to the EPG but he did note that mobile devices were to play a significant part in the Sky eco-system going forward.

"We see great opportunities with companion devices and alternate platforms like Xbox in serving up things like recommendations," said Lenz.

"Currently, the Sky+ app does a number of things when it comes to recommendations and eventually we will integrate the best features into the core experience.

"We take chances in the companion device space and these innovations may come to the TV through the EPG."

Sky high

While Lenz explained that an ideal future would be that Sky becomes seamless across platforms ("Our goal is to take Sky content to wherever the screens are") smartphones and tablets are treated as companion devices at the moment – and act as a way of de-cluttering what is going on with Sky's EPG.

"We believe a converged experience is for these tablets and smartphones," Lenz explained.

"It's not as much as about putting complex experiences on the TV but on these companion devices."

Not like a Virgin

Virgin, with its next-gen TiVo box, has packed many new features into its service – from web content to recommendations to the ability to scroll backwards through the EPG and watch old programmes through catch-up – and Lenz did admit that this puts the company "in a good place," but he is a little dubious about so much focus on features, believing Sky's simpler approach is still working.

"Innovation and product development just for the sake of it is useless," said Lenz.

"It is all fun, but you have to create the product and land it in the marketplace and make it a successful business.

"We have to make calls all of the time where something is a very good idea, but right now is not the moment to make it successful.

"If your messaging can't focus on that product, then this can cause problems in the market."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.