Sky Stream brings the best of Sky Glass to any TV – and it looks great

Sky Stream on wooden TV cabinet
(Image credit: Sky)

It’s been a whole year since Sky launched its long-awaited, satellite-free TV offering, Sky Glass, in the UK – and now the company is bringing the streaming-based benefits of Glass to those who’d rather not shell out for a whole new TV.

Sky Stream, which was first announced back in April, is essentially Sky Glass condensed into a drinks coaster-sized streaming puck. By plugging one of these devices into your current home display via HDMI, you’ll get access to all the channels, shows and apps currently offered by Sky – including Sky Atlantic and Netflix – through Wi-Fi alone, eliminating the need for an external dish. 

You’ll be able to stream content in up to 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos audio (should your existing TV be capable of doing so), and because Sky Stream uses the same software as Sky Glass, you’ll get access to the latter’s playlist and recommendation features, as well as its voice control functionality (save for Glass’ remote-less voice control option).

Sky Stream launches on October 18, 2022 for a minimum £26 per month. At that price, you’ll get Sky Ultimate TV, Netflix Basic and a discounted setup fee (£20), but you’ll be tied into an 18-month contract. If you’d rather go for a 30-day rolling contract, Sky Stream will cost you £29 per month for the same services, but you’ll have to spend £39.95 on setup. 

Sky Stream puck and controller on wooden table

(Image credit: Sky)

Naturally, add-ons like Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, BT Sport and non-Netflix streaming services will knock that monthly price up even more, and you’ll have to spend an extra £12 per month to get up to five additional Sky Stream pucks (for five additional TVs) in your home. 

So, yes – Sky Stream is expensive. For a well-rounded streaming package – let’s say Sky Atlantic, Netflix, Disney Plus and Sky Sports – you’re still looking at paying the big bucks versus other entertainment aggregators like Virgin Media (whose own comparable Stream device lets you mix and match subscriptions every 30 days).

But the key point here is that, with Sky Stream, you’re getting almost all the benefits of Sky Glass – 4K UHD streaming, Dolby Atmos audio and Sky’s impressive “walled garden” user experience (as per our Sky Glass review) – for less than the cost of Sky Glass proper. 

Apple TV Plus on Sky Glass

Sky's satellite-free TV launched in October 2021 (Image credit: Sky)

Sky Stream is, according to Sky, the most affordable way to get Sky entertainment, and it works for anyone, with any TV over any broadband with a minimum speed of 10Mbps. Sure, that’s “affordable” by Sky’s own definition – but the fact of its lower price compared to other Sky products remains.

And make no mistake, Sky Stream is Sky at its very best. At the device’s launch event, the company debuted some of the ease-of-use upgrades coming to Sky Glass (and by extension, Sky Stream) in the coming months – and it’s hard to find fault with the new hardware beyond its lofty price tag. 

Updates aplenty

The biggest improvements are coming to Glass’ Playlist function. Given Sky’s focus on the shared viewing experience, the brand has remained reluctant to implement dedicated user profiles of the sort seen on streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus. But soon, Glass customers will be able to create multiple, profile-like Playlists for different users – hitting the '+' button on the Sky remote will bring up a list of curated Playlists to choose from. 

This might sound like a trivial improvement, but in practice, having the option to create multiple Playlists keeps the Sky Glass/Stream interface more focused on what you, personally, want to watch in a household of multiple viewers (read: family households). Crucially, though, you won’t be required to identify yourself when watching live TV.

Sky's Global Chief Product Officer, Fraser Stirling, debuts the updates coming to Sky Glass and Sky Stream at Sky's UK headquarters in Osterley

Sky's Global Chief Product Officer, Fraser Stirling, debuts the updates coming to Sky Glass and Sky Stream at Sky's UK headquarters in Osterley (Image credit: Future)

The way Playlists appear is changing, too. For starters, they’re being moved to the front of the icon list – ahead of movies, TV shows and buttons that take you to dedicated streaming service libraries. Most recent episodes are also being moved to the front of series-specific pages – no more trawling through 30 episodes of Gogglebox – and the ‘Because you watched’ slide is being replaced by a ‘Continue watching’ slide. 

On a more exciting note, those who already own Sky Glass proper are in line for a sizable picture quality upgrade. Sky is preparing to roll out a firmware update that will re-jig backlight dimming on its TV, improving black levels and contrast ratio, as well as adding better black bar detection during movies. We were privy to a side-by-side demo of Sky Glass in its current state versus what’s coming in the near future, and these picture quality improvements are more than noticeable.

Sky says updates to voice commands, Playlists and picture quality (on Sky Glass) are rolling out in stages between October 17 and Christmas 2022.

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Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.