Sky to offer content to online subscribers

Online viewing for Sky programmes - without a satellite subscription
Online viewing for Sky programmes - without a satellite subscription

Sky is launching a service that will allow people to pay for and watch its premium content online – even if you do not subscribe to its satellite service.

The Sky Player is currently open to Sky subscribers and offers a limited free service, but BSkyB has indicated that this will be opened up to everyone who wants to subscribe "in the next few months".

"Until now, Sky Player has been a 'bonus' for existing Sky customers. This will continue, but in its new guise there will also be access on PC for a dedicated subscription service," BSkyB's Chief Operating Officer Mike Darcey told the MediaGuardian's Changing Broadcast Summit.

"We need to finalise decisions on price and finalise the channel proposition," he added.

Rising audience

Darcey told the London conference that he felt that for many people with fast broadband connections the technology was in place to enjoy the service – and that this group was steadily increasing.

"It may not be good enough for some, but for others it is," he added.

The success of the BBC iPlayer as well as services like Sky Player and's media player has provided a sea change for many broadcasters.

People's viewing habits are rapidly changing, with online viewing growing rapidly as the YouTube generation reaches maturity and laptops flourish.

Through its satellite service Sky's video on demand option is limited, but online poses no such limitations.

And there will be little surprise if Sky manages to use the ethernet port on its higher end Sky boxes to eventually bring TV over IP and VOD services to people's living room and their normal television screen.

Sky's motivation

Opening up an online service underlines the long hold mantra at Sky that 'content is king' a phrase coined by James Murdoch when he was CEO of the company.

Sky are keen to be seen as a multiplatform broadcaster rather than merely a satellite platform, and the recent agreement to get back onto Virgin media cable boxes is an indicator of this.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.