Sky Stream is available in the UK from tomorrow, 18 October. It brings full-fat Sky services to homes that can’t get a dish or who don’t want the commitment of having one and is, essentially, Sky Glass without the actual TV bit. All the shows stream over the internet and integrates with apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Apple TV+ and Disney+.
Offering a variety of contracts, it’s possible to get Sky Stream on a rolling 30 day deal, though it does cost more than if you sign up to a longer term deal. The cheapest offers you Sky’s entertainment package and Netflix for £26 per month. Of course, that doesn’t get you other premium stuff like Sky Sports so final bills are likely to be a lot more. It’s also multiroom capable, with the first extra puck free (then you need to pay a monthly fee on top).
It’s clear Sky Stream sees Sky Glass and Sky Stream as its future. Indeed, Fraser Stirling, chief product officer for Comcast and Sky told us when we visited Sky’s HQ in Osterley that the stream puck would be rolling out in other countries in future including in North America. “This is it, this is how we aggregate content in the home” he told us. “We’re really happy about that. We feel that’s our role: [everything] all in one place.”
The Sky Stream puck supports Wi-Fi 6 and Ethernet for connectivity and connects power of course as well as to your TV via HDMI. It’s Ultra HD-capable providing your TV supports it. As with Sky Glass, the Playlist feature is crucial (and has now been moved further to the top of the interface). Adding TV to your playlist stores them as recordings in the cloud ready for you to retrieve as and when.
Sky is calling the OS that runs on Stream and Sky Glass ‘Entertainment OS’ and there are several features that are new, such as personalized playlists for family members as well as the ability to rapidly resume shows on non-Sky services – as well as the previously supported BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, this now includes Amazon Prime Video, with other services set to roll out shortly. Sky has also changed what’s displayed when you search for a program (voice search is fully supported via the remote) and now the newest episodes are shown first. But if you visit a show page, the oldest will be shown first.
The interface updates will also be coming to Sky Glass, which will also get an update for improved picture quality over the next couple of months. Notably this will improve the contrast capabilities of the Sky branded TV.
Analyst Paulo Pescatore from PP Foresight gave us his take: “Sky Stream is a premium experience. At first glance the writing is on the wall for [Sky-owned] Now [TV] with the launch of SkyStream. Throughout the journey of new devices, platforms and services Sky has done a good job of not cannibalizing its revenue streams. Now clearly is targeting a different audience and is available without a set-top box.”
“However, in time Sky will need to consolidate its portfolio including Sky Q as the future is all about streaming. The prospect of getting a premium Sky experience without a satellite dish will appeal to many users and will make the service far more stickier for households.”