This week Sky released their latest service aimed at revolutionising TV to great fanfare and response from the media; Sky Q. What is new about this system that Sky is so excited about?
The changes are both inside and out. In terms of hardware, there is a new touchscreen remote that is designed to make finding programs easier, a key concern for consumers found by the Sky new products team. There is a new set top box too, with 2TB of storage to allow 350 hours of HD TV to be stored, and more interestingly, the capacity to record up to four programs whilst watching a fifth, removing yet another issue of consumers not being able to record two programs and watch another on the current Sky+ box.
But the biggest change that Sky believe could be most attractive to consumers is the new 'fluid viewing' functionality, which allows for the ability to watch recorded material or live TV on any of up to five screens, regardless of where it was initially recorded. This moves beyond the multi-room system, and Sky are claiming it will create the ultimate TV viewing experience.
Many in the industry have related the potential of Sky Q to the way Sky+ revolutionised the industry. The Sky+ box quickly became the best recording system due to its simplicity and ease of use, and led to a huge increase in subscriptions to Sky as a direct result of this extra functionality. Sky has always been at the forefront of TV innovation, and Sky Q is simply another milestone in this development.
Is this new set top box set to change TV again? The fluid viewing between recorded and live programs is not something new to TV, with the likes of TiVo and YouView proving hugely successful in this area. But it is the quality of Sky's product that may prove definitive in its success. This premium product is something that is meant to be a no expense spared TV experience, and therefore is attempting to target different customers to these more mass market products.
One potential sticking point identified by Sky themselves will be the subsequent increase in rates. One analyst has predicted that monthly subscription fees under Sky Q will top £100, and there are worries this will drive consumers away. However, Sky's history has shown little evidence of this effect. Their premium model has meant that their demand is very inelastic, and consumers are not response to price, particularly for the best TV experience available in the market. Sky's latest innovation is aimed to ensure they maintain this position.
Comparisons can be drawn to Apple for the way in which Sky operates at the premium end of the market, making the best quality products through having the courage to innovate. Like Apple, their ability to see the direction of the market and deliver the product to meet consumer needs is unparalleled in the TV industry. Therefore, it seems likely that Sky Q will set a new standard for the TV experience.