You could soon ditch the Sky Q box under your telly. That’s if an exciting new rumour that claims Sky is building its own Smart TV with the same features, channels and streaming apps found on the Sky Q box built-in proves to be accurate.
Sources speaking to the Financial Times claim the new Smart TVs will allow Sky to compete with streaming gadgets from the likes of Amazon, Roku and Google. All three of these companies sell popular dongles that plug directly into the HDMI port to bring voice search, video on-demand apps, and more smart features. Amazon, Roku and Google have also partnered with manufacturers to offer Smart TVs with the same functionality baked directly into the hardware. Amazon is also purportedly looking to build its own televisions.
Sky owns and operates its contract-free NOW brand, formerly NOW TV, in the UK. NOW is available on a number of streaming devices designed by Amazon and Roku. The latter also builds the streaming set-top boxes that ship with NOW branding.
However, Sky has never sought to provide the operating system that powers your Smart TV out-of-the-box. According to another report from US publication Protocol, Comcast – which owns Sky – is planning a similar move in the United States in order to maintain a direct relationship with customers, rather than working via intermediaries, like Amazon, Apple, and other US technology giants that design and build the latest generation of streaming boxes and supply the software for television manufacturers.
It would allow Sky to become master of its own destiny… and not simply for those who subscribe to its satellite television packages. Those who choose to stop subscribing, but who own a Sky-branded TV would still be subject to the editorial decisions made by the broadcaster, including where to place adverts for the latest blockbusters coming to Sky Cinema or discounts to Sky Sports, for example.
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Protocol claims the Smart TVs from parent company Comcast in the United States will aggregate “your favourite apps, live channels, and On Demand movies and shows together in one place.”
Creating the Smart TV platform would also allow Comcast and Sky to negotiate directly with streaming partners, the Financial Times reports. Netflix is known to pay telly and set-top box manufacturers large sums to dedicate a button on the remote to its streaming service.
While Sky Q already has deep integrations with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ on its set-top box, the remote doesn’t have any shortcuts on its remote for these streaming services. But that could change with the arrival of a Smart TV from Sky, the sources claim.
When asked about the latest rumours, a spokesperson for Sky told the Financial Times that it is always exploring new technologies, but declined to comment on these specific product rumours. The whispers of a Sky-designed Smart TV arrive a few weeks after another major rumour around the satellite broadcaster.
The company is purportedly testing a new Sky Q set-top box that runs over a broadband connection rather than a satellite. The plans, first announced back in 2017, would allow millions across Europe who can’t install a satellite dish to the side of their home to stream live channels, pause and rewind broadcast channels, watch on-demand boxsets in Ultra HD picture quality. It’s possible this internet-connected service is what would enable Sky to launch its own Smart TV. After all, a 4K TV that needs to be connected to a satellite dish is not going to be quite as flexible compared to models with Amazon’s Fire TV or Roku software under the bonnet.
Sky will hold a hotly-anticipated launch event on October 7. In its invite, it has teased that “something magical is coming”. Whether that’s the arrival of a new dish-less Sky Q box, or a shiny new Smart TV – or both, only time will tell.
Express.co.uk will be in the audience at the launch event, bringing you all of the latest news and opinion on the latest announcement from Sky, so stay tuned.