Author Topic: BSkyB launching 4K Silver service on August 13, with 70 movies 124 Live Premiere  (Read 720 times)

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...League Football matches.

Sky Q customers can watch 4K sport and movies from August
From August 13, Ultra HD content will be available on Sky Q Silver plans

By VICTORIA WOOLLASTON

One of the flagship features of Sky Q when it was first announced last year was the promise of Ultra HD channels. The company will soon deliver on this promise.

From August 13, any Sky Q customer with a Sky Q Silver plan will be able to watch 124 live Premier League games and the premiere of Spectre in UHD.

More than 70 movies, as well as natural history shows and documentaries, and TV series, including Channel 4's The Blacklist will be broadcast in this 4K format.

The changes will form part a free update to the existing Sky Q Silver packages.

“With Sky Q, we created the world’s best TV experience," said Luke Bradley-Jones, director of TV and content products. “Now with the introduction of an unrivalled line-up of Ultra HD TV, the service is going to get even better. So whether you’re a football fan, movie buff, natural history enthusiast or drama junkie, customers looking for the next-generation of TV viewing will love it.”

Sky Q was initially announced in November and began rolling out last month. It is a considerable upgrade to the firm’s set-top box offering and took three years to develop.

The flagship of the range is the 2TB Sky Q Silver box, which is offered alongside a standard 1TB Sky Q box, and a touch remote which has been simplified.

For wireless capability, both the Silver and standard boxes are dual band on 2.4GHz and 5GHz and also boast Bluetooth 4.0. The main differences between the two options are memory (2TB vs 1TB, though only 1.7TB and 700GB respectively are available to customers); recording ability (Silver can record four channels while you watch a fifth, while the standard Q box allows only three channels to record); and connectivity (Silver lets you stream content on two tablets plus allows simultaneous viewing on two Sky Q Mini boxes.

This is similar to the existing Sky Multiscreen boxes, while you can access content on just one tablet and Sky Q Mini on the standard version.

If you use the Sky Q Hub router, all the Sky Q boxes, be they full size or mini, will act as repeaters making sure your Wi-Fi coverage at home is as comprehensive as it can be with that setup.

You can also send audio to the boxes via Bluetooth and iTunes Airplay, and then set those boxes up as a multiroom audio system, similar in function to a Sonos system, letting you play music around the entire house, party style, should you wish.

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By Ken Kerschbaumer, Editorial Director

From August 13, UK owners of UHD sets will have another option for getting their fill of content as Sky will launch Sky Q Silver, a service that will not only offer movies, documentaries and drama but plenty of sport. Current plans call for 124 Premier League matches to be delivered during the 2016/2017 season and, in 2017, Formula 1 races F1 Productions embraces the UHD format.

The key to the service is a new set-top box, the Sky Q Silver box. Perhaps most importantly, viewers will not be required to pay for an additional UHD subscription.

“The UHD offering to the customer is not a dedicated channel,” says Keith Lane, Sky Sports, director of operations. “The reasoning is, if you remember when we launched 3D we had a dedicated 3D channel with a separate production. A separate production was really good to ensure we weren’t compromising on getting good 3D. But the negative was you sometimes didn’t have the editorial cameras where you wanted them and the analysis was sometimes less than your main HD.”

So the goal, says Lane, is to make sure that the UHD audience doesn’t have compromised camera angles and talent.

“We want to make sure it is a high-end customer offering; it should not be detrimental as a result of us doing UHD,” says Lane. “In Sky Q there’s a Sports homepage and there’s a UHD page which sits behind the normal channel. If for example you’re watching Sky Sports 1 there will be a pop-up that says ‘UHD coverage available’ and it takes you in there.”

The desire to avoid compromising the production also means it’s going to be a hybrid and unified HD/UHD production.

“There will be some 1080p 50 cameras that we need to upconvert, as the native 4K ones aren’t there,” says Lane. “Also, it’s going to be quite difficult to do all workflows in trucks in a native 4K format. The view is that you try to keep as much native as you can — then there’s a certain amount of conversion that has to happen. We’ve got that journey to go through over the next 18 months or so, to get to where we need to be.

The move by Sky also means that the UK market becomes the first to offer an actual choice of UHD services as BT launched its service in 2015.

“We did the very first UHD tests three years ago so we know the space pretty well,” says Lane. “What it really means to the industry is we can collectively start pushing manufacturers to re-invest in R&D to get the products we need. As more content is made, people are going to want that content in native format.”

NEP will be providing the UHD facilities via its Pacific, Aurora, Caspian and Sargaso OB units, four trucks that will be earmarked for Sky’s UHD coverage.

“It’s a commitment to them, and we’re still nailing down some of the technical specifications around that,” says Lane.  “We also recognize that in two year’s time we’ll probably be doing something slightly different. We’ve had some good conversations with NEP around where we’re going with technology.”