Sky announced a slew of new features for its flagship satellite box this week
It has been a blockbuster week for Sky.
The UK broadcaster has announced a slew of changes coming to its flagship Sky Q system, including a redesigned main menu, new apps coming to the set-top box, and a partnership with Netflix.
Starting this month, Sky will start pushing-out its all-new menu design to Sky Q customers.
The new menu design is focused on personalisation, including shortcuts to viewers’ Most Recent Recordings and Favourite Channels from the homepage for the first time.
Sky has also added curated Box Sets, Movies, and Catch-Up TV, which are based on users’ viewing history.
Since its inception, Sky Q has focused on personalised, algorithmic recommendations.
In fact, the earliest iteration of the Sky Q homepage made the traditional EPG (Electronic Program Guide) shortcut one of the most inaccessible items, hidden at the bottom of the list.
Although it has become quicker to navigate to the EPG in the main menu in subsequent updates, Sky clearly still wants to make personalisation one of the headline features of its Q system.
Aside from new curated recommendations, the latest redesign also reshuffles the live preview video pane above the menu.
This is a much better allocation of screen real estate, and allows Sky to include more items in each sub-menu.
Once you’ve seen the new widescreen user interface, it’s honestly hard to believe Sky kept the original layout for so long.
Personalisation is also coming to voice search, with Sky Q viewers able to ask for personalised recommendations such as “show movies for me”, “show box sets for me”.
These are based on your viewing habits on each box, so a Sky Q Mini set-top box in your bedroom will have difficult results compared to one in the main family room, for example.
Sky Q will also now support app specific requests via its voice functionality – e.g. “what is the weather today?”
Elsewhere, the satellite firm has confirmed the Ultra HD content available to Sky Q customers will double this year, increasing to over 1,000 hours of UHD content on Sky Q, including the whole Spider-Man franchise.
Sky Q viewers can expect to see a swathe of new features coming to their satellite box
Sky also this week confirmed plans to launch HDR on its flagship set-top box.
Support for HDR will ensure viewers with compatible 4K UHD televisions will get the best definition and clarity currently available.
And as if all this wasn’t enough, the UK broadcaster also revealed plans to bring a Sky Q app to smart TVs and third-party devices, which will enable more people to tune-in to the Sky experience.
To accommodate the array of new apps available for customers to stream Sky content, the satellite firm has confirmed it will increase the maximum number of devices that viewers can stream on simultaneously.
Unfortunately, the broadcaster hasn’t revealed what the new limit will be, but as it stands, Sky allows customers to register up to four devices, and download recordings to any of them.
If you’ve registered four devices, Sky lets you make one change a month to your list of registered devices.
Sky Q customers will soon be able to listen to their favourite Spotify playlists, thanks to a dedicated version of the music streaming service coming to the satellite box.
Customers will be able to use the ad-supported Spotify service for free, or log-in within the Sky Q app to access their premium account.
Sky Q also supports AirPlay for those who want to beam music from rival streaming services, including Apple Music, to their TV and linked sound system.
Sky Q will now include music streaming service Spotify in its the flagship satellite box
Following the announcement of the Spotify app on Sky Q, VP of Business Development for Spotify, Jorge Espinel said: “Spotify and Sky share a focus on innovation, disruption and delivering an excellent experience to our customers.
The partnership between Spotify and Sky will offer consumers the chance to enjoy great entertainment from two leading media brands
“We’re delighted that consumers in the UK and Ireland will soon have another means to listen to all the music and podcasts they love on Spotify via Sky Q.
“The partnership between Spotify and Sky will offer consumers the chance to enjoy great entertainment from two leading media brands, and we are excited for what the future of the partnership may bring.”
Speaking of partnerships, Sky has announced a new deal with Netflix to bring content from the hugely-successful video on-demand service.
The Californian streaming company confirmed the partnership late last week, which will see Netflix’s catalogue of content, including its original series and movies, included in a brand-new Sky TV subscription pack.
The partnership deal will see millions of Sky Q customers able to access Netflix via their satellite set-top box.
Those who haven’t already got a Netflix subscription can add the new television bundle onto their existing monthly Sky TV bill.
Subscribers will see Sky and Netflix content side-by-side for the first time in the redesigned Sky Q menu.
Original Sky productions, such as Britannia and Billions, will be available alongside Sky Atlantic content, including Big Little Lies, WestWord, and Game Of Thrones, and Netflix originals, The Crown, Stranger Things and Black Mirror, all on the Sky Q platform for the first time.
Those who already subscribe to Netflix each month can either migrate their account over to the new Sky TV bundle, or sign-in using their existing account details to bring Netflix content to their Sky Q box.
Netflix integration – as well as the all-new Sky TV bundle with Netflix shows and movies – is set to launch on Sky Q in the UK and Ireland later this year.
Sky Q’s voice search now supports requests for personalised, curated content
Netflix will launch on Sky Q platforms in Germany, Austria and Italy thereafter.
Sky will confirm pricing for the new television bundle ahead of the release date later this year.
Following the announcement of the new features headed to Sky Q, CEO Stephen van Rooyen said: “The new features we have announced today represent a further step change for Sky Q and we are confident customers are going to love them.
“At the same time, by adding Spotify to the platform in the UK and Ireland, we are offering customers the very best in home entertainment all in one place.
“The arrival of the world’s biggest and most popular music streaming service is a great addition to the platform as it will allow TV buffs and music fans to switch between their favourite shows, online video apps and music in an instant.”