Sky yesterday announced their anticipated Video on Demand service, Sky Anytime+, which will allow users to access an archive of TV content over a broadband connection through their Sky+ HD boxes. It is expected to launch later this year and offer around 1,000 hours of content from channels including Sky1, Sky Sports, Sky Movies and Sky Arts, and also includes other broadcasters such as ESPN and National Geographic. Movies are to be a key focus of the service with around 500 expected to be available at launch.
Only standard definition content will be available initially to ensure a high user experience which could be let down by slow broadband speeds. High Definition content could be offered in the future. A movie is expected to be around 1.3GB's in size which would take around a minute to start playing on a 2Meg or faster broadband connection but longer if you have a slower speed. Downloads can also be paused to allow the user to use the broadband connection for doing other things. The service will only be available to customers who have a Sky broadband connection initially which may limit the number of users that can use the service. The reasoning behind this is it gives Sky greater ability to tailor their network to the service and diagnose problems if these occur. It's not clear whether content downloaded via Anytime+ would count towards a users broadband usage allowance (although it would when rolled out to other broadband providers).
"We have optimised our network so that this service is the best it can be, but another ISP might shape the traffic at primetime, which could mean that content takes longer to stream.
We just want to be able to manage the service before we widen it to other networks. Within our own broadband network, we are more than confident that we can deliver without crashes and so on. We have planned against any major bottle necks on the launch day and we have learnt from past rollouts, so we are very confident that we won't have any major problems."David Kelly (Senior product development manager) Sky
By not deploying HD content, Sky may also be limiting their userbase further as some will prefer to stick to watching high-definition content over standard-definition, but it could also attract people away from other providers