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ASA warns Sky over instant movie gratification
Wednesday 29 August 2012 17:18:09 by Andrew Ferguson

The Sky Anytime+ service has probably resulted in many households downloading an awful lot more data than they have done previously. Of course Sky is keen to promote the service which is a free addition for Sky TV customers and works with any broadband service and in some of their advertising they suggested that you could 'rent movies instantly'.

BT complained to the ASA on the grounds that the wording of the advert was exaggerating the speed with which consumers could use the service. Sky's response was that the vast majority of ADSL customers should be able to starting watching a movie within 1 minute of starting the download, i.e. the point at which the software decides it can play the film without any buffering.

The ASA upheld the complaint, as they took the stance that instant meant straight away, or with no noticeable delay. It was judged by the ASA that a delay of up to a minute for most customers was well outside the scope of 'no noticeable delay'.

Having used Sky Anytime+ ourselves we decided to run the service against some movies we had not watched before, and on a below average ADSL2+ connection, i.e. supports downloads of 6.3Mbps (connected at 7616Kbps), both an SD (854MB) and a HD film (2.5GB) were available to play 14 seconds after selecting. Even for slower connections the time before start is unlikely to be too much longer than a minute. A connection that can download at 2 Mbps, would take one hour to download a complete 90 minute standard definition movie, i.e. it will download faster than it can be played back, and after 1 minute of download time it will have 90 seconds of buffered film to cope with momentary speed glitches.

Comments

Posted by ash76 over 4 years ago
Do we know if the ASA did similar tests?
And if not, why not?
Posted by undecidedadrian over 4 years ago
Depends if they factored in peak time congestion at the exchange.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
What peak time congestion, surely Ofcom has proved that congestion is not as bad as some people suggest :-)

On ASA testing, no idea, but doubt it, hence I decided to do a bit of checking. As to be honest was impressed with how Anytime+ managed things
Posted by ash76 over 4 years ago
I suggest Sky replace “in an instant” with.....
in UP TO a minute.
;-)
Posted by liam87 over 4 years ago
Seems a bit OTT to me. Anytime+ is very quick here too. 5-10 seconds. Next Lovefilm Instant will be reprimanded by the ASA because of the 10-20 seconds of buffering before something starts to play.
Posted by ukhardy071 over 4 years ago
Definitely extreme. It loaded in around 5 seconds on my old ADSL connection. With fibre around 2 seconds. What's the big deal...
Posted by Scotty141 over 4 years ago
I have ADSL2+, with a download speed of around 0.21Mbps (210Kbps) a it will take about 30 minutes to load, and even then it will continue to buffer if I manage to catch up.

I usually just wait for the program to finish downloading before I begin to watch it!
Posted by oomingmak over 4 years ago
I'm surprised that the ASA didn't just let Sky redefine the accepted meaning of the word "instant". After all, they quite happily let every ISP do exactly that for the word "unlimited".
Posted by ash76 over 4 years ago
"After all, they (the ASA) quite happily let every ISP do exactly that for the word "unlimited". - oomingmak

Exactly.
You make an excellent point.
Posted by leexgx over 4 years ago
but you can Rent the movie Right away sky anytime+ even on an 1MB connection, you cant Rent an movie from blockbusters right away as you need to drive down to there and get the dvd

its not like Broadband that your up to 16mb is really 3mb, at least with FTTC the avg that they state is norm what you get unless your unlucky and are far away from the box
Posted by csimon over 4 years ago
My broadband speed is roughly one tenth of the speed you used to conduct your test with, so you can multiply the delay time you experienced by 10. I can't even watch a small Youtube video without buffering! The ASA's decision is justified, Sky should have qualified the word "instant" by saying "instant for above average or fibre connections". However, the phrasing seems to be "rent instantly", not "watch instantly". I'm sure Sky's service allows you to actually perform that transaction at lightning speed!
Posted by skybluehuw over 4 years ago
You can not even play a blu ray disk instantly (or DVD) I can watch s sky film quicker than either formate.

I am just glad BT don't own it. I live in london and they couldn't keep my connection for more than a couple of hours without it dropping. It was so bad I paid to get out of my contract and went back to Sky, much to the joy of my son and his Xbox
Posted by ash76 over 4 years ago
"However, the phrasing seems to be "rent instantly", not watch instantly." -csimon

Precisely so.
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