Sky becomes more democratic, extends Sky Go app to (some) Android users—UPDATED

The wait for mobile viewing is over for Sky subscribers who don’t own iPads, as the broadcaster has just announced the launch of a new version of the Sky Go app that’s compatible on certain versions of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

Since launching in December last year, the Sky Go app has only been available to subscribers via Apple’s products—and the popularity of this initial release has led Sky to increase the inclusivity of its offering.  

“More than 95,000 Sky customers have downloaded the Sky Go app, [and]we are now extending Sky Go to Android devices, with select Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets being the first to make it available. Additional Android devices will follow later this year,” says Sky spokesperson Kirsty Way.

The extension means that the service is now also available on devices running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above, which includes the Galaxy SII, SIII, S4, S5, Note II, Note 3, Note 8, Note 10.1, and the Tab 3 range.

At this stage, the broadcaster is still limiting the service to ten channels – SKY Sport 1, 2, 3 and 4, SKY Movies Premiere, E!, UKTV, Cartoon Network, National Geographic and BBC World News – but Way says that the team plans to increase this number later in the year.

Given that the service remains free for all Sky Basic subscribers, the extension of the app places an even bigger question mark over the longevity of the multi-room service in the sense that a tablet connected to a television negates the need for an additional decoder. 

When the app was initially launched, there was already speculation that Sky would be forced to drop multi-room and, since more subscribers now have access to the service, this seems even more probable.

However, Way is confident the subscribers will continue to use multi-room because of the advantages it continues to hold over the app.

“We think our customers will prefer the TV as it has a better screen and all the channel options. SKY GO has been designed as a mobile option,” she says. 

Another aspect that could secure the longevity of multi-room is that extension of the app is unlikely to increase the number of tablet viewers significantly. According to Nielsen Market Intelligence figures, 96 percent of those who accessed the internet in March via a tablet used Apple’s IOS, while only one percent used Android. The comparative analysis in terms of mobile phones was still skewed in favour of Apple’s operating system, albeit to a lesser degree, with 57 percent using IOS and 40 percent connecting via Android-powered devices.  

(Source: Nielsen Market Intelligence, March data)

Nielsen’s research director Tony Boyte says that these figures show the owners of premium products (iPads in this case) are more likely to use their devices to connect to the internet. 

“The use of devices based on internet access via browsers is not reflective of ownership. The Android ecosphere is particularly fragmented and consists of devices in different price ranges as a result of which the usage behaviour will differ based on who owns it and what it is primarily being used for. For example, you might see lower end tablets used by children for games and videos with none or very little online access involved, whereas the premium end would likely include the user accessing the internet,” he says.

TVNZ’s general manager of on-demand Jason Foden has also noticed a similar trend when it comes streaming via the TVNZ on-demand app, which he says has already been downloaded 600,000 times.

“On-demand delivered to mobile devices accounts for around 40 percent of traffic. There’s more traffic to iOS  than Android and more traffic to tablets than to mobile phones,” he says.

Despite the fact that the on-demand platform has delivered 15 million streams for TVNZ just this year, Foden says that his team is careful when it comes to extending the application to additional devices. 

“While it’s absolutely critical to be on the devices our viewers are using every day, we need to be pragmatic about how many devices we push an application to given cost and support considerations,” he says.   


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