Are Sky TV’s new Sky Go offerings a sign of things to come?

Earlier this month Sky updated its Sky Go App, a move that connects customers with Sky Go on the go, with the addition of catch up TV, box sets and on-demand content on mobile and tablet.

The updates to the Sky Go App allows Sky’s domestic customers to watch entertainment, movies and sport on their devices. Additionally, customers will have continued access to 24 live streaming channels as well as up to three Sky Sport pop-up channels available to watch live on Sky Go. Customers are also able to check Sky’s electronic program guide (EPG) to manage their preferences such as parental controls, video quality and devices, as well as access to FAQs and provide feedback, via the settings tab.

Sky’s chief product and technology officer, Julian Wheeler, says that until now, Sky Go App users haven’t had the same functionality on the go and with the addition of Catch Up TV, full season box sets and additional on-demand content, its mobile customers can access content where they want, when they want.  

To show the updates in action Sky released a 30-second spot titled ‘Sky Go, may cause public displays of emotion’. It shows a woman shedding a tear at her hairdresser while watching a film on her tablet.  

Wheeler says the decision to update Sky Go is a continuation of its offerings Neon and Fan Pass, and focuses on the live experience by enabling a variety of video on demand offerings to its customers. Additionally, the update prompted a chance to update its functionality with a new user interface hoping for enhanced customer experience. 

“Although we have a lot of video content available on demand through the Sky box, the user interface is a lot more menu-driven compared to Sky Go, which is visually enhanced with poster art and is more natural for people to use.”

The updated platform sees Sky playing catch up with its competitors, and according to The New Zealand Herald the new user interface update couldn’t have come sooner with its previous offering being described as ‘a digital fossil, serving as an indication of what the world used to be like’.

Additionally, Sky’s chief executive, John Fellet, conceded to RNZ that its total subscriber count departed because the previous on-demand models didn’t attract enough customers.  

Whether or not the new updates will offset Sky’s ailments remain unbeknown – but Wheeler insists that the move away from a solely focused linear model will strengthen its audience. 

“I think it adds to it, after talking to customers they really value Sky Go – they watch it at different times, either with their family, in another part of the house or when they are out and about.

“It’s about adding value to customers who get to watch what they want when they want. It’s not about taking customers away from television but adding value to the customer experience.”

So, with Sky pedalling towards a multi-platformed future, what can its customers expect?

According to Wheeler, Sky’s roadmap includes continued enhancements over coming months: more updates, new launches, new platforms and new products alongside the Cisco internet video platform.

Asked whether the focus of on-demand content will isolate people in the regions where the broadband tends to be weaker, Wheeler says Sky remains committed to its satellite delivery system, which is the only way it can guarantee that Sky will reach the whole country.

“While the advancement to Sky Go is a great advancement, it is not the only advancement and we continue to be dedicated to bringing Sky content to the whole country.”

This year has been a bit of a battle for Sky with its latest six-month financial figures showing a net subscriber countdown by 37,359 compared to the same period last year – from 816,135 in December 2016 to 778,776 subscribers in 2017. There’s also been the loss of broadcasting rights to the Rugby World Cup and a number of cost-cutting initiatives to stay in the race with Lightbox and Netflix.

However,  Sky still boasts a massive audience and remains a premium television sports broadcaster for New Zealand. Looking down the line, Wheeler is positive about what is in the works for Sky.  

“We’re very excited about the times ahead, while there is an increasing amount of competition, we are doing more to bring content to customers in different ways – new technology continues to bring a true customer experience through live sport, movies or TV shows. And we are able to look at customers in much more detail now.

“We are now bringing products to the market that suit a wide range of customers, where we were a little more singularly focused in the past.”

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