And so it comes to pass: Sky on the Internet and available to all UK broadband subscribers. Dishes have been in Sky’s DNA from day one and they will be around for a long time, but making Sky open to all is a major evolutionary moment for Sky, for pay-TV and for broadcasting as a whole.
Of course, we all saw it coming – eventually. When broadband capacities were high enough and content security was robust enough, why not? Some questions remain on these fronts and Sky is certainly doing just fine in its established markets, so why now?
The answer, as always with Sky, is to look not just at how it is trying to help itself, but also at who it is trying to hurt. If you park your tanks on Sky’s lawn, don’t expect a fight, expect a war.
LoveFilm, Netflix, and YouView (which Sky will still see as in essence an instrument of its Nemesis, the BBC), are all in the pay-TV giant’s sights.
The message to all UK viewers is; you’ve heard about all the Sky programmes, well now you can pick and choose among them and you don’t need a dish. Sky 1’s recent demonstrations of its commitment to genuinely high quality drama and comedy starring famous names will help its credibility with those not swayed by movies and sport.
But the more important message is to the suppliers of those movies and sports – which are still what count most in pay-TV. The message is ‘don’t for one minute think we are not still your most important customer. We can, and we will, out gun any and all competition’.
The content owners will hear, and some will even listen. But, in the end, a war can only be good for arms dealers. If you have a slate of hit movies, or even better some popular sporting rights, you can start upgrading your holiday plans now.