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Sky doubles connected Sky+HD boxes but faces old box crunch

Sky has doubled the number of broadband-connected Sky+HD boxes but could face a limit from users who haven’t upgraded older hardware.

The On Demand-friendly new EPG is installed in 8.3m of Sky’s 10.7m TV-subscribing homes – and 5.7m of those are now connected to broadband.

But the new Sky Guide is only available on more recent internet-ready Sky+HD boxes, suggesting that around two million Sky homes may have boxes which can’t be connected.

Sky has spent the past two years replacing the oldest Sky+HD boxes with new models and shipping free wireless broadband connectors to encourage On Demand take-up.

Sky's still just behind Freeview as the UK's most popular TV service
Sky’s still just behind Freeview as the UK’s most popular TV service

Jeremy Darroch, Sky chief executive, said: “Our investment to increase take-up and usage of new connected TV services is delivering excellent results. 

“After connecting 3 million boxes this year, more than half of TV customers now have access to our market-leading On Demand services and the benefits are coming through in increased viewing, satisfaction and loyalty. 

“Our expanded Box Sets offering has been a particular hit among customers with Game of Thrones, 24 and Grey’s Anatomy, each achieving over 10 million downloads over the course of the year.”

It’s always a challenge to tease the hidden numbers from Sky’s quarterly financial reports, which are designed to tell a rosy story to investors.

Sky’s TV subscriber figure also includes users of Now TV, the pay-as-you-go streaming service, for which we only know that one in five customers take both Entertainment and Movies monthly passes.

We do know that Sky added 264,000 new TV customers across satellite and Now TV, about double what it achieved a year before.

Of this 10.7m, more than 5.2m pay for HD channels and more than 5.5m also use Sky Go, with 1.2m of those paying for the premium Sky Go Extra – a million more than last summer.

“We saw a particularly good performance in TV, adding twice as many new customers as last year,” Darroch added.

“This growth was underpinned by the increasing quality and range of content that we offer for the whole family, making Sky the number one destination for customers who want the best choice of TV. 

“Our entertainment channels – Sky 1, Sky Atlantic and Sky Living – now account for three of the top four slots in customers’ ranking of must-have pay TV channels while Sky Sports enjoyed its highest share of viewing in seven years.

“We are also making good progress in developing new revenue streams. More than one million customers now take our premium mobile TV service, Sky Go Extra, and we’ve opened up the movie purchase market with our Buy & Keep service in Sky Store.”

Can Sky ever catch BT, and how many fibre homes does it really have?
Can Sky ever catch BT, and how many fibre homes does it really have?

Sky has add 341,000 broadband subscribers in the past year, although that’s only about a third of the broadband growth it achieved the previous year (905,000 additions).

Meanwhile, there’s no mention of fibre broadband, whether it’s the FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) product Sky buys wholesale from BT, or the gigabit FTTP (fibre to the premises) trial it’s about to launch with TalkTalk and CityFibre in York.

Sky also has 4.3m customers taking TV, broadband and phone – the golden ‘triple play’ of communications providers – up 349,000 from last year and a slowly rising percentage of its total customers.


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