BY GEORG SZALAI | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT #Business
The European pay TV giant had promised “something magical,” with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts telling a London event: “The big idea was to reimagine television Sky’s role in the living room.”
Comcast-owned European pay TV giant Sky has unveiled a broadband-powered TV set, dubbed “Sky Glass,” that doesn’t require a satellite dish to access its full suite of services and has new features, including a playlist that compiles content from across Sky and streaming services.
The product will launch in the U.K. later this month, followed by other markets next year. Sky, led by CEO Dana Strong, had pre-announced that it would on Thursday unveil “something magical.”
During her remarks at a launch event in London, Strong said “we spend more time searching for content than enjoying it” these days given that many consumers have a TV set and various streaming apps and devices. “We really need things to be simple,” she said, arguing that Sky Glass would “transform the role of TV in the home” as it is available with “no dish, no box, no fuzz,” while having Sky and people’s favorite apps inside. That means customers just need to plug the TV in and connect it to WiFi.
A playlist feature will allow users to collect their favorite content from across Sky, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon and the like in one place rather than having to jump from one app to another to search for it. Sky Glass also includes voice control and motion technology, meaning the TV will turn on when consumers pass in front of it.
With the cost for the Sky Glass device, depending on its size, starting at 649 pounds ($881.88), or 13 pounds ($17.65) per month, Strong said the product was “very affordable.” Adding, on top of the device, the Sky Ultimate TV Package, which includes Sky’s own channels plus networks covered by its carriage deals with other media companies, will cost 26 pounds a month ($35.32). That means the cheapest device plus the Sky Ultimate content package will cost 39 pounds a month ($52.97).
The Sky Glass TV will become available in the U.K. on Oct 18, with other markets set to follow in 2022.
The move will allow Sky to go after homes that don’t want or can’t have a dish on their building. When the company revealed its premium Sky Q box in 2017, it said offering to stream its full suite of programming via a broadband connection could add around 2 million homes to its U.K. market opportunity.
In August, the firm launched the new Sky Q IP Box in Germany, allowing broadband users to access a number of terrestrial channels, on-demand box sets and streaming apps.
In the U.K., Sky’s Now TV streaming service has already been offering various types of passes for different content, such as entertainment and sports programming. But it doesn’t provide the full suite of Sky services.
Strong said that the Sky Glass launch “could only really be made possible since we became part of the Comcast family.” The owner of NBCUniversal acquired Sky in 2018. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts was in town for Thursday’s event and shared his thoughts on Sky Glass during his appearance.
“The big idea was to reimagine television Sky’s role in the living room,” the Comcast boss said. After a demo, he knew that “we had something special,” he added. Calling the TV the biggest screen in the home and “the center of family entertainment,” Roberts said consumer behavior has changed much in recent years and predicted it would evolve further, with Sky Glass possibly a “transformative” innovation. He concluded that TV set usage could include more music, video gaming, video conferencing, education and more in the future. “Just 10 years ago, we would never have imagined what we would all be doing with our television and on the internet today,” Roberts said. “Ten years from now, I think it is going to be unrecognizable.”
Alex Ritman in London contributed to this report.
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