Sky Q 4K lineup to include James Bond, live UHD sports, here are the juicy details

by on July 15, 2016

Stephan Jukic – July 15, 2016

Sky’s much anticipated 4K UHD content service for their Sky Q set-top box has finally been announced in all its varied details and we like what we’re seeing here.

In the last couple of days, Sky has revealed that their first 4K offerings are coming in August and will include more than 70 on-demand movies along with over 100 of this season’s Premier League games live in 4K UHD as well.

The UK broadcaster will begin showing their 4K content offerings to select satellite service customers as of August 13th and the service will expand from there.

What’s more, it seems that Sky’s offerings are now some of the best on the market, despite BT, Netflix, Amazon and others all offering streaming 4K material, Sky beats the bunch in most ways with the scope and diversity of its line-up.

On the other hand, the Sky Q bundles which offer this service are on the pricey side and this might initially weigh down demand among UK consumer audiences. What will also affect demand (and t applies to all the other UK streaming services as well) is the simple fact that only a minority percentage of UK households actually own 4K TVs or for that matter have internet access which is powerful enough to stream web-based 4K content like that offered by Amazon, BT Sport and Netflix.

Virgin Media, having possibly been kicked into gear by competition from BT and Sky, has also publicly declared that it will be delivering its own 4K set-top box-based content service later in 2016.

Moving on to the details of Sky’s new 4K content services, there’s plenty of juicy entertainment and features for fans to love with what Sky is offering, even if the overall package is a bit steeply priced.

Users who want to access the Sky 4K content service will have to have or take on a subscription with one of the company’s Sky Q Silver packages, which come out at a minimum monthly cost of £56. However, if users also want to have their hands on a Sky Sports, Sky Cinema (which comes with all the first release movies like James Bond) or a Sky Broadband connectivity package, which is required for the on-demand 4K content, then the price of the whole shebag comes out to about £114.40. This is definitely not cheap.

That said, the initial listing of bonus materials in 4K features the following:

  • Recent movies that include The Revenant, Spectre, The Martian and Bridge of Spies
  • On-demand downloads of older movie titles which include Minority Report, Forrest Gump, Zoolander, Jerry Maguire, The Da Vinci Code, The Godfather and the Spider-Man trilogy
  • 124 Premier League matches, live and in 4K UHD
  • Every Formula 1 race that will be broadcast in 2017
  • 30 hours of documentary production entertainment
  • And five new TV drama series

This is a selection of content which will of course keep growing and the movie selection in particular already offers enough content for Sky to have placed the different movies into categories such as “Blockbusters”, “Action Movies”, “Oscar Winners” and so on.

In other words, for what it’s worth right now, the Sky 4K content package competes very nicely with existing UK 4K entertainment services like BT and Netflix. In fact, in terms of live 4K sportscasts, the Sky Q Silver package nicely outdoes BT Sport, which is so far featuring no more than an average of one live event per week. In contrast, the Sky content offerings will come with many premieres of first release 4K titles while also including considerably more numerous 4K sportscast offerings.

On the other hand, Netflix and Amazon do offer superior content selections when it comes to original series TV shows. In this area Netflix in particular dominates heavily.

A major weakness of the Sky Q Silver content package is that it lacks support for high dynamic range content and encoding, at least for now and this despite growing HDR display support among the new release 4K UHD TVs of late 2015 and 2016. Since HDR is the real top-shelf display technology of content and TV picture quality now (surpassing even 4K resolution itself in terms of perceived visual impact and quality to viewers) Sky will eventually have to also include HDR support if it wants to stay on par with the general competitive curve. Netflix and Amazon both do stream HDR content in their original TV show offerings and some movies.

However, as far as HDR is concerned, Sky itself claims that it’s waiting for the standards around the visual technology to formalize further before investing in that direction. In any case, the quantity of HDR 4K TVs in UK households is still quite small, being considerably lesser than the total percentage of homes with 4K TVs of any kind.

One other benefit of the Sky Q 4K content offerings is that the movies, drama shows and documentaries will all be delivered as on-demand services, meaning that users who lack sufficient broadband power for direct 4K content streaming can still enjoy these pieces of ultra HD entertainment.

What about Now?

Now TV doesn't feature any 4K content access at least for now.

Now TV doesn’t feature any 4K content access at least for now.

It’s also worth noting that while the selections of Ultra HD documentaries and entertainment shows require a Sky Q Silver subscription bundle, and the Sky 4K sportscasts and Sky Cinema offerings require subscriptions of their own, movies in 4K from the Sky Store Ultra HD selections can be accessed individually by anyone with the Sky Q Silver box and a 4K TV for viewing them at their native resolution. In fact, all of the new Sky 4K services require the possession of the Sky Q Silver set-top box in particular.

Finally, we should note that Sky’s other set-top box platform, Now TV, which offers up internet TV streams and has also recently been released, will not offer Sky 4K content for the time being.

The main reason for this is thought to lie in the Sky wanting to give its potential subscribers a particular premium reason to go for its more expensive satellite services from Sky Q Silver.

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