Sky’s 4K Set-Top Box Coming Soon to Counter BT Threat

Mike Wheatley

British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) is about to steal a march on arch-rival British Telecom by bringing forward the launch of its planned 4K Ultra HD set-top box to this spring, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Sky 4K

The paper cites unnamed sources who claim that Sky is hoping to accelerate its ultra high-definition (UHD) plans in response to increased pressure from BT.

Sky’s 4K set top box, details of which were first revealed last year, would give its customers access to an unknown number of 4K channels that will likely be launched at the same time as the hardware is released. As well as the higher resolution, Sky’s new box would also pack a cloud PVR, which means viewers can access recorded programmes on their smartphones and tablets – a key selling point perhaps, given the low penetration of 4K in the United Kingdom so far.

The launch would help Sky strike a blow against BT, which recently caught its rival napping when it managed to bag exclusive rights to all Champions League and Europa League games for three seasons, starting with the 2015/16 campaign. Sky has been on the defensive against BT for some time – most recently, its rival was given permission to sell Sky Sports 12 to viewers with YouView BT hardware, while BT has been allowed to screen a limited number of Premier League matches since the 2013/14 season. Furthermore, The Telegraph claims BT Sport is set to begin 4K streaming trials over the Internet this May, before launching its own web-based 4K streaming service in August, when next season’s Champions League gets under way.

But The Telegraph believes that Sky is likely to get there first, having carried out a number of experimental 4K broadcasts in the past. Sky has previously shot live Premier League matches, the Ryder Cup golf tournament, and several nature documentaries in Ultra HD, and is now just a few months away from launching the country’s first satellite 4K channels.

Sky has always positioned itself as the UK’s leader in next-gen TV technology, and so few will be surprised to see it get into 4K broadcasting ahead of its rivals. The broadcaster hasn’t confirmed the news yet, but it didn’t deny it either – a BSkyB spokesperson told The Telegraph that “Innovation is at the very heart of Sky’s business. We have a proven track record of leadership in the industry as we continually strive to find new ways to enhance the customer experience”.

Source: The Telegraph