Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sky Player

Sky have an "iPlayer like" service unimaginatively called Sky Player. I don't have a Sky subscription (I did until a tree grew too tall and blocked the signal) and due to moving home I will soon be giving up Homechoice/Tiscali TV/Talk Talk TV so I was hoping a Sky Player subscription would give me a way to access Sky content without a dish. I'm not interested in the Sports or Movie channels - all I want access to is the base channels. As I'm a desktop Linux user their desktop client is useless to me (why go with fairly open, almost universally installed technologies like flash when you can go with Silverlight?) but they have a relatively new XBox 360 app and I have a relatively new XBox 360 so I've decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I can't say that I'm all that impressed with it.

Sky allow non Sky subscribers to access the base Sky Player package for £15 a month (though with a new XBox, you can take out a 3 month trial subscription for £10 - which is what I've gone for). For that £15 a month you don't get much - access to a small library of Video on Demand content and a handful of live channels. Not only is the VOD library far from extensive, it's most annoying feature is that it will happily show you all the content from Bravo that there is no way to get access to if you're a Sky Player only subscriber (Sky Player is available free to Sky subscribers, and if you have a package that includes Bravo then you can get Bravo's VOD content). Worse (and the reason why I won't be continuing to subscribe) is that not only is the number of live channels somewhat thin, Sky 1 is crippled - shows like the Simpsons get blocked. Why it's OK for Talk Talk to transmit the Simpsons on Sky 1 over IP while it's not OK for Sky to transmit the Simpsons on Sky 1 over IP is the sort of thing only a media lawyer could understand. Still, I don't have to understand Sky's reason - I just have to not give them my money.

I can see Sky Player being useful if you live in a Sky subscribing household and want to get limited Sky content in a room without having to install a second (or third) Sky box. I can see it being useful if you're a bored Sky subscriber sitting in a Starbucks with a laptop that's running Windows or Mac OS with time to kill (latte sippin' iPad fans are in the same boat as us Linux users - greetings comrades!). If you don't already have Sky then it's hard to see what's there to justify £15 a month. I guess if you want the sports channels, are unable to get them any way else and yet money is little object then maybe it's for you, but if all you want is "basic cable" over IP then Sky Player sadly isn't the way to go.

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