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Sky UK Unveils New Sky Q TV Upgrades as Comcast Bids £22.1bn UPDATE

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018 (8:39 am) - Score 61,448

Sky (Sky Broadband) has announced that their premium Sky Q TV platform will, starting from March 2018, be enhanced by multiple new features (e.g. HDR content, Spotify, improved voice controls etc.). On top of that Comcast has moved to counter Murdoch with a £22.1bn takeover bid for Sky.

Overall Sky intends to make several big changes and improvements to their Sky Q platform and we’ll cut to the chase by summarising these below. Headline features include support for Spotify, a new widescreen User Unterface (UI) and the amount of Ultra HD (4K) content available will double this year.

The Sky Q Changes

· Spotify will launch on Sky Q in the UK and Ireland. Customers will be able to use the ad-supported Spotify service for free, or log in to their premium account. Along with Sky Soundbox, customers will be able to augment their existing Sky Q audio services, including the ability to stream to TV speakers via AirPlay or Bluetooth.

· The amount of Ultra HD (4K) content available will double this year.

· Voice functionality extended to give personalised recommendations (e.g. “show movies for me“) and app specific requests (e.g. “what is the weather today?“).

· More personalised experience throughout the user interface, with use of deeper Machine Learning and detailed algorithms based on a household’s viewing habits, including reflecting times of day, ensuring customers are served content most relevant to them.

· The Sports section will be personalised to reflect customer’s favourite sports and teams, seamlessly integrating with the Sky Sports app, to help customers know what’s on and what the latest relevant news is.

· Introduction of a brand new widescreen User Interface (UI) which will help customers navigate a mixture of personalised and curated sections of content. A newly designed homepage including ‘Most Recent Recordings’ and ‘Favourite Channels’ along with editorially curated selections of Box Sets, Movies, and Catch-Up TV, will aim to make everything both quicker and easier than before.

· The viewing experience will be upgraded with the launch of HDR (High Dynamic Range), to give customers with 4K televisions the most stunning definition and clarity available. At present it’s unclear how much HDR supporting content will actually be available.

· New kids mode – integrated with the kids app – will aim to give parents peace of mind over what their children can access and watch.

· Customers with multiple devices will be able to stream Sky content on the Sky Q app on even more devices at the same time.

· A Sky Q app will also become available on smart TVs and third-party devices, allowing even more people to enjoy the Sky Q experience.

Sky’s Group Chief Executive, Jeremy Darroch, said:”Sky Q keeps getting better and better. With this suite of innovation, we are taking the user experience to another level – and we won’t stop there. We will continue enhancing Sky Q and finding new ways to bring customers more of what they love, and in so doing ensure we appeal to every household and every one in that household. With Spotify joining our Sky Q platform, we are giving customers the best home entertainment experience in Europe.”

Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch’s (21st Century Fox) on-going £18.5bn effort to acquire Sky has been dealt a blow after US cable TV giant Comcast tabled a more attractive £22.1bn takeover bid for Sky. The move could be more politically and economically acceptable than Murdoch’s offer, which might just swing the pendulum in Comcast’s favour. However Fox and Sky have already signed an agreement and this may complicate matters.

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, said:

“We think Sky is an outstanding company. It has 23 million customers, leading positions in the UK, Italy and Germany, and is a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver its customers a great experience. Sky has a proud record of investment in news and programming. It has great people and a very strong and capable management team.

We think that Sky would be very valuable to us as we look to expand our presence internationally. The Superior Cash Proposal values each Sky share at £12.50 in cash – a significant premium to the 21CF price currently recommended. We would like to own the whole of Sky and we will be looking to acquire over 50% of the Sky shares. We are confident that we will be able to receive the necessary regulatory approvals. If successful, the acquisition will enhance our free cash flow per share in the first year.

The UK is and will remain a great place to do business. We already have a strong presence in London and Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for our growth in Europe. We intend to maintain and enhance Sky’s business. Adding Sky to the Comcast family of businesses will increase our international revenues from 9% to 25%. We believe that there are significant opportunities for growth by combining these businesses. We are continually seeing that customers’ demands and expectations are evolving rapidly as technology enables new products and services. By combining the content, technology expertise and investment of Comcast with the market leading businesses and talent within Sky, we will create a very exciting platform for growth across Europe.

We hold the management of Sky in high regard and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them and the independent directors of Sky to discuss our plans for the business, particularly with respect to maintaining Sky’s strong platform in the UK. In due course, we very much hope that the independent directors will recommend our proposal.”

The proposal (£12.50 per share) represents a premium of approximately 16% versus the current 21st Century Fox offer price of £10.75 for each Sky Share. The full market announcement can be found here.

In the USA Comcast also sells a cable (DOCSIS) and FTTH ultrafast broadband service via their Xfinity brand.

UPDATE 12:36pm

Sky has now responded to issue the following statement, which is largely following standard procedure.

Sky’s Statement

The Independent Committee of Sky notes today’s announcement from Comcast regarding a possible all cash offer for Sky at £12.50 per share (the “Possible Offer”).

The Independent Directors of Sky are mindful of their fiduciary duties and their obligations under the UK Takeover Code.

Since no firm offer has been made at this point, shareholders are advised to take no action.

A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
33 Responses
  1. Susan townsend says:

    Still no ‘reminder’ facility then. Long overdue
    Will this mean that ultra HD will still only be available on the TV with the main ‘q’ box?
    Doesn’t seem to have retrieved the main sports lost to other providers
    Question – why bother with sky?

    1. Mike says:

      Stick the program you do not want to miss in the info bar, or visit channel with content you want to watch then go back to channel you are on and you can quickly switch using PIP function. Or you can set it as a favourite or to record. You can also use voice commands in association with Alexa to verbally remind you.

      All those options and help to remind you of content though are probably not good enough, so if that is your response do not bother.

  2. Rob says:

    Comcast are apparently quite the scumbag operation stateside. Doesn’t look good for Sky customers if they take over.

    1. JustAnotherFileServer says:

      I use to work for a company that got took over by Comcast and the changes they made were so bad that not only did the staff jump ship, the majority of the customers did so to.

    2. Simon says:

      I worked for a company BT took over – same result!

      Comcast are tighter than a badgers arse with BW and caps – no thank you. I was about to sign up to Sky – now hmm, not so sure.

    3. Mike says:

      There I was thinking they’d take over Sky and roll out a competing DOCSIS/FTTH network…

      RIP Sky :'(

  3. Richard Gynes says:

    SKY is going into an agreement of sorts with BT regarding programme sharing by (I understand)2020,I have a Sky contract as well as having BT tv ( both with hi-Def pictures).BT HAVE just increased there prices as well as Sky. My point is on Sky I can get 4k sport etc,but on BT I cannot get 4k. WHY ?.

    1. Simon says:

      I just saw a minibus of cyclists called team Sky – clearly this is where the money is going – pointless.

    2. Mike says:

      Could be worse they could be sponsoring entire stadiums, or legless killers… Oh hold on BT already did that.

    3. Spurple says:

      On BT TV, you can get BT Sport in 4K and Sky Sports in HD.

    4. Mike says:

      And on Sky you get 124 of the 126 premiership games in 4k, f1 in 4k and movie channels in 4k. Unlike BT and its BTsport you do not have to take broadband with sky either, i know what id choose.

  4. Trevor Harris says:

    Anyone know which hdr system. I hope it will be able to convert HLG HDR10

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Good question. I found this document online, which suggests that HLG10 will be the standard supported but it does also mention the PQ method. Maybe it will handle both.

      Where a HDR deliverable has been requested, it must be an addition to the ITU-R BT.709 compliant, SDR grade. The HDR must comply with ITU-R BT.2100 and conform to ITU-R BT.2020 colour space, using the PQ format to a minimum of 1000cd/m2 and with associated SMPTE ST 2086:2014 metadata. Sky will conform PQ content to the broadcast format of HLG10 at 1000cd/m2.

      PQ is the preferred delivery format and Sky will convert to HLG10 for playout


  5. Trevor Harris says:

    As I understand it ITU specifies HLG and PQ so if Sky did use HLG10 it would be going against the standard. My TV only supports HDR10 so I am a bit biased. My Panasonic blu-ray player has an option to convert HLG to HDR10 so I hope that Sky will be able to provide a similar facility. All 4k blu-rays use HDR10 so I would have thought HDR10 would be easyer for movies.

    1. Simon says:

      Yeah. What he said 🙂

  6. Peter Whitfield says:

    I am paying 80 pound a month and I think I am paying to much. Instead of putting there prices up why don’t they put them down

    1. JustAnotherFileServer says:

      I use to have Sky, but their prices went way too high. So I just use their NowTV service which I have the movie package for £2.99 per month.

      Would not pay £80 to Sky per month. I would use your feet if I was you as you can get a much better deal than that.

  7. Allan Coates says:

    Sky has lost too many soccer and rugby programs ToBT can’t afford both.

    1. chrisp says:

      so who are you going to pick?

    2. Kev says:

      Early 2019 they both enter a content sharing agreement, so you’ll only need to have the one; off course what the price will be is a different matter

  8. Trevor Welfare says:

    I hope before rolling out these improvements, sky has sorted out the appalling connection problems with the Sky Q main box and the Sky Q mini boxes via their wireless connection.
    I had sky q in 2 different properties and going thought just one wall the mini box kept losing connection to the main box.
    Also their new Sky q 3.0 router is absolutely rubbish. The signal strength is 50% weaker than the old version 2.0 router.
    I have had to isolate the wireless connection on the q router and use a TP Link router instead to improve the wireless coverage in my one bedroom ground floor flat.
    My personal experiences with Sky Q has left me going back to the trusty Sky HD system.
    Basically the sky q system is sh#t.

    1. dave says:

      You could always use ethernet. I connected my sky+ hd box via ethernet for reliability purposes and for faster starting of on demand programs. I am amazed at how few people go through the effort of setting up ethernet up carpets etc.

    2. Trevor says:

      Just for the record regarding skyQ I had it installed last June, and have not had a single problem in any area. No all is well

    3. Mike says:

      I sometimes wonder do these type of people also moan they can not walk through walls or have to point their remote at the TV. 😀

    4. Chris P says:

      i don’t have to point my tv remote at the tv, its bluetooth, like the amazon one.

    5. Mike says:

      Good for you, would you like a medal?

  9. ASH says:

    I wish sky added the NetFlix app, Hate having to switch devices everytime i want to watch sky/netflix.

  10. Mr A R SIMMONS says:

    You wonder why people are streaming the sports as its getting way to expensive..

  11. David Waller says:

    Like the freedom.to read the competing comments.YO!

  12. Si says:

    Biggest mistake I made was signing up to sky. Nothing but hassle with Q service. Picture freezes, constantly resetting all 3 boxes. Internet is slow. Going to push for getting out of contract due to service not fit for its purpose.

  13. Nev wright says:

    Still paying extra for hd Chanels in this day and age -dinosaurs

  14. Nev wright says:

    Still paying extra for hd channels- dinosaurs

  15. Sam says:

    Still no popup saying that this program is available in HD and giving the option to change to the HD version then? My Freeview has done that for years!

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