Five years after its launch, Sky Q has now made its way into a majority of Sky households.
Speaking at the Deloitte Enders Media and Telecoms Conference 2021, Sky CEO & EVP Stephen van Rooyen confirmed that by the end of 2020, Sky Q was installed in 60% of UK homes with Sky TV. It means a majority of Sky subscribers are technically able to access both HD and Ultra HD (4K) services. Sky Q also opens up the full set of apps offered by Sky to subscribers.
During the past year, Sky has encouraged growth of Sky Q through the further addition of streaming services that are only accessible on its latest generation receiver. Sky subscribers wanting to access new services such as Disney+ and discovery+ all on one device have had to upgrade.
According to usage stats cited by the Sky CEO, there has been a 20% increase in the amount of time Sky subscribers spend using Sky Q over the past two years.
Why is the take up of Sky Q so relevant for broadcasters?
Satellite TV in the UK is broadly a closed market between Sky and Freesat. You need one of their receivers to be able to fully benefit from British satellite TV. Sky is the larger of the two operators, and Sky Q is now the most dominant receiver platform. Consequently, decisions about how a broadcaster makes its services available will be influenced by what reaches the majority of households.
For example, the growth of Sky Q now means a majority of Sky subscribers can no longer access the original BBC Red Button Text service. Sky Q offers the new Red Button+ service that connects to the BBC iPlayer rather than the teletext-style service.
Sky Q, together with older Sky+HD and all new Freesat boxes since 2013 support MPEG4. This allows broadcasters to either abandon or reduce standard definition broadcasts without affecting many viewers. Last year, ITV did just that by closing some versions of ITV+1 and expanding its regional HD service. Broadcasters wanting to save bandwidth could continue broadcasting a standard definition service over MPEG4 instead of MPEG2. This is becoming common practice on satellite services in other parts of Europe.
Finally, the increased adaptation of Sky Q is a major selling point for Sky in negotiations on adding new streaming services to the platform.