Early adopters of Sky Glass face an additional charge early next year, just as the company undertakes its routine annual price rise.
For Sky Glass subscribers who were among the first to get their hands on Sky’s internet-based TV in October 2021, a popular add-on becomes chargeable in the coming months.
Sky offers both Glass and Stream customers the option to fast forward adverts on its catch-up service, which includes content from channels including Sky Max and Sky Atlantic.
The Ad-skipping add-on is included in the Sky Ultimate TV subscription for the first 18 months. However, once the free period is over, Sky will charge a £5 monthly fee. This means many subscribers may have forgotten about the extra charge until it is added to their bill.
But for those tempted to ditch the add-on, Sky has recently increased the number of adverts. Previously adverts on catch-up appeared before a programme. Now programmes have multiple breaks, just like live TV.
For early adopters of Sky Glass, the 18 month free period will expire in April. This coincides with Sky’s annual price rise, which already threatens to significantly increase bills.
Consumer groups already fear double digit percentage increases due to the current rate of inflation, although Sky, unlike others, doesn’t directly link its broadband and TV price to a particular rate.
Why is it a problem?
The ability to fast forward adverts mimics what many have taken for granted when recording programmes off the TV. But on Sky Glass/Sky Stream, the ability to record locally is absent. Instead, viewers must access ‘recordings’ of programmes shown on TV through the relevant catch-up TV service. That means there’s no choice but to either submit to adverts or sign-up for activate the fast forward option.
However, Sky Glass/Sky Stream users can’t get rid of adverts completely. The service requires viewers to proactively pick up their remote and press fast forward when the adverts start.
NOW better for less money?
Sky’s budget streaming service NOW started adding adverts to its catch-up service last year.
However it offers a Boost option to remove ads altogether. The £5 NOW Boost also includes access to content in HD and improved sound quality (Dolby 5.1) among other features.
Standard pricing for NOW Memberships start at £9.99 a month on a rolling monthly basis. Sky Stream is normally offered from £26 a month, with the option of a one month or 18 month contract. Sky Glass combines the Sky Stream offer, plus an additional charge for the TV itself. (The company is currently running ‘Black Friday’ promotions with special deals, which vary from the above mentioned standard prices.)
Sky Glass/Sky Stream includes HD by default. In contrast, HD is only available with a boost on NOW. Nevertheless the overall price for viewers wanting just the entertainment and/or cinema channels and on-demand content is less, and is ad-free.
Analysis: A captive audience and extra charges
One way Sky can extract extra fees for services that were once taken for granted is due to viewers being captive to Sky’s hardware and software. With Sky Glass, viewers give Sky control of their TV set and everything involved in accessing and consuming programmes and streaming apps. Cease subscribing and the device loses most of its functionality.
NOW on the other hand sits as a standalone app alongside other competing apps on a viewer’s own TV set or streaming device. Many of the non-Sky owned channels available through Sky Stream and Sky Glass can be accessed via the TVs tuner or alternative apps like Discovery+. Therefore NOW is more sensitive to extra fees, with viewers able to move away more easily.