For the first time, three of Sky’s own-brand channels are only available to viewers in high definition, 16 years after the pay TV company first launched its HD service.
This morning, Sky Cinema Comedy, Sky Cinema Drama and Sky Cinema Thriller ceased to be available in standard definition (SD) on the satellite platform. The HD versions of the channels now become the default on Sky’s Electronic Programme Guide. For existing HD customers, SD simulcasts of the channel are no longer available.
The move is seen as testing the water to see how viewers react to services being turned off. Sky Cinema is now offered to Sky satellite subscribers with HD as standard. But Sky continues to charge extra for HD services in other genres including Sport and Entertainment. This is seen as a barrier to a widespread SD channel switch-off.
During the last three years, Sky has even launched new standard definition channels, with Sky Max, Sky Comedy and Sky Nature for example, available in both SD and HD.
On Sky Glass, Sky’s online-based TV service, all services are HD by default.
Some third-party channels on Sky’s satellite platform have already completed SD switch-off. This includes news channels NHK World and GB News and sports channel FreeSports. Meanwhile, ITV has already reduced the number of regions it broadcasts in SD.
However, Sky still operates a number of SD-only channels, including Challenge and Sky Replay, with no immediate sign of an HD upgrade for satellite subscribers.
At the same time as switching off three SD Cinema channels, Sky also closed Pick+1 and SyFy+1.
How does this compare with other platforms that offer Sky Cinema in the UK?
- Virgin Media already offers Sky Cinema in HD only.
- BT TV currently offers all of Sky Cinema’s channels in either SD or HD.
- NOW offers Sky Cinema in up to 720p with a standard subscription. With an HD boost, viewers can enjoy full HD quality (subject to internet connection).