Sky is to cut 1,000 jobs in its engineering division as viewers make the switch from satellite to internet-delivered TV services.
- The launch of Sky Glass and Sky Stream means Sky no longer needs as many professional installers.
- Sky is actively pushing its IP-based TV services over satellite to new customers.
- The pay TV company only has another four years left on its satellite carriage contract.
Sky’s satellite installers have been a regular sight up and down the UK and Ireland in the past three decades, notably with brightly coloured vans advertising the latest Sky shows.
But their time is up, according to Sky, who on Tuesday afternoon announced it would be cutting around 1,000 jobs in its engineering division. The exact figure is yet to be finalised.
Anyone who has tried to sign up with Sky since late 2021 will have found it more difficult to sign up for its satellite TV based service. It’s been aggressively pushing its Sky Glass TVs – and for those wanting to choose their own TV – Sky Stream pucks.
And that’s had an impact on the number of tasks available for its satellite installer teams. The new IP-based TV services are designed to ‘plug and play’ – the devices designed to attach themselves to an existing wi-fi router. No installer required.
Technical support for IPTV services is largely outsourced, with any connection-related issues pushed back to the end user or to the likes of Openreach, who carry Sky’s full fibre broadband service through its network.
Consultation with affected staff is ongoing.
What next for digital satellite to IPTV migration?
Sky became the first UK television platform to offer viewers a digital-only service back in 2001, when it turned off its analogue TV platform. Sky Digital set the benchmark for multichannel TV for decades.
Now, the term digital-only is back, albeit contextually inaccurate as satellite is digital: this time the term refers to viewers and broadcasters switching to internet delivered services. In 2021, it launched its IPTV platform. With it, Sky is now seeking to regain its position at the forefront of broadcasting innovation.
If anything the push from digital satellite television to IPTV will intensify in the coming years, led by cost savings, not only by getting rid of installers.
Sky only has just over four years left on its existing satellite carriage contract with SES, the operators of the Astra satellites used to carry the service.
It’s been three years since the last confirmation from SES of an extension of satellite capacity – this confirmed Sky would remain on satellite until 2028. The current fleet of three satellites that carry Sky’s UK and Ireland service – Astra 2E, 2F and 2G – are all due to reach their end of life by the end of the decade.
A decision will soon need to be made on force migrating current satellite users or, like Movistar+ in Spain, continuing a limited satellite TV service for viewers with poor internet connections. Reports that Sky is planning to cease selling Sky Q and satellite upgrades have so far been denied, but that day is expected to come sooner rather than later.
And that will going forward only require a smaller number of legacy engineers, whose numbers are bound to fall further in the next few years.
In the meantime, Sky is actively making its older SD receivers obsolete. It’s also recently reduced the features available on older Sky+HD boxes.
A Sky spokesperson said:
“The launch of Sky Glass and Sky Stream represents a shift in our business to deliver TV over IP (an internet connection) rather than satellite. Increasingly, customers are choosing Sky Glass and Sky Stream which don’t require specialist installation, and that has led us to change the number of roles we need to deliver our services.”