Sky has united its live streaming and download package for Apple devices and laptop-owning PC users under the umbrella term ‘Sky Go’. But this hasn’t been solely a rebranding exercise.
Each subscriber can now watch the (SD only) service on a maximum of two devices at once, plus an Xbox 360 or Fetch TV box if required.
This may seem stingy, especially if you have several family members wanting to watch Sky at the same time, but you can ‘swap out’ devices as you go, via the web. Sky says it regards this as being adequate for most users but is considering raising the limit.
Once again, what you can watch is dependent on your TV subscription if you have one (in which case Sky Go is free). Non-subscribers can take out a ‘monthly ticket’ subscription directly via the Sky Go website with prices starting at £15. Apple mobile users must download a free app from the iTunes store.
PC and Mac viewers can log in through the Sky Go website and watch it via their web browser (you’re required to have Microsoft Silverlight installed). Sky also provides a free Sky Go desktop application for managing downloads. There’s no Android version yet – we’re told it could appear by the end of the year.
As before, PC/Mac users can stream live channels they subscribe to from a list of 32 that includes Sky Sports 1-4, Sky1, MTV, Nat Geo and four Sky Movies channels. The PC/Mac interface remains largely unchanged.
You can choose from a list of channels or browse an EPG. On-demand shows appear in the Anytime+ menu and downloads are handled progressively (so can be watched while being downloaded). Typically, TV shows must be watched within seven days and films within 30.
Licensing issues mean that only a few channels (Sky Sports 1-4, four Sky Movies channels, Sky News, ESPN included) can be streamed to Apple devices with no downloading.
The Sky Go App is essentially a stripped-down, touch-enhanced version of its Mac/PC counterpart. Channels are listed on the main page with the live stream displayed in preview form in the top right. Tapping this brings up the fullscreen version. A now-and-next EPG is adequate for streaming.
Using a 2MB 3G connection on an iPad results were jerky and blocky, although 3G usage restrictions mean this won’t be an option for many. Using 2MB Wi-Fi on an iPad and PC laptop, however, brought smooth results.
Any VoD service stands and falls as much on what’s on offer as how easy it is to access (as it is here). Hopefully, deals can be closed soon to make Sky Go more attractive to Apple acolytes.