Sky to introduce premium 4K 'ultra HD' Premier League football service next year
Sky is to broadcast Premier League football in 4K 'ultra' high definition next year, a senior executive said today.
The move, confirmed to an assembled industry audience by the company's chief marketing officer Steven Van Rooyen, will finally add substance to the television industry's fledgling 4K standard. 4K reaches up to four times the resolution and clarity of current HD broadcasts. It is presently used by BT Sport for Champions League matches.
The satellite broadcaster will also deliver 4K content for movies and "entertainment", according to Mr Van Rooyen. These programmes will be delivered through the company's satellite dishes.
Independent.ie understands that the new services are likely to cost a premium over existing services.
However, the development could boost the fortunes of television manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and Sony, who have been heavily marketing 4K televisions as the next wave of TV technology.
Up to now, very little content has been made available in 4K, with many broadcasters yet to upgrade to HD for regular programming.
However, the move to 4K will not mean a requirement for bigger set top boxes, according to Sky's director of product development, Andrew Olson.
"We're using compression technology that should allow you to store roughly similar amounts of 4K content on your box as you do now for HD," he told Independent.ie.
The 4K football development was revealed as Sky unveiled a new set-top box that allows users to share TV services on five different tellies and tablets simultaneously.
The box, called Sky Q, lets viewers watch content and use 'smart' features such as pausing live TV on three separate televisions on two tablets.
It does this using a network of smaller boxes that connect to the main set-top box.
The Sky Q box has 2,000 gigabytes of storage, enough for 350 hours of 'full HD' content. The unit is half the size of Sky's existing set top box.
The new system also boosts wifi signals in a home by creating a 'mesh' network between the devices. And it features a new touch sensitive remote control that allows users to choose between some functions by swiping on the device.
The Sky Q set-up also lets users save recordings onto tablets to be viewed outside the home. However, recordings cannot be streamed from outside the home.
The new box is set to go on sale here "in early 2016", according to Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch.
Pricing for the new Sky Q system is yet to be announced. However, Independent.ie understands that it will cost more than existing Sky Plus service. The extra outlay will come in the form of a more expensive set top box and a slightly higher monthly premium.
Sky has approximately 700,000 subscribers in Ireland.