SKY has confirmed it will launch a new web service called Now TV for computers, mobile phones and tablets.
Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said the channel will provide instant access to some of Sky’s most popular content, including hundreds of films from Sky Movies.
It will be the first channel from the broadcaster to be completely separate from any subscription to Sky itself, and to require no satellite dish. The move will pit Sky's service against the increasingly rental-oriented model used by Google's YouTube video-sharing site.
In a speech Mr Darroch said "We’ll offer two distinctive ways to watch: the market-leading full Sky service for the whole family, complete with the widest range of channels, high quality products like Sky+, HD and Sky Go, and the peace of mind of a monthly bill; or the flexible, more spontaneous, pay-as-you-go service of Now TV.”
He added that “Because Now TV will also be ‘powered by Sky’, customers will still know that it will give them the best, exclusive content and a high quality experience, from a provider they can trust. Either way, we believe we can offer even more customers a product that’s just right for them."
Now will begin with movies and will add sport and entertainment, and monthly and pay-as-you go billing options will be available.
"As the quality of the TV experience over broadband has improved, people have become more willing to consume content in different ways,” said Mr Darroch. "That presents a great opportunity to distribute our programmes which wasn’t there even a year or two ago. With the long-awaited explosion of connected devices now upon us, this opportunity is only going to grow. And it’s something we believe is highly complementary to our existing service.”
He said the service would aim to reach the 13million homes that do not currently pay for TV, and would be available on computers, tablets, games consoles and connected TVs. The BBC iPlayer recently launched on the Xbox 360 games console, demonstrating the industry's growing concentration on connected devices. If Sky strikes deals with TV makers, Now TV could come pre-installed on internet-enabled televisions.
Sky said details on pricing and availability would be released later in the summer.