By Neil McCormick
Sky’s online TV service, launched today on Xbox LIVE, giving Xbox 360 owners access to live and on-demand pay TV content via their console.
Xbox reveals that the service*, the first of its kind on any games console, will give Xbox LIVE users full access to all the live and on-demand channels currently on Sky Player. This includes popular, hit TV shows from Sky1, blockbuster films from Sky Movies and must see-entertainment and documentaries from MTV, Disney, G.O.L.D, Sky Arts, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, Eden and History. In addition, sports fans will be able to enjoy the biggest sports events – as they happen – from Sky Sports, ESPN and Eurosport.
Subscribers to the Xbox LIVE gold service will also be able to enjoy a range of interactive features to enhance their viewing with friends and family. For example, viewers will be able to use their Xbox avatar in the ‘Avatar Party Mode’ to watch live TV alongside their friends’ avatars. Once there, they will be able to chat live and interact with each other through their Xbox – yet another feature that makes Xbox LIVE a fun, social experience whether you are together with friends or wherever they are located from Limerick to London.
As well as 24 live streaming channels, Sky Player offers thousands of hours of on-demand programmes, making it the most comprehensive web-based on-demand service available from any UK and Ireland broadcaster. There are over 400 movies to watch at anytime from Sky Movies, over a thousand sporting highlights from Sky Sports, and hundreds of other programming highlights spanning entertainment, drama, comedy, music, documentaries and kids.
To watch Sky Player on Xbox 360, customers will need an Xbox LIVE Gold membership. Non– Sky Direct to Home (DTH) customers will also require a monthly subscription which starts at €18 per month to Sky Player’s Base Entertainment Pack. Customers who want to watch Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and Xtra, ESPN and the Sky Movies channels will be able to add these channels to their Base Entertainment Pack for an additional cost. In addition to the live channels, customers will also have access to on-demand programmes from channels they subscribe to.
Existing Sky customers with Xbox Live Gold membership will be able to access Sky Player’s on-demand content in line with the channels they are able to access through their core Sky TV subscription. Customers with Sky Multiroom are additionally able to access live channels for no extra charge.
Sky Player is the latest addition to Xbox LIVE’s ever increasing range of entertainment. From enjoying high definition blockbuster movies, watching the best music videos, video chatting to friends, or playing games with people wherever they are, Xbox LIVE offers the best entertainment whether you’re into gaming or not.
A Sky Player retail bundle pack including 1 month Sky Player Subscription (Sky Sports Pack), Media Remote and 3 month Gold Membership Subscription Card will be available from stores priced at €39.99.
Orla Sheridan, Country Manager, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft Ireland, commented: “Today our customers enjoy film, music, videos and games on Xbox 360 and TV is another significant step forward in our entertainment vision. And now Xbox owners will have the variety and volume of entertainment along with unique services such as the avatar community which allow you to share, celebrate and chat – it is clear that Xbox 360 is taking entertainment beyond the living room with unique social interactive entertainment experiences.”
Mark Deering, Director, Sky Ireland added: “Today’s launch marks the first time premium live television is available through a broadband-connected games console, helping transform the way entertainment fans watch TV. At Sky, we believe in innovating for customers so they can enjoy the content they love how they want. Whether that’s through their Sky set-top box, computer screen, Xbox 360 or mobile phone, customers have never enjoyed more choice, control and flexibility.”
David Mercer, Principal Analyst – Digital Consumer Practice at Strategy Analytics comments: “The introduction of Sky Player on Xbox is an exciting development for both companies. For BSkyB it offers further evidence that its future subscriber growth is not dependent on its traditional satellite set-top box strategy; and for Microsoft it is further confirmation that the Xbox is on its way to becoming not just a games console, but rather a complete home entertainment system.”