BBC Sounds App Added to Sky Q

A new app has been added to the Sky Q connected satellite platform. BBC Sounds allows users to access live radio, music mixes, playlists, and podcasts produced by the BBC.

The app is now available to all Sky Q customers, and can be launched using the voice control remote by saying “Launch BBC Sounds”.

Among the functions of the app is the ability to pick up where they left off on other devices. Users can subscribe to shows so they don’t miss an episode, and bookmark their favourites.

The deal expands on existing collaboration between the BBC and Sky, which saw iPlayer launch on Sky Q towards the end of 2019.

Amazon Prime on Freesat and New Partnershipe With Sky

The Amazon Prime Video app is to be added to the latest generation of Freesat boxes, providing another way for Prime Video customers to access the service. New customers will be able to sign-up via the app, and receive a 30 day free trial. The addition will enhance the hybrid offering, which includes a large selection of free-to-air channels delivered via satellite.

Sky and Amazon have also unveiled a new partnership, which will see Prime Video added to Sky and Now TV devices across Europe, including the UK and Ireland. In a return move, Now TV will be added to selected Fire TV devices and Smart TVs.

This means that Sky customers will be able to access all Premier League football matches shown live via their Sky Q box, with matches from BT Sport, Prime Video, and Sky Sports all being available via the platform. However, to do this a subscription will be required to all three services, which may be a costly exercise.

More New Features for Sky Q

Sky has unveiled another raft of new features for its Sky Q platform, which combines satellite TV with on-demand and catch-up services.

Notable features include movies in high-dynamic range (HDR), which offers better picture quality.

Viewers will now be able to watch recordings, on demand content and access apps when satellite signal is lost due to adverse weather conditions.

There are also more commands which can be used with the voice search function, including “Made for Laughter lovers” which searches for comedy programmes.

ITV Regions Going HD on Freesat and Sky

All ITV regions will soon be available in HD (high definition) on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms. The official launch of new regional HD service takes place on the Tuesday 20th October (2020).

This means a fully regionalised ITV HD service will soon be available to viewers in England, the Scottish Borders, and Wales. Until now, only some regions had a HD version of ITV on satellite.

As a result, ITV HD will move to the more prominent channel number 103 on HD compatible equipment.. On Freesat, ITV HD is currently on channel 111, whilst on Sky in regions with a HD feed ITV HD is on channel 176.

Viewers with older SD (standard definition) equipment will continue to find the SD version of ITV on 103.

Sky Q Gains Netflix in HDR

Netflix shows in HDR (high dymanic range) quality can now be found on Sky Q, joining a growing collection of HDR content.

HDR content includes some Sky Nature shows, alongside other Sky originals including Cobra and Save Me Too. Subscribers to Disney + have access to Disney content in HDR.

The Secret Garden is the first Sky Cinema original film to be made available in HDR. Live sport in HDR is also expected next year (2021).

Record Audience for Sky Sports

Thanks to a large amount of live sport on the 4th October (2020), Sky Sports have achieved a record audience.

In figures published by Sky Sports,  Sky Sports’ averaged 933,000 throughout the day, accounting for a 11.7% audience share.

3.3 million viewers tuned in at the peak, which occurred just before 5pm, which was a 25% audience share.

Sky Sports Cricket on YouTube

From today (21st September 2020), Sky Sports is streaming all 5 matches of the T20 Women’s Cricket series between England and the West Indies for free.

The coverage is available on the Sky Sports YouTube channel, in addition to live coverage on the Sky Sports Cricket Channel.

This is the schedule:

  • 21st September: 1st Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm
  • 23rd September: 2nd Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm
  • 26th September: 3rd Vitality IT20 at 1pm
  • 28th September: 4th Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm
  • 30th September: 5th Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm

Sky Arts Now on Freeview

As previously reported, Sky Arts has now gone free-to-air. The channel is available on Sky, Freesat, Freeview, and Virgin Media, and shows arts and culture based programmes.

Sky Arts is now available on Freeview channel 11, and has achieved a prominent position on the EPG due to number swapping with other Sky owned channels.

This means that the channel is close to channels from public service broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, who already show arts and culture based programmes.

All September Premier League Matches to Be Televised

With Covid-19 still forcing matches to be played behind closed doors, it has been confirmed that all September Premier League football matches will be shown live on TV.

Sky and BT Sport had already selected to show 17 matches, with a further 11 to also now be shown. Of these, Sky will show a further six, BT Sport will show a further three, with Amazon Prime and the BBC to show one each.

The BBC have confirmed that they will be showing Leicester City’s home fixture against Burnley, on 20th September (2020) with kick-off at 7pm.

It has not been confirmed if more Championship, League 1, and League 2 games will be televised.

Merit Ownership Change

It is being reported that the recently launched Merit has had its license transferred from ITV to Sky.

Under Freeview rules, channel operators cannot transfer or sell channel numbers. It appears that to get around this, ITV have created Merit in order to transfer the channel number to Sky.

Sky are planning on launching Sky Arts as a free to air channel, and Merit’s channel number could be used for the new Freeview version of the channel, possibly being combined within the bandwidth currently used by Sky owned challenge.

At this time, any potential development is simply speculation. Another scenario, given that Merit has focused on food, home, and gardening programmes, is that Sky may be planning on launching their own food or home related channel. Merit could end up forming the basis of this.

Although Merit launched on Freeview only, the channel has been broadcasting on satellite using CITV downtime, although did not join the Sky or Freesat EPG.

There are likely to be more developments in the Merit story.

Update: 23/08/2020. I’ve since learnt that Sky Arts is to take channel number 11, meaning Sky Pick would take 34 as this would be the highest Sky owned channel number. It is still unclear what will happen to Challenge.