I am and have been a Sky subscriber for several years now. I actually subscribe to Sky+ which is Sky’s Personal Video Recorder. This allows me to record programmes for TV to watch later or even pause live TV while I’m watching it to go and make a cup of tea perhaps, or even attend a callout. Sky has a neat feature called “Series Link” which allows you to tell it to record all the episodes of a TV series.

This has revolutionised my TV viewing habbits. I no longer watch what’s known as “linear TV” – that is, switch on, pick a channel and watch. Instead, I come home, turn the TV on, bring up the PVR’s recorded programmes menu, pick something I want to watch and enjoy it. I can fast-forward through the commercials and enjoy what I want to enjoy when I want to enjoy it.

Add to this the fact that Sky have an online interface where I can browse the TV Guide online and remotely chose a programme to record, it’s really brought my TV viewing into my control. So when Sky recently announced Sky Anytime – their Video on Demand service, I was not only interested from a consumer point of view, but since I might have to implement this at some point, I’m interested from a professional perspective.

Technically, this is a slick product. Download the client, and although it opens in fullscreen, it’s obviously configured for a 4:3 ratio screen, not my widescreen laptop. No matter, I have a look anyway. Very slick, the whole thing looks very nice, it’s quite a simple interface and it gives some great information.

So why did I uninstall it tonight? I have a basic package – I don’t pay for Premium movies nor Sport packages on my Sky subscription. So seeing as their VoD service is aligned with their normal subscription, I didn’t expect to get the extra content for free. What I did expect was to be able to pay for a programme individually – I don’t want to upgrade to all the movie channels – but you can’t do that. Gah. Box Office content (their normal pay-per-view content) is still PPV.

Moving on, I start browsing the content that I do subscribe to – and to my surprise, it’s chargeable. What? I’ve already paid for this, why do I have to pay it again to download it to my PC?

Now to be fair, if I used the VoD interface through my set-top-box, I’d get content I subscribed to for free. But, and here’s the clincher, you don’t get the same content through the two interfaces – and you still have to ‘upgrade’ to a more expensive package to view movies instead of a PPV approach.

I’ve uninstalled the client now. The last straw was that the “feedback” link just directs to the anytime front page with no obvious way of giving feedback. If anyone from Sky reads this (unlikely) then here’s a few suggestions.

1. Make the content I’ve already subscribed to free – I’ve paid to watch it once, why should I want to pay £2.50 per programme to watch it through VoD?

2. If it’s content from a channel I don’t subscribe to – give me the option to upgrade or buy it on a PPV basis. I saw a film tonight I want to watch, but I don’t fancy paying for an upgrade – but I’d pay say £2 instead of renting it on DVD.

Let’s face it VoD is nice, but it’s basically competing with video rental shops – it’s just got more content.

So, thanks Sky, but not for me.

Comments are closed.