Sky to Beef Up Your HDi Storage in Time for New HD Channels

Sky is poised to triple the HD recording storage of its My Sky HDi PVRs.

It’s not known when the new 1TB models will be offered to subscribers – or how Sky will roll out the changeover.

Will it cost more? Will subscribers be able to transfer recordings?

Whatever the logistics, expect Sky to launch its new uber-box around the rugby World Cup, which will see My Sky HDi go into overdrive in many homes, and before the satcaster unveils two more HD channels (which it will promote during the Cup).

Currently, My Sky HDi has about 320GB of storage, which was double that of its SD predecessor, My Sky.

Nearly three years after its launch, it remains the best of the PVRs aligned with a platform.

It may not boast all the gee-whizz functionality of TiVo or the slick interface of T-Box, but it’s the simplest to use and the most responsive – which is why half of Sky’s 230,000-plus HDi subscribers opt for it without the HD package.

However, with TV One, TV2 and TV3 cranking up their HD content, and Sky planning to offer eight exclusive HD channels by Christmas, its usefulness always was going to be limited by its skimpy storage (especially when half of it is reserved for downloads).

Sky is being coy about its new HD channels. Chances are one will be an HD upgrade of an existing service, probably Discovery, and the other will be a new format that Sky will programme in-house.

It would be too much to hope for a Sky NZ version of BSkyB’s Sky Atlantic in the UK, an HD channel dedicated to top US cable dramas, predominantly from HBO.

Yet this is precisely the kind of distinctive and compelling content Sky should be offering when free-to-air TV foregoes this endangered programming species or relegates it to off-peak.

While the popularity of Prime’s Downton Abbey shows there is an appetite for quality drama, today’s best examples of the genre are being made for the likes of HBO, Showtime and AMC.

Some do turn up on FTA in primetime — TV3’s Californication, Nurse Jackie, Sons of Anarchy, The Big C; TV One’s The Pacific, Generation Kill – but others:

  • are consigned to the late shift (Prime’s Mad Men and Weeds, TV2’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage);
  • languish in limbo (Justified, Game of Thrones, TV One’s The Tudors, Four’s Breaking Bad);
  • are too smart for their dumbed-down environments (The Box’s Dexter);
  • go direct to DVD because broadcasters won’t buy them (Treme, Bored to Death).

Just imagine if there was one channel that showcased these series in HD, along with telemovies, documentaries, re-runs of classics like The Sopranos and Deadwood, and hot-off-the-satellite airings of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (neither of which, inexplicably, screen here on Sky’s Comedy Central, even though they’re staples of its US namesake).

Although FTA rights would complicate the availability of some content, most of it should be able to be secured for a pay window, especially in the case of HBO, which isn’t aligned with TVNZ or MediaWorks.

Sky’s growth has outstripped that of other pay operators – it’s now in more than 50% of households.

But if it’s to maintain that momentum, it will need to offer not only more affordable and flexible subscription deals but also a wider range of content beyond sports, movies and SD channels comprising largely FTA re-runs.

Quality and diversity have to become as important as quantity – and not just for subscribers willing to pay extra for services like the Rialto and Arts channels.

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3 Responses to “Sky to Beef Up Your HDi Storage in Time for New HD Channels”

  1. “Sky’s growth has outstripped that of other pay operators – it’s now in more than 50% of households.”

    Only because there is no sports on FTA in NZ as they do overseas as Sky has a basic monopoly on anything that’s worth watching. Roll on IPTV but I suspect that they are trying to corner that as well. I had great hopes for TiVo when they arrive they they have done virtually nothing about online services..

  2. Great post Phil. I’m excited about Sky’s HD offering. ESPN looks fantastic as of 1 June!

  3. A channel that shows content from HBO, Showtime, AMC, FX, USA and other smaller networks is my televisual dream. I would choose that over a third season of Pushing Daisies, which is a big deal. Sometimes living in New Zealand is the pits for a TV fan.

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