Is this the MySky of Next Year?
Australian pay-TV operator Foxtel today unveiled its next-generation version of MySky with 4K-UHD streaming capability, voice-command functionality and a detachable 1TB hard drive for recording content.
It’s also smaller than previous Foxtel boxes, has a faster processor with improved navigation and better personalisation features, and comes with a new music streaming service and third-party apps for catch-up, on-demand and SVOD services.
But what really distinguishes the iQ5 box is its plug-and-play convenience: just plug it into the mains, power it on and connect to the Internet.
“The iQ5 not only makes it easier for our existing 1.7 million customers to enjoy the best Foxtel has to offer, this streaming iQ opens up Foxtel’s premium experience to another group of Australians who could not access cable or didn’t want satellite,” Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delany says.
“This latest innovation requires no install, so subscribers can simply plug in and start streaming the best Australian and international sport, acclaimed dramas, blockbuster movies along with our selection of 100 live channels.”
However, a troubling caveat would appear to be the death of 4K content. Foxtel’s struggled with delivering sport in 4K largely because of Australia’s poor Internet infrastructure and the cost of capturing sport in the high resolution.
“When we started with 4K sports and movies the internet definitely couldn’t handle it, and we now think it can,” Delany said at the launch.
“Around Christmas and New Year we’ll be able to introduce on-demand 4K movies, and we have got a couple of great dramas coming up that will be produced in 4K.”
Internet capacity won’t be a problem for a similarly-specified new Sky box in this country. Only last week Chorus announced its largest-ever performance upgrade for New Zealand fibre customers, as its ultra-fast broadband fibre rollout continues to track ahead of schedule.
Chorus CEO JB Rousselot said with 4K TV content becoming more and more widely available, people working more flexibly and online consultations becoming more mainstream, fast fibre speeds are only going to become more important.
In 2011, at the start of UFB, 30Mbps was considered a great broadband speed. In 2015, as Netflix launched in New Zealand, ‘great broadband’ increased to 100Mbps. We recognise that it is now time to shift up a gear again to ensure New Zealanders can take real advantage of the connectivity available to them.
Sky hopes to have its new box ready for customers by mid-2022. Chief executive Sophie Moloney told the NZ Herald the new Android-based box will offer all of its channels over UFB fibre in resolution up to 4K-UHD and include support for third-party apps like Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video and Discovery+.
Sky CEO wants as much app choice as possible, and says the fact the new box will be based on Android will lower development costs, and make it easy for streaming services – including potentially Spark Sport – to come onboard. Moloney said while she wanted as many apps on Sky’s new box as possible as part of its “one remote to rule them all” strategy to become a one-stop aggregator, negotiations had yet to open with Spark over its app’s inclusion, or any possible Sky clip of the ticket.