Sky Channel Shake-Up Another HD Blow


The Zone fades to black today after three years on air, with many of its staples exiting to its replacement, Sky Box Sets, or SD channels Jones! too and the Box.

For instance, season three of Zoo starts 8.30 tonight but in SD on the Box after the first two were in HD on The Zone (Prime dropped the series after only one season and has also quit Jane the Virgin, which is bound for Sky Box Sets).

Other HD series being sidelined to SD channels include:

  • The Librarians (new eps next year on the Box)
  • The Shannara Chronicles (new eps later this year on the Box)
  • the original Heroes (from later next month on the Box)
  • Stargate SG-1 (11.20am weekdays from July 3 on Jones! too)
  • the original X-Files (late-night from July 3 on Jones! too).

Resurfacing on Sky Box Sets, which launches in August, will be:

  • The Strain (season three this year)
  • Channel Zero (season two 2018)
  • Dark Matter (season three this year)
  • The Expanse (season three 2018)
  • Killjoys (season three this year)
  • Teen Wolf (season 6B this year).

Sky Box Sets will be in HD but it will be the same quasi-HD resolution of The Zone, and the sports and Classics and Action movie channels: 1440x1080i instead off 1920x1080i.

Sky compressed these channels so it could squeeze more higher-resolution fare on to its limited bandwidth (ie. five channels on each of the four DVB-S2 muxes instead of four).

But with its set-top box replacement programme nearing an end (which will free up more bandwidth), improving compression technology and the Sky-Vodafone merger at last laid to rest, hopefully we’ll see more channels upgraded to HD, starting with the Box and UK TV (which in August will premiere a series as prestigious as Top of the Lake: China Girl in SD).

Certainly, the launch of Sky Box Sets is a step in the right direction — although it’s laughable that Sky should claim it’s “always been ahead of the curve in terms of premium drama” given how it’s been gazzumped by Lightbox and Netflix on key content and has wasted first-rate fare like Turn and Manhattan in SD on Neon and its pathetic on-demand service.

Meanwhile, top foreign drama series have languished in SD on Rialto, another premium service that’s long overdue for an HD upgrade (and was tipped for the transition around about now).

If Sky was serious about its drama and comedy focus, it would have created a sister channel for SoHo years ago rather than attempted the binge-style Sky Box Sets post-Netflix.

The box-set style programming seems odd for a linear service like Sky’s, given subscribers will have to clean out their MySky hard drives to accommodate entire series whereas on Netflix or Lightbox, they can dip in and out after a few eps and return to where they left off.

Among the highlights announced for August are:

  • Vikings S1-3 (August 1, 8, 15)
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S1 (August 4, 11, 18)
  • Bellevue (August 5)
  • American Gothic (August 22)
  • Mary Kills People (August 26).

Each series or season will start 7.30pm and repeat at least once over the next 24 hours.

“It is entirely dependent on the length of the season,” a spokesperson says. “If a season is six hour-long episodes, it will air approximately four times.

“If it is 12 hour-long episodes, then it may only repeat once. The intention is to provide as many opportunities to watch the box set in 24 hours as the schedule can accommodate.”

Coinciding with the launch of Jones! too tomorrow is a rejig of Jones! programming, with series being stripped weeknights across the schedule (for example, Lovejoy @ 8.35, Maverick @ 9.35 and M*A*S*H @ 10.35).

Jones! too is being scheduled the same way, with Doctor Who @ 7.00, MacGyver @ 7.30, Moonlighting @ 8.30, The Golden Girls @ 9.30, One Day at a Time @ 10.00 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer @ 10.30.

And Sky’s box set mania will continue on Jones! too with weekend/themed marathons of Private Benjamin, Knight Rider, The Good LifeSapphire & Steel, Jeeves & Wooster, Perry Mason and Frasier.

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2 Responses to “Sky Channel Shake-Up Another HD Blow”

  1. I will wait for season 3 of Zoo to appear on Netflix, I’m watching season 2 now 🙂

  2. Good thinking, Trevor — it’s a beautifully produced series that will look much better on Netflix than the Box. I did the same with S3 of Peaky Blinders. Even though it took months to land on Netflix, the wait was worth it compared to its sub-par UK TV presentation.

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