Subscription streaming platform Netflix has joined forces with British satellite broadcaster Sky to create a new integrated experience that lets you directly access content from both platforms on the same interface.
Sky revealed back in March that it was working to make Netflix available to its subscriber base. Now, though, the broadcaster has revealed full details of how the hook-up will work when it goes live in November – and the extent of it really does break new ground.
For starters, Sky is actually building Netflix into its subscription pricing options. It will be introducing two different Netflix-including package options: Ultimate On Demand and Sky Q Entertainment. The first of these will cost £10 a month and give you access to: Sky box sets in HD; two streams on Sky Go; downloads of Sky content; a Netflix Standard subscription; two simultaneous Netflix streams; HD video; downloads to devices where the content allows it.
Note that the UOD package will be available on a 31-day rolling contract basis; you won’t be required to lock yourself into the package for, say, a minimum of six or 12 months.
The Q Experience, meanwhile, costs another £12 on top of the UOD offering, and additionally provides: streaming to Sky Q Mini boxes; side loading (shifting downloads between devices); 4K/UHD video support with Sky shows; a Netflix Premium subscription; four simultaneous Netflix streams; and support for Netflix’s 4K UHD streams.
Note that the UHD features of the Q Experience require you to have a 2TB Sky Q receiver.
Where the Netflix/Sky partnership really gets interesting, though, is in the way Sky is integrating Netflix content into its onscreen user interface. Rather than having to open a separate Netflix app to find links to Netflix content, recommendations for both Sky’s broadcast and Netflix’s streamed shows will share the spotlight on Sky Q’s homepage. Choose a Netflix show from Sky’s menus and the stream will start playing right away; choose a Sky-hosted show and it will start to download to your receiver for playback.
Netflix content will also be included within Sky’s ‘search’ functionality, making it as easy for your Sky box to find Netflix’s Lost In Space as Sky’s live Premier League Football.
In fact, Netflix will in many ways function like just another channel on Sky’s platform – except that it won’t have a dedicated slot on Sky’s TV Guide, of course.
While Sky’s efforts to integrate Netflix into its platform are impressive, though, there is currently a problem that AV fans may find hard to swallow: no high dynamic range support.
Sky has yet to implement support for HDR on its UK broadcasts and hardware, so Netflix shows which would usually play in HDR via Netflix apps built into HDR-capable TVs will only play in standard dynamic range through Sky’s platform.
This isn’t an issue if you don’t have an HDR-capable TV, of course. Plus Sky has already promised to add HDR support in the future. For now, though, I can imagine many AV fans deciding to wait to use Netflix via Sky until HDR comes on line.
Things can get a bit complicated when it comes to Sky’s package and hardware options, so here are a few key facts that may help if you’re thinking that Netflix on Sky sounds like the solution for you.
1. If you’re currently only a Sky+ customer, you’ll need to upgrade to Sky Q to access Netflix through your set top box.
2. For the 4K content, you’ll need a 2TB Sky Q box and a new Sky Q Experience (previously called Q Multiscreen) subscription.
3. If you have an existing Netflix subscription, you can migrate it to the UOD/Sky Q Experience packages without losing existing Netflix profiles and recommendations.
4. you will still be able to watch Netflix on your usual Netflix-supported devices.
5. The Netflix app will be available on the Sky Q platform and Netflix members can sign in using their existing accounts.
6. Payment for the Ultimate On Demand pack will be added to your Sky bill, so you won’t need separate Netflix and Sky invoices.
7. Sky claims that adding Netflix to its platform creates the UK’s biggest on demand TV services, as it brings together the 400 UK and US series Sky has within its Box Set offering with the vast amounts of content available on Netflix.
8. Sky points out that adding Netflix to its platform brings more than 2,000 hours of extra 4K content thanks to Netflix’s commitment to making many of its home-grown shows in 4K.
9. You will need broadband speeds of 20-25Mbps to be sure of a full 4K streaming experience from Netflix.