While all eyes have been on the content that’s about to disappear from older Sky SD satellite receivers, Sky has been quietly reducing the functionality of not just SD receivers but also its once flagship Sky+ HD box.
This week, a number of interactive services that were previously delivered to older receivers were removed. The data streams ceased broadcasting via satellite on Wednesday afternoon.
These services harked back to the days when Sky delivered applications via satellite with the receivers phone line connection acting as a back channel.
Some interactive services were removed long ago, but this week’s changes withdraws some of the more basic functionality of a sky satellite receiver including Sky+ HD.
When navigating to the Services menu on Sky+ HD, a visit to the help and support menu will result in no help. Instead, users will see a message saying interactive services are no longer available. You’ll get the same message if you try to visit ‘Get Sky products’ in the services menu.
Other functionality that allowed customers to manage their subscription or upgrade channels via the press of a button has also been discontinued. Instead, affected users are invited to Sky’s website to complete the transaction.
While viewers with Sky+ HD will still be able to watch TV channels on their receiver going forward, the situation is more complex for users of even older rereceivers. Older receivers are SD-only which means they’ll begin to lose channels in the new year, most notably the BBC’s channels. That’s in addition to the loss of any previously available functionality.
Only Sky Q will provide full access to all Sky services on satellite going forward and as Sky Q relies on the Internet to obtain interactive functions, it’s not affected by this week’s switch off of various Interactive Data streams.
In terms of functionality, the writing has been on the wall for some time. New apps were not made available on Sky+ HD. But now Sky has started to withdraw existing services.
Earlier this year Sky opted to broadcast extra streams from the US open online only – that meant that viewers using older receivers lost out on extra coverage. That’s despite the fact that Sky Sports still offers some extra streams via satellite and could have done so for the US Open tennis.
As Sky+ HD boxes are immune to the forthcoming SD switch off, the move by Sky to quietly withdraw interactive services can be seen as a nudge to try and get customers to upgrade.
It’s in Sky’s interests for them to do so as supporting two different device platforms is more costly for them. And once upgraded, they’ll be able to upsell the customer various extras. For example access to additional streaming services on Sky Q or access to ad-skipping functionality on Sky Stream.
PICTURED: Sky Interactive message. COPYRIGHT: Sky plc.