Comcast’s Sky launches streaming TV in Britain
Dana Strong, Sky Group CEO at the launch of Sky Glass, the new streaming TV with Sky inside.
Joe Maher | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
LONDON — Comcast’s European pay TV offering Sky has launched a smart television called Sky Glass.
The product will allow customers to stream Sky TV and other content over the internet without the need for the Sky Q set-top box or a satellite dish, Sky said.
It’s the biggest hardware announcement that Sky, which competes with Netflix and Amazon on content, has made since it was acquired by Philadelphia-based Comcast in 2018 for $39 billion.
The TV, announced at an event in London on Thursday, will be available in the U.K. from Oct. 18 before launching in other European markets next year.
“Sky Glass is the streaming TV with Sky inside, providing the total integration of hardware, software and content,” said Dana Strong, group chief executive of Sky, in a statement.
The TV, which comes after the launch of Apple TV and the Amazon Fire dongle, comes in five colors and three sizes: small 43 inches, medium 55 inches and large 65 inches.
The smallest option will be priced from £13 ($17.70) per month in the U.K., while the medium option will be an additional £4 a month and the largest will be an extra £8. They can also be bought outright for £649, £849 and £1,049, respectively.
One caveat is that customers must also pay an additional £26 a month at least for access to Sky’s content through the television.
Other services such as Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Peloton and Spotify can also be accessed through the TV, Sky said.
Sky Glass, which can be turned on by saying “Hello Sky,” has a 4K Ultra HD screen that shows over 1 billion colors, the company said.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in an interview with Sky News that aired Thursday that it’s an “offensive” move, as opposed to a defensive one.
Sky Glass is “all the technology that Comcast and Sky have been working on for over a decade,” Roberts said.
He added: “All the wires are gone. All the boxes are gone. You can talk to it. It tells you what you want to see. It shows it to you right away. You can switch from music to exercise to television to news.”
A new 4K smart camera will be launched for Sky Glass in 2022 that supports chat, gaming and workouts, Sky said.
Paolo Pescatore, a technology, media and telecoms analyst at PP Foresight, told CNBC that the “end of the TV set-top box is finally here.”
He said the prospect of getting the premium Sky experience without a satellite dish will make the service “far stickier” for households.
It also opens new revenue opportunities with higher margins for Sky, Pescatore said, adding that there’s an opportunity for Sky to introduce “dual and triple play bundles” that include fast fiber and gigabit connectivity.
“It’s hard for rivals to compete head on given Sky’s dominance in TV and position as an aggregator of key streaming services,” Pescatore said.
Some consumers have been put off buying TVs with too much software built into them in recent years as the hardware can struggle to keep up with software updates that demand more processing power.
Sky said Sky Glass has been built so that it can be syndicated and deployed by other telecom and subscription TV operators.
The Foxtel Group, an Australian subscription TV firm, will be the first syndication partner, it added.
Disclosure: Comcast owns CNBC’s parent NBCUniversal and Sky.