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    BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

    This is a discussion on BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat within the Sky news and announcements forums, part of the SkyUser Announcements category; BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat - Telegraph 'Project Ethan' includes cloud-based recording and ultra-HD ...

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      BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat - Telegraph
      'Project Ethan' includes cloud-based recording and ultra-HD technolog

      BSkyB is preparing a major overhaul of its set-top box technology to address the threat to its subscription business from internet-based television services from American giants such as Amazon, Apple and Google.

      A special unit has been set up within the company under the name “Project Ethan” to develop an entirely new system that will aim to make it easier for customers to access programmes on any device, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

      For instance, Project Ethan is understood to include plans for television recorded using the Sky+ service to be stored in a central data centre rather than on set-top box hard disks. The recordings in “the cloud” will be accessible via smartphones and tablets, or on internet-connected televisions outside the living room.

      For both recorded and on-demand video, the new software will make it possible for viewers pause on their main television and then pick up where they left off on another device, and vice-versa. Sources said BSkyB, which formerly referred to the investment as “Project 2016”, could roll out the system to millions of customers as soon as two years from now.

      The multi-screen technology would also allow BSkyB to extend the reach and sophistication of its recently-launched targeted advertising service. In one possible scenario, retailers could target viewers in a given postcode on their sofa then follow up with a special offer delivered to their smartphone via the Sky app.

      Project Ethan is being led by Andrew Olson, BSkyB’s director of product development. He joined the company at the end of 2012 from the American cable giant Comcast, where he was chief operating officer of its “converged products group”, involved in development of a similar service that is already on the market.

      BSkyB is also working on software and hardware in preparation for the shift to ultra-high definition television, known as 4K. The first screens capable of displaying such pictures, which are four times sharper than the current high definition standard, are already available and BSkyB has successfully trialled broadcasts via its existing satellite infrastructure.

      As well as the software developed under Project Ethan, subscribers to a new ultra-high definition Sky package would need a new set-top box, which is understood to be in the works. Mr Olson last year took a board seat at ViXS, a specialist Canadian semiconductor company that this month announced a new microchip that is “a high-performance, yet cost-effective, solution for the next wave of set-top boxes, gateways and other consumer premise equipment solutions aiming to deliver ultra-high definition 4K content service”.

      A BSkyB spokesman said: “Innovation is at the heart of Sky’s business and we are constantly looking at ways of enhancing our service for customers.”

      BSkyB is already investing in preparation for the overhaul. It is spending up to £70m this financial year to increase the proportion of customers with the latest Sky+HD set-top box, connected to the internet. At the last count 4.4 million of the more than 10 million Sky television households had the equipment necessary for Project Ethan to be deployed.

      BSkyB is not the only satellite broadcaster with a stake in its development of internet technology. The company, 39pc owned by 21st Century Fox, also supplies set-top boxes to Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, which are wholly-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s television group.

      All traditional pay-TV providers are wary of the threat to their businesses from internet giants using improving broadband infrastructure to deliver programming “over the top” at lower prices. Google and Amazon have already introduced devices to connect televisions to their streaming services and Apple is has been rumoured to be preparing a big push into the living room for years.

      Netflix is meanwhile busy signing deals with cable operators, including Virgin Media, who would rather offer it as part of a subscription than lose customers to it. Virgin Media is also testing a cloud-based recording system along the lines of Project Ethan with its set-top box provider TiVo.

      BSkyB’s sporting rival BT is also investing in improving its set-top box technology. Along with its partner TalkTalk, it recently agreed to increase its spending on the YouView consortium.

      BSkyB is due to report third quarter results on Thursday. Analysts expect operating profit for the first nine months to fall 9pc to £907m as a result of spending on connected set-top boxes and sports rights. Revenues are expected to rise more than 5pc to £5.68bn, however, as customers spend more on internet-based on-demand services.
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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Dunno why sky wasting money on this when they already have NowTV.all they need do is do is lower there price of it and sort our the licensing issues.
      Last edited by totalwar; 30-04-14 at 10:58 AM.
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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Isn't that one of the reasons why Sky are looking at alternative ways to deliver their TV content?

      The potential for this would mean that you could have an app included with your TV so that you can watch your Sky content in multiple rooms.

      One of the biggest complaints with the Sky+ and Sky+ HD STBs is what about all those recordings when your box fails or gets upgraded. This would allow you to have the content stored in the Cloud.

      Just how much storage space is allocated to each account or how many people can view Sky at the same time would obviously need to be addressed later, but there is a huge scope for a service like this.

      Consider too that you could start watching Blue Bloods in the lounge on the main and switch to a Tablet when commuting to work, starting in the position where you stopped watching on the TV.

      Of course there will be questions about what happens when Sky looses the rights to show something which you have recorded or perhaps if your Direct Debit bounces and you get cut off. This will also discourage people from continuously switching between partners in order to get the current introductory offers from Sky.

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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Streaming is the way watching Content will go. Sky are simply making sure they set the standards they want rather than relying upon inferior standards set by others. Terrestrial broadcasters (BBC/ITV etc) spent a very considerable sum developing YouView only to find that 95% of YouView STB's were either BT or TalkTalk branded and the massive benefit went to 3rd party commercial operations. It's typical of the way BBC/ITV throw away money by not clearly defining their objectives before starting a project - or even worse they do define the objectives but fail to see a project won't deliver them. Good to see Sky are still on the ball and I hope their project delivers the results promised and on time (cf YouView which was so late the BBC changed its initial name of Canvas to YouView to disguise just how many years late it was).

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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      “Project Ethan” to develop an entirely new system that will aim to make it easier for customers to access programmes on any device,

      I would be happy if my multi room sub would let me watch content on one box via the other!
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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      What if they allow us to have more on demand stuff in addition to the DVR? Making everything on demand would probably be more useful than some cloud based DVR especially if you miss a recording and it's not on their current on demand system.

      A lower or at least more flexible price could also help against the 'threat' of VOD.

      And making their DRM so it isn't so strict, for example, Netflix has no device restrictions (just streams) and even works on my rooted devices without issues unlike Sky Go.

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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Sorry I meant to say NowTV you can get it from a box that costs £9.99 and PS3 Xbox Smart TV and so on.

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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Obviously NowTV isn't going to go in a hurry. It is also quite popular with many people out there already.

      From what I understand NowTV is limited to a maximum resolution of 720p. This would be quite unsuitable for those who have a 1080p TV, let alone a 4K or 8K UHD TV.

      Another issue with NowTV is that it recently was swamped due to demand to watch a football match or Game of Thrones. This would need to be addressed, perhaps with a view to us something like an IPTV system.
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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie View Post
      Obviously NowTV isn't going to go in a hurry. It is also quite popular with many people out there already.

      From what I understand NowTV is limited to a maximum resolution of 720p. This would be quite unsuitable for those who have a 1080p TV, let alone a 4K or 8K UHD TV.

      Another issue with NowTV is that it recently was swamped due to demand to watch a football match or Game of Thrones. This would need to be addressed, perhaps with a view to us something like an IPTV system.
      You know sky not going to output there program's in full 4k let alone 8k.Do we get full 1080p now no we get the inferior 1080i.

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      Re: BSkyB plans major overhaul of set-top box to meet Apple threat

      Of course they will use some form of compression mode.

      All the HD providers use different compression modes for their broadcasts, not just Sky. Also I don't see the BBC or ITV broadcasting in 1080p.

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