Sky Deutschland has announced plans for a new next-generation set-top box with 4K capabilities, as part of its strategy for boosting take-up in the German pay-TV market.
Speaking at a Cisco press lunch at IBC in Amsterdam, Sky Deutschland’s technology SVP Gerry Duffy said a new platform would include 4K and other functionality.
But he admitted that the company had to find new ways to make the 4K experience compelling to viewers.
“While ultra-HD catches headlines at the moment, what it really means for us is a new platform to [roll out] with a new powerful set-top box,” he said. “We can look to the next generation of platforms with Cisco to add extra capability to proposition we give to customers.”
Duffy added that he hoped to be able to use the 4K platform to deliver new features like multiple HD feeds of football matches running simultaneously on screen. He said the ability of ultra HD to screen multiple feeds was as important as the picture resolution.
“It’s not just the picture quality but the other things the platform can do,” he said. “Ultra HD requires a new platform and a powerful engine, opening whole new opportunities,” said Duffy. “That’s where we are working with Cisco at the moment, looking at these next-generation platforms and seeing how we can offer added value.”
He said the company was focusing on OTT and ultra-HD as part of a wider strategy to be the leading player in Germany’s rapidly expanding pay-TV market.
Duffy admitted that Germany has lagged behind other European economies in the expansion of pay-TV, describing its “long, failed history”, that has led to penetration in only 18% of homes, compared with Sky’s 57% in the UK. “The goal for us is to set future strategy for pay-TV in Germany,” he said.
Sky Deutschland said total subscriber numbers now stood at 3.5 million, with 40% of its new subscribers now coming from recommendations.
He said OTT presented “an opportunity to embrace rather than a threat” and said Sky Deutschland had been looking to see how it could exploit new opportunities it presented.