Our favorite UK satellite service, Sky, has made the brave move to step into the truly digital frontier. The company has announced a plan that is already near completion to bring its entertainment to subscribers' PCs, PocketPCs, iPods, and cell phones.
According to VNUnet
, the television giant plans to offer these services to a variety of different subscriber levels at no additional charge. For instance, those who subscribe to at least two premium channels will be able to download full feature films and sports highlights in various formats. Other services will soon be available to provide newscasts for the iPod, and a full set of content specifically for the newer mobile phones, which are loaded with the Intervideo software we discussed in our CES coverage.
The first version of the service will be free to all Sky members with a monthly subscription of more than 40 quid. This will allow you to download both movies and sports clips, which they hope to have over 2,000 of by release. To receive an either/or package, your subscription must be at least 34 quid.
What was not discussed was Sky's plans to protect the copyrights on these products, and you can bet that they will have some form of security in place. It will be interesting to see how Sky handles its DRM woes, which will no doubt be a hot issue. Currently, the plan is to simply invalidate the video within 30 days, probably by requiring a special codec to be downloaded each time that the movie plays. The DRM issue is complicated by the proposed cross-platform compatibility - it's no good using Apple DRM on a Windows Pocket PC and vice versa!
Obviously, this is some great news for those of us who love the idea of a direct-download HTPC. But with so many questions still unanswered and the hint of a close release date, I wonder how long it will take to work the bugs out of the system.
The Sky plan is part of a rumoured expansion of the Rupert Murdoch digital empire in 2006. Murdoch also owns MySpace.com
, which is rumoured to be getting a multimedia upgrade early this year.
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