December 26, 2010

Sky Atlantic HD exclusive to Sky

Ads now being broadcast on Sky channels confirm the bad news that Sky Atlantic HD is to be a Sky exclusive at launch next month. Seriously unhappy.


Dan said...

I expected as much. It's a real shame, as so many great US drama shows will now become relatively niche programming in the UK. Maybe people will wait for box-sets, but they'll more likely download via bittorrent. I certainly can't see people signign up to Sky JUST because they have Atlantic.

Nialli said...

I'm hopeful that we will get both SD and HD versions soon after launch. The box sets of many US shows take a while to arrive (still no sign of Boardwalk Empire yet and Mad Men s.4 isn't released until March 2011). It's a real pisser - I wouldn't go as far as to say it's ruined my Christmas but it has hacked me off big time.

Andrew said...

theres only been like 22 days since Boardwalk Empire finished id think there would be a good while before we see a box set for it.
shame about Atlantic but could see it happen as sky wanna keep the upper hand, they will move all the best shows to it an dthat will make our getting sky one HD an empty gesture from sky!

sibod said...

Seriously, OFCOM should force Sky to seperate it's broadcast from it's platform arm so that there is a level playing feild.

How can it be right that Sky can esentially withhold entire channels simply to bolster sales of their own platform?

Exclusively signing the likes of MadMen so that fans of that show have three choices: Wait for it to appear on iTunes, get a box set, or sign up to Sky and get Sky Atlantic.

The alternative is quite simply piracy - and a lot either don't know how or would rather not go down that route.

No other platform seller (BT Vision, Virgin Media, Talk Talk TV, etc) uses these tactics.

Sky have so much power in the PayTV market now that competition simply cannot get away from the fact that if you want to sell PayTV you have to have Sky's channel line up for it to be worthwhile.

With the Virgin TV bouquet now effectively shut down, and Sky buying up all the decent shows from 5, 4, ITV and BBC - what else is there left?

carl said...

Now that Jeff Stelling hosts Countdown, don't bet against that moving to Sky. That would be the final nail.

m said...

Is this the ad? It doesn't say Exclusive on this ad.

Erich said...

Sibod sayz: Seriously, OFCOM should force Sky to seperate it's broadcast from it's platform arm so that there is a level playing feild.

Yeah, seriously. Right after someone forces VM to open up their fibre optic network to the competition.

As for channels and shows, there's nothing keeping VM from bidding on US imports alongside Sky... except their lack of ambition. Sky has since day 1 been the driving force in the growth and evolution of British pay television. If the likes of VM/NTL/Telewest had been the only players around, we would still be watching decade old US shows on our 19" 4:3 sets. Virtually every step forward the various incarnations of VM has made over the years have been in delayed and reluctant response to competition from Sky. It's just a few years ago that VM claimed there was no mainstream interest in HD, while Sky forged ahead and invested millions in an HD platform and line-up, which VM then cried bloody murder about not being allowed to leech, when they finally realized they had missed the boat.

VM have never displayed any interest in investing in something that wasn't just good for themselves, whether it be their fibre optic BB, cable network, TIVO platform, etc. On the one occasion where it looked like they were finally going to get in the game with the creation of Virgin One, all they came up with was a half-arsed re-branded Bravo 3, showing old episodes of Takeshi's Castle and "documentaries" about penis sizes.

While I would love to have the entire Sky line-up on VM, I simply cannot in good conscience support the pathetic, hypocritical whining and leeching demands from VM, which in no way, shape or form are conducive to the future improvement of British pay TV standards.

You want a level playing field? Then get VM to get in the game, as opposed to just reaping the rewards of others from the sidelines.

lee said...

Go Vince Cable!!

Square eyes said...

I have to agree with Erich, at VM we are too slow on the whole, we are a reactive company when we should be proactive. Erich is correct when he says that there is nothing stopping VM from putting bids in for the top programmes, well that was true but since VM sold Virgin 1 where the hell would they show them.

As for the HD channels again just too slow, we knnow which channels can be picked up in HD, so why not approach them and buy these channels?

Anonymous said...

Wait. So. Do we get Sky Atlantic in standard definition ?

If so what the hell are you all making a big deal about it for ? We still get to see the shows it just isnt in a better picture quality.

If we don't get the SD channel, it still isn't the end of the world. We'll just view programs illegally - something it's pushed me to for certain programs. And I'm not afraid of saying that.

As for Virgin opening up their fibre network to Sky, wouldn't that have a negative effect on the capacity of the DOCSIS network ? I'm not an expert on these things, but if there are more ISPs running off a fibre network then surely more users = more congestion ?

Erich said...

Square eyes sayz: ... but since VM sold Virgin 1 where the hell would they show them.
On VOD. I have said for ages that VM's VOD platform has amazing potential, but is currently completely under-developed. VOD should work like a non-linear, pay-only-for-what-you-watch channel. Ask any pay TV customer, and they would tell you that they would much prefer this to the package-based subscription method, where they never watch 90% of the channels anyway. I'm not suggesting completely abandoning linear channels (yet), but VM could use the introduction of TIVO to really market non-linear TV in a big way. Not catch-up seasons with random episodes of old shows. Brand new US import, a new episode each week, but with the convenience of being able to watch it whenever you want on TV, online, on mobiles, etc. It can work, but they need to spend the money on content and properly advertising it to their existing, and more importantly their new customers. BT are actually doing an almost decent job of that with their own comparatively crap platform. VM could do a much better job, if they were prepared to fork out for the proper promotion, the way Sky have done so well with their products.

mercelous said...

If this turns out to be true then I think offcom do need to do something about Sky and their dominance. Look at Sky now, who has the financial clout to compete with them now? They out-bid everyone and bully other other pay tv companies to pay what they they want them to or no deal. Has everyone also forgot that megalamaniac Murdoch is trying to buy Sky completely, Imagine what will happen if he does get the go ahead. They will have the money to destroy everyone in their way and no one will stand a chance. I wouldn't be surprised if they do make Sky Atlantic exclusive to them as they need something to fight with against Tivo. They know Tivo could be a big winner and scouting online forums Sky customers are already saying they are now very tempted to move. I myself being an ex Sky HD customer and fed up with Sky's dominance hope Tivo gives them something to worry about. I love my virgin and will be upgrading to Tivo. Sky's answer in latest articles about Tivo's arrival is 3D which to be honest how many even care about 3D. Virgin have a big winner in Tivo but virgin need to be very cautious if Murdoch comes to town.

Square eyes said...

Oh Nialli

The Tivo box is simply brilliant, wish list is great & the programme recomendation feature is amazing (all based on thumps up or down). The box is faster & the menu set up is much better than the V+, using the catch up is much easier, you just scroll backwards through the TV menu - so simple

only let down is the option to record 1 channel at a time, however this is gong to be fixed with a software update planned for the 1st quarter of 2011.

sibod said...


I have to disagree, VM Have no obligation to open up their cable network - as they are far from a monopoly. They don't have dominant control over Pay TV, Broadband or even fibre optic broadband. BT, on the other hand, are a completely different story. However, even they have plenty of competition. So what precedent is there for Virgin to open up their fibre network when it'd quite simply destroy their core business and undermine their investment, which has yet to be paid of?

Sky on the other hand, dont need that kind of control - they own most of the digital TV market in terms of broadcast, and can recoup any investment very quickly. It's purely about limiting the rivals ability to actually compete fairly that's their game, pure and simple.

As for bidding for TV shows - have a look at what kind of tactics Sky use to buy up popular US tv shows. Outbidding the likes of Channel4, the BBC, and the like - who have plenty more clout than even Virgin.

Virgin One suffered from lack of budget because a) It was a fledgling channel and B) It started up long after Pay TV was already established. It had to compete with the likes of Sky 1 and all the terrestrial multichannel (ITV, BBC, 5, 4 etc). Sky, when launched, was on it's own - and had the market all to itself for a long time, and was the biggest guerilla for a long time too.

Virgin need more subscribers to get the money in to buy up TV rights, and all the while Sky has a bigger budget they can pay more, and thus eliminate anyones ability to pay more than them....

Having a massive media company behind them to raise capital also helped a lot!

Erich said...

Sibod, I find the argument that Sky should be penalized for having more money than VM quite absurd. As you pointed out, VM have been quite happy to invest in broadband, similar to how Sky have invested in TV, and VM's decision to drop out of the channel battle, so they can whine about Sky's supposed "monopoly", is disturbingly similar to how some lazy, work-shy people quit their jobs, because they know they can probably make more money by being on the dole and let honest, hard-working people pay for their flatscreens, Iphones and Xboxes.

As you pointed out, Sky spend a lot of money acquiring content, and that's an investment they have as much right to protect as VM do with their broadband investment.

If you don't like capitalism, I hear China is nice this time of year, although I'm not sure you will like their channel line-up. ;)

sibod said...


Maybe I'm not being clear in my argument here.

Sky were 1st on the scene, and thus got to where they are by becoming a gorilla in Pay TV.

One way to compete is to provide the best platform that one can buy - which is the route Virgin are going down. Tivo, 50meg/100meg+ broadband with decent bundled mobile and Phone are examples of this. Or the Sky3d channel.

The other is to spend lots of money acquiring all the content you can and shutting the competing channels out so that you have exclusivity, which is what Sky have done with the newer Sky Sports HD channels and Sky Atlantic.

It is extremely expensive to compete with Sky, as the BBC, ITV, and the other big terrestrial broadcasters have shown many times (Premier league? Cricket? Lost? to name but a few.)

I find it mildly patronising in the way you suggest that I'm championing Communism, not to mention your Daily Mail like stereotyping of the unemployed in aid of your argument.

I would argue exactly he same had virgin secured the rights to various pieces of high profile content and then stopped Sky from being able to show it, but the fact is, they didn't - and instead are refocussing on the platform - which is the bit that should make a difference to you or anyone else.

Moroboshi said...

So Mad Men goes from free to all, to locked down to Murdoch's network. Just another reason to hate Murdoch, as if any more were needed.

At least Mad Men, as with every TV show, is available on line seconds after it's US broadcast, and Murdoch won't see a penny.

Erich said...

But with VM's ridiculous new bandwidth caps and throttling, even on 50mbit connections, the entire season will probably be out on DVD before you can finish downloading it. :P

Anonymous said...

Aaah Erich see now you've just ran into a brick wall.

Traffic management doesn't apply after when I'm downloading a 30GB file on my TWENTY meg connection, I start it at 9:30pm and it's done by around 1:30am, maybe earlier.

Additionally, there is no traffic management on the 50 meg (XXL) package.

Anonymous said...

Also forgot to say..even if I start downloading at 8PM (Maybe 8:30PM) I can still do it in 3-4 hours. This is because of the fact that on 20meg I can download 3.5GB from hours 4PM to 9PM without being throttled. When I AM throttled it's only 75% - so I sill download at 5Mbps: which is still higher than most Sky & BT Connections.

Erich said...

Aaah Erich see now you've just ran into a brick wall.
Yes, the brick wall of misinformation I so often encounter on the interwebs. No matter, though, I shall break through it as easily as I always do.

Traffic management doesn't apply after 9pm...
So you get full speed for a few hours before bedtime. Nice. :)

Additionally, there is no traffic management on the 50 meg (XXL) package.
Yes, there is

Don't let the steel door of truth hit you on your way out. ;)

I'm curious, though, when it says 75%, does it mean you're reduced to 75% of your normal speed, or do they reduce it by 75%?

Square eyes said...


"Yes, the brick wall of misinformation I so often encounter on the interwebs. No matter, though, I shall break through it as easily as I always do."

Sorry to say that your wrong about the XXL broadband, it is the upload speed only that is throttled back not the download speed, this remain unaffected.

Read the bit below from our site.

Customers with Broadband size: XXL (50Mb) – your downstream usage excluding file sharing traffic (see below) remains unaffected and we'll soon be increasing your upload speeds from 1.5Mb to 5Mb. However during peak times we'll need to slow you back to 1.75Mb if your upload usage is particularly high.

See upload - not download

Don't let the steel door of truth hit you on your way out. :o( - like that one

Erich said...

"your downstream usage excluding file sharing traffic (see below) remains unaffected"

Surely that means file sharing is throttled right? That's what I was talking about, when he mentioned downloading Mad Men episodes on the US schedule from the web.

I actually thought it was only file sharing and usenet that was throttled even on the lower tiers. Does this mean there's a universal throttling in place below the XXL tier for all traffic? And I'm still curious to know if the 75% means reduced by or to 75%? To 75% would not be entirely unreasonable, but by 75% would be a complete joke for a service that claims to deliver exactly the speed it says on the package.

Square eyes said...

File sharing or p2p can actually be hiddens so it does not show what you are doing.

When you do get traffic managed it means that your downstream is reduced by 75% (example 20mb down to 5mb), but this is only for 5hrs and once a day.

Nialli said...

Gone a wee bit off topic here chaps. Back on topic: Sky is advertising Atlantic HD as "Free to Sky TV customers taking the Variety Pack. Free to other Sky TV customers until 31st August 2011." Are they planning to keep it as a Sky Exclusive until then too I wonder? Makes sense - six months before offering it to the other platforms