In an important example of how entire Pay TV services are now being replicated over broadband using streaming video, Sky Italia is making its complete service â€“ meaning the full content line-up including exclusive sports and movies, available to Telecom Italia customers on set-top boxes via the broadband, rather than classic IPTV, network. Hundreds of live TV channels will be streamed using HLS adaptive bit rate streaming. The service includes HD content for the non-satellite homes, as well as the Sky On Demand offering and the popular Restart function that allows customers to go back to the start of a film. This is the first time Sky in Italy has made its whole content line-up available over broadband.
This is a jointly branded service that will be made available to all Telecom Italia Media (TIM) broadband customers, who will get a dedicated My Sky HD decoder. This is a new model of hybrid set-top box, developed by Sky with Pace, the STB manufacturer, and the devices are owned by Sky. This new device can be configured for OTT/DTT (as seen here) or could be deployed separately with satellite and DTT front-ends. Telecom Italia households will sign two separate contracts: one with the telco for broadband and voice (and maybe mobile), the other with Sky for the television. Each company bills its own service.
This service was promised last September when the two companies announced a partnership for mobile distribution of Sky content. They said then that they would set up â€œthe first new generation IPTV in Italyâ€ using Telecom Italiaâ€™s ultra broadband networks. Sky has developed a dedicated infrastructure for the new streaming service, separate to what it uses for other Sky online services, and it is optimized to offer the best video quality in both HD and SD to customers.
For Sky Italia, the deal is part of a strategy for broader-based growth by targeting new segments of the market. Like its counterparts in the UK and Germany, now all part of the same group, Sky in Italy already offers a â€˜Pay TV Liteâ€™ service online, called Sky Online (launched in April 2014). This provides access to a wide selection of Sky content including linear channels, with only a monthly commitment, for viewing on various connected devices. The content includes sports, movies and entertainment.
With the new Telecom Italia partnership, which is notable for the way it uses a Sky-branded set-top box, Sky says it â€œhas opened up significant new headroom for growth in Italy.â€ Andrea Zappia, Chief Executive at Sky Italia declares, â€œThis partnership is a great example of two companies embracing innovation to open up new opportunities for growth. For the very first time, the millions of Italian customers unable to install a dish will be able to enjoy all the benefits of the Sky experience as part of a great value bundled offering.â€
Some Sky content was already available to Telecom Italia customers OTT but only for portable viewing on smartphones and tablets and not via the STB. This is thanks to a deal announced last September covering Sky channels dedicated to UEFA Champions League football and UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers. The content is distributed via TIMâ€™s 3G and 4G networks and fixed broadband using the TIMvision App, costing EUR 5 per month.