Sky Glass is Sky’s own branded Smart TV, built on the same Comcast Global Technology Platform behind Sky Q, Xfinity X1 and other key Comcast group customer premise equipment. Without a satellite tuner, this television is aimed at a streaming-only market, and it means that in a Sky Glass living room, all the Sky-aggregated content is streaming video.
This has several implications for Sky Media, the Sky sales house that represents all Sky channels, third-parties including ViacomCBS and has addressable TV partnerships with the UK’s other biggest sales houses, ITV Media (ITV) and 4Sales (Channel 4). “The first opportunity is that every piece of content on Glass can be addressable,” Patrick Béhar, Chief Business Officer at Sky Media, pointed out at The Future of TV Advertising last month. This is helped by the fact that recordings are stored in the network.
“Suddenly you move from a world where only a portion of the content is targeted to one where everything is targeted advertising,” Béhar continued. That is important because targeted inventory has higher CPMs.”
Sky Glass will enable faster in-flight optimisation of campaigns because the data will be available faster, the Sky executive continued. “That is something our [content and advertising] partners are interested in.”
Shoppable advertising (where consumers can buy brands/products they have seen in shows, directly through the TV) should be easier on this platform, he reckons, and Béhar hailed the brand safety of this Smart TV environment.
Automatic content recognition (ACR), where a television recognises what someone watches through the pixels hitting the glass, is not required, Béhar said, as Sky knows what people are watching through their direct, opted-in, GDPR compliant subscriber relationship.
Sky Glass and its all-digital delivery of television will not influence how much advertising will be sold programmatically or made available for self-serve buying systems, either. Béhar made it clear that these features are platform-independent for Sky.
Sky “is going to push the boundaries of what television advertising does” using Sky Glass, and the company is discussing the possibilities with channel partners like ITV and Channel 4, he told the London conference.
When it comes to advertising, one significant potential change created by Sky Glass is that Sky will gain priority access inside at least some ‘free-to-air’ homes in the same way that other Smart TV makers have. This would probably apply to only a small subset of Sky Glass homes, so the market opportunity depends on how many Sky Glass sets are sold.
As you can read separately, consumers buy the Sky Glass television set outright or using monthly installments across 2-4 years, yet the Sky television subscription is on a month-to-month contract. This presents the possibility that consumers take the TV content/aggregation package with Sky Glass but later unsubscribe, leaving them with a different relationship – where Sky is ‘just’ a television set provider to that home.
Smart TV makers who sell devices but not content, like Samsung, are already curating free-to-view, ad-supported streaming services and offering ad sales for those channels/services. In theory, if a household ends its Sky content/aggregation subscription, Sky could take up a similar role – representing free-to-view content owners that are not sitting behind a Pay TV subscription wall.
There is no suggestion that Sky will pursue this as an opportunity, but when asked if it was of interest, Béhar declined the chance to trash the idea. He simply said: “There is a market for free-to-air [broadcast] plus streamers [as witnessed in most Smart TVs on the market, where these content groups are both presented via the user interface].”