LONDON and REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 4, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. and BSkyB announce that Microsoft Silverlight and PlayReady technologies are enabling Sky Player TV, Sky’s online TV service. Launched today, the service offers access to a range of leading pay TV entertainment as part of an online-only subscription. The new version of Sky Player TV, which in addition continues to be offered on a bonus basis to Sky’s DTH (direct-to-home) customers, now delivers live linear channels and video-on-demand content to Windows-based PCs and, for the first time, includes live channel support for Macs.
Sky Player allows consumers with a broadband connection in the U.K. and Ireland to subscribe to watch a package of channels from Sky on their computer without the need for a dish or aerial. Sky Player TV has expanded the content available to include live streaming of linear channels including all the Sky Sports channels, Sky News, The Disney Channel, National Geographic and British Eurosport — with enhanced video quality using bitrates of up to 1.8 Mbps.
“Microsoft Silverlight and PlayReady allowed us to build and launch this innovative service quickly, easily and in a package that provides consumers with even more flexibility in how they engage with Sky content,” said Griff Parry, director of On-Demand, BSkyB. “As technologies that can reliably enable the rich delivery of high-quality protected content to both Windows-based PCs and Macs, the use of Silverlight and PlayReady was key in helping us provide our customers with more choice and control over their viewing.”
Microsoft Silverlight, the next-generation cross-browser platform for delivering rich media through the Web, uses Silverlight DRM powered by PlayReady to enable the protected delivery of rich content experiences over an Internet connection, with reach to both Windows-based PC and Mac users. The combination of these two technologies and close collaboration with Microsoft enabled Sky to bring the enhanced Sky Player TV service to market with greater speed and efficiency. Sky also took advantage of the rich programming capabilities in Silverlight to build an electronic program guide (EPG) in the Sky Player TV that replicates the look, feel and functionality of Sky’s familiar EPG, but with the benefits of operating with an interactive, connected environment.
“We brought technologies like Silverlight and PlayReady to market with this type of immersive experience and fast-to-market execution in mind,” said Chadd Knowlton, general manager of the Content Access and Protection Group at Microsoft. “Working closely with Sky allowed us to showcase the unique capabilities of our technologies and play a role in allowing consumers to receive and engage with their favorite TV content in a new way.”
Silverlight’s use of PlayReady technology for content protection means that Sky can use the PlayReady Server SDK to deliver its range of Windows Media DRM-protected content to Silverlight clients on both Windows-based PCs and Macs.
Sky is making the new online only Sky Player TV service available today and will allow customers to choose from a number of online subscription packages. Existing Sky TV customers will continue to enjoy access to Sky Player in line with their core direct-to-home TV subscription entitlement. For Mac users, the new service includes support for all live linear channels with plans to add support for on-demand content sometime next year.
More information about the Sky Player service can be found by visiting http://www.sky.com/skyplayer.
Sky is the UK’s leading entertainment and communications company and operates the most comprehensive multi-channel television service in the UK and Ireland. Around 23 million viewers in 9 million households enjoy an unprecedented choice of movies, news, entertainment and sports channels and interactive services on Sky Digital.
Sky’s aim is to offer customers unparalleled choice in content that best serves the demands of today’s viewers. In delivering entertainment through the TV, PC and mobile, customers have more control and flexibility over what they watch and how they watch it.
Over 4 million customers use Sky+, Sky’s digital video recorder, to record and store their favourite programmes to watch them when they want. In May 2006, Sky evolved the television viewing experience yet further with the launch of the high definition television service, Sky HD.
In addition to its digital television service, Sky also provides the UK’s largest 3G mobile TV service (Sky Mobile TV) and an on-demand broadband download service (Sky Player TV).
In July 2006, Sky launched Sky Broadband and Sky Talk, providing great value broadband internet access and home telephony for Sky customers. Sky is now the fastest growing ISP in the UK.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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