Sky reportedly planning to launch its first Smart TV

Mike Wheatley

British broadcaster Sky’s next move could be to launch its own, branded smart televisions as it steps up its battle to win viewers from rival services.


The U.K.-based company, which counts 23 million subscribers in six European countries, is on the verge of announcing the first Sky-branded Smart TVs as early as next month, according to a report in the Financial Times that cites “people with knowledge of the plans”.

Sky’s hardware is currently limited to the company’s existing set-top box device, so the launch of its own TVs would be a significant and very ambitious move. It would be the biggest strategic move it has made since it was acquired by the U.S. media group Comcast three years ago.

The move is plausible though as there has been a trend emerging among global media groups to try and marry the content they produce with distribution. With the rise of video streaming services, viewers are faced with an overwhelming selection of different services to choose from, and some might be feeling a little overwhelmed as they try to decide which ones they should sign up for.

Sky’s traditional focus has always been on live sport and movies, but in recent years it has expanded to become a kind of content gatekeeper. Through the Sky Q service, it aggregates its own content with that of other services such as Netflix and Disney+. If Sky has its own TV platform, and if it sells well, it would gain increased leverage for its talks with those and other content providers. Netflix et al are keen to engage with hardware makers to increase the visibility of their services, for example through the addition of dedicated buttons on their remote controls.

A Sky Q Smart TV would presumably offer the company’s own services streamed over the Internet, together with offerings from third-parties, in a single, easy-to-use package that many British viewers might consider to be ideal.

Such a move would echo that of another major content producer, Amazon, which last month announced the launch of its first ever Amazon Fire TVs. Also, it wouldn’t be the first time Comcast has dipped its toes into hardware. In the U.S., the company is partnering with the Chinese firm Hisense to develop two smart TVs under the Xclass brand, according to a report from Protocol.

Sky refused to confirm or deny the report. “We constantly look at new technologies to bring our customers more of the content that they love. ​We don’t comment on product rumours,” it said in a statement to the Financial Times.

No doubt if Sky is planning to launch its own Smart TVs it will need a partner to make the hardware. The Financial Times report doesn’t mention any names, but Hisense, given its existing relationship with Comcast, is one option. Sky has also partnered with LG Electronics in the past however, and the South Korean firm would be a very intriguing option for Sky executives if they’re bold enough to consider launching TVs with premium features such as OLED displays.

Earlier this month, Sky revealed it will hold a press conference on October 7 where it will revealed something “magical”. It didn’t say any more than that, and most of the speculation at the time was that it would reveal its long-awaited Sky Q over broadband service, which will enable access to all of Sky’s programming without the need for a satellite dish. Assuming that's true, it would be an ideal occasion to reveal its new TVs.

Sky certainly has the money it would need to invest in a Smart TV of its own. Though the company initially suffered at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as live sports were taken off air, it quickly recovered. With most sports now resuming with no fans in attendance, and with most of Europe forced to entertain themselves at home, the company has reported record-breaking revenues in the past few quarters.