Sky has today announced prices for Sky Q, its new premium TV service that launches next month – and with packages starting at £42/mth with a £99 set-up fee, it doesn't come cheap.
Designed to be an all-in-one TV service with next-generation tech, Sky Q will be offered in two bundles from 9 February, with optional add-ons for movies and sports. Home installations will begin at the end of February.
Sky Q doesn't include extra channels over Sky's current TV offering nor does it yet support Ultra HD (4K) viewing, which is launching "later in 2016".
Here we explain exactly what you get, how the pricing works and how Sky Q compares with other TV and streaming services. For other options see our Digital TV Deals guide.
What is Sky Q?
Sky Q's designed to bring all Sky's content under one roof, allowing customers to view channels in different rooms of the same house, for example, using new high-spec hardware. It requires a broadband connection and a digital TV connection (and therefore a satellite dish), as well as a Sky Q subscription. Here are some of the features it offers:
- You'll be able to record multiple live programs at once while simultaneously watching other live channels on screens around the house.
- You'll be able to pause a programme in one room and continue watching in another, a feature Sky has dubbed 'fluid viewing'.
- Your library of recordings can be accessed from other rooms, as well as the full catalogue of Sky's Box Sets and movies, depending on your subscription.
- You can download programmes onto a tablet for offline viewing on the go.
- Apps will let you access other online content, such as YouTube.
- You'll be able to stream content from your mobile, such as music and photos, wirelessly to your TV.
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What new hardware is there and what does it do?
The new hardware is what makes Sky Q work and sets it apart from other existing TV services. There are five new pieces of equipment in total, though what you'll get depends on the package you choose.
You can choose between two new set-top boxes:
- Sky Q box: This is the basic HD set-top box, which sits in your main viewing room and connects to the internet wirelessly or via Ethernet. It comes with 1TB of storage (though only 700GB is for customer use) and lets you record three channels simultaneously while watching another. It will support streaming to one Sky Q Mini box (for more on this see below) and one tablet in the house.
- Sky Q Silver box: This does everything the standard box does, but includes 2TB of storage (1.7GB for use), allows you to watch three channels while watching a fourth, and supports simultaneous viewing on two Sky Q Mini boxes and two tablets. It will also support Ultra HD viewing when this is launched by Sky later in the year.
Both set-top boxes come with a:
- Sky Q touch remote: Sky's new Bluetooth remote uses touch functionality allowing you to swipe it to navigate content on the boxes. A 'remote alert' feature also helps you locate the remote if you ever lose it.
Those who opt for the more expensive Sky Q Silver bundle can get a:
- Sky Q Mini box: This is a smaller box that sits in other rooms of your home, enabling the streaming of content from the main Sky Q box elsewhere in the house. It connects to the network via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. One Mini box is included in the Sky Q Silver bundle, or you can buy them separately.
New and existing Sky broadband customers who take out a Sky Q package will also get a:
- Sky Q Hub: This is effectively Sky's new router. It houses Powerline technology, which means it can share your broadband connection to Sky Q Mini boxes through the electrical wiring in your home, in case of weak Wi-Fi signal. It also turns each Sky Q Mini into a Wi-Fi booster, to optimise coverage for other devices in your home.
How much does Sky Q cost?
There are two subscriptions available. The basic Sky Q bundle, which includes either the Sky Q or Sky Q Silver box, costs £42/month, while the Sky Q Silver bundle, which comes with a Sky Q Silver box and a Sky Q Mini box, is £54/mth. Both are on 18-month contracts.
On top of that you'll pay a one-off set-up fee (see the table below) – this'll depend on which package you get, which devices you opt for and whether you also take Sky broadband, Sky Sports or Sky Movies.
Both bundles come with 300+ channels (50+ in HD) and all 300+ Sky Box Sets on demand, 3D on demand and Sky Go Extra (for viewing downloads on the go). Sky's channel bundles don't exist on the Sky Q platform – you simply get all of Sky's channels except for movies and sports. Sky Movies is an extra £17/month and Sky Sports £25.50/month, or you can get both for £34.50/month.
Existing Sky TV customers will also pay an extra £50 installation fee. Sky has confirmed there will be no termination charges for existing TV customers still within their contract upgrading to Sky Q. And existing Sky broadband customers won't have to take out a new contract to qualify for the discounts shown below.
Sky Q upfront costs
|Bundle||Devices received||For those with Sky broadband, Sky Sports or Sky Movies on top||For those without Sky broadband, Sky Sports or Sky Movies on top|
|Sky Q bundle (£42/mth)||Sky Q Box||£99||£249|
|Sky Q Silver box||£149||£299|
|Sky Q Silver bundle (£54/mth)||Sky Q Silver box + 1 Sky Q Mini box||£99 (1)||£299 (1)|
|Existing Sky TV customers also pay a £50 installation charge. (1) Existing customers who currently pay for HD or Multiscreen who take the Sky Q Silver bundle pay the lower £99 price regardless of whether they take Sky broadband, Sky Sports or Sky Movies; they get no discount on the Sky Q bundle.|
Paying the upfront cost and the subscription price don't actually buy you the equipment – you're just 'renting' it from Sky. While this means servicing and mechanical-fault repairs don't cost extra (accidental damage isn't covered), it also means Sky has the right to take the equipment back if you ever cancel your contract.
So is Sky Q worth it?
Sky Q definitely isn't MoneySaving, but whether you think it's worth it is likely to depend on whether you'll use the extra functionality it offers. It's likely to benefit larger households more, as many of its features focus on multi-room viewing, and it's also likely to appeal to those for whom having the latest tech is a must.
For those who already take most of Sky's channels and the add-ons it offers, they may find Sky Q isn't that much more expensive. However do weigh it up against other options:
- Those who tend to watch in only one room at a time may find Now TV, Sky's wholly online streaming service, suffices. With a £15 box you can stream Sky's entertainment channels for £6.99/month and movie channels for £9.99/month to your TV, with no min contract. Other streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video cost from £6/month with free trials available – see Watch Movies & TV Online for more.
- If you prefer a traditional digital TV subscription, then a similar package of channels from Sky without Sky Q costs much less upfront – just £10 – though the monthly subscription's similar (the Family Bundle + Sky Go Extra costs £41/mth). It's usually possible to get new customer deals so many will pay less. See the Cheap Digital TV guide for current deals with Sky and other providers.
- Remember if you stick with Sky it may be possible to haggle a better deal, even though Sky Q is a premium service. Our recent poll found a huge 88% of those who tried to haggle with Sky were successful – see our Haggle with Sky guide for full help.