Sky follows the BBC with live streaming launch

New version of Sky’s video on-demand service now offers live streaming of several free-to-air and premium channels along with online-only viewing subscriptions.

Sky Player live streaming Sky News

BSkyB has released a major update to its Sky Player service, offering web-based access to archive programming and live streaming of its most popular channels.

The launch of the live service follows the start of a live streaming trial by the BBC that will see its main broadcast channels BBC1 and BBC2 streamed for free on the BBC web site to UK-based users.

Sky is using Microsoft's Silverlight platform as the delivery mechanism for its streaming content, allowing Mac and Linux users to use the service for the first time. Sky's previous Sky Player application software was Windows-only.

Sky player allows Sky's satellite TV subscribers to access a library of movies, TV shows, news programmes and sports clips that have recently aired on its channels. The new web streaming service adds live feeds of Sky channels including Sky News, Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and Xtra, National Geographic and the Disney Channel.

Also, the satellite broadcaster is selling online-only subscriptions to its channels for the first time, charging from 15 for the basic entertainment pack through to 34 for customers wanting access to the Sky Sports channels.

The move comes as more people turn to their computers and mobile devices to access videos and TV programming, including their home pay-TV subscriptions.

"Sky Player TV recognises that, for some, the computer screen is now the preferred screen through which to watch TV. In developing a standalone subscription to a secure online platform, we are responding to the diverse needs of today's customers," said Mike Darcey, chief operating officer at BSkyB.

Rival broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC were provisionally blocked from launching a combined web-based video on-demand service after Ofcom ruled the project, called Kangaroo, would be anti-competitive.

Sky recently scrapped plans for a standalone terrestrial pay-tv service called Picnic after regulator Ofcom raised concerns over competition and use of the Freeview spectrum for another subscription service. It has been widely suggested that Sky would instead use IPTV in conjunction with its own Sky Broadband unbundled telephony network to launch a separate terrestrial-based subscription TV service.

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