Why charge extra for Sky Go Extra?

by , Deputy Technology Editor Technology 23 January 2013
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Sky Go Extra adds another £5 per month to an already expensive service – is this fair or is Sky taking its customers for a ride? Would you pay extra to be able to download TV and films to watch later?

Sky Go Extra on London Tube

Sky is very successful. If you want to watch the most popular sports, the latest films first or catch the greatest US TV shows (Game of Thrones is my favourite) then Sky has the market pretty well sewn up.

Naturally, none of this comes cheap, but Sky pays to licence all this entertainment so you can justify the expense if that’s what you want. And Sky does a great job in its coverage – unpopular as its poaching of Formula 1 TV rights was, its coverage is (in my opinion) outstanding.

Downloading content for on-the-go viewing

However, I personally think charging for Sky Go Extra is step over the line. You’re not paying for content here. You’re just paying for the right to access this content in the way you want it. You can read all about the nitty gritty of Sky Go Extra on Which? Tech Daily, but it’s basically an extension to the existing free-to-subscribers Sky Go service, letting users download films and TV episodes to watch later when offline. At the moment, normal Sky Go users can only stream content and so require an internet connection at all times.

In principle, then, it’s a damn good idea – I love the idea of enjoying films and TV programs in internet-free zones, such as planes and trains. But Sky has slapped a £5-a-month subscription charge on this new feature. You’re not getting any new content, of course, you can only access what’s already included in your subscription.

A no go for Sky Go Extra?

Is it fair for Sky to charge for this addition? I don’t think so and here’s why:

It’s unlikely to cost Sky much more to provide the service. This is extra functionality, not a new piece of hardware or new content. Unlike Sky’s multiroom service where you pay extra to subsidise the additional box needed, you already own the equipment needed to access Sky Go Extra on your laptop, tablet or phone. Sky doesn’t charge to access catch-up TV via a Sky box, does it? Why is this any different? It’s especially galling in light of recent increases in overall subscription charges, too.

It’s not very smart. Much of Sky’s recent attention is focused on competing with the likes of Netlfix and LoveFilm, both of which offer libraries of TV and films. Sky launched Now TV, for example, as a direct competitor to them both. But Sky Go is the equivalent for Sky subscribers, and Extra adds something no other service can offer – offline viewing. It’s a great feature and it would have been a great piece of goodwill to its loyal customers, but the extra charge leaves a bitter taste.

How many extras can its customers bear before they say enough is enough?

21 comments

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prentonboy

Is this not similar to the old Sky Desktop which allowed you to download films etc to the desktop for offline viewing, at no extra cost?

http://go.sky.com/vod/page/download-tv-player.html

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Phillip Thorne

I used to be able to download with Sky desktop for free and now all of a sudden I can’t do it anymore. I can still stream but not download.

I spoke to Sky and they told me they wanted an extra fiver for Sky Go Extra and I told them what to do with it!

I have my phone, TV and broadband service with Sky and pay them over £90 per month without including the calls I make and they want me to give them more money to be able to watch a film for a limited time until it expires and deletes itself anyway.

Has anyone else found recently that the advert breaks are getting so long you forget what you was watching or just lose interest and do something else or is that just me?

I always remember when I was a kid my mother telling me the BBC didn’t have advert breaks as you paid them with a license fee. Those rules have long gone now then! If that were still true Sky would have to either keep the adverts and scrap the subscription fee or vice verse.

Actually the TV license now mostly goes to the Government. Which explains allot if you used to prefer BBC1 and BBC2 to the other channels.

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NFH

This is very similar to when Sky used to charge £10/month extra for Sky+ (to record programmes to the Sky box’s hard disk). Sky falsely claimed it was a service, yet the only service is the channels which are paid for separately and the ability to record is not a service but functionality within the Sky box which is already owned by the consumer.

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Linda Wells

Sky charges me £2.50 per month for not having their tv! While their broadband and evening/weekend phone call package have been trouble free, I’m just about to migrate to PlusNet. I called Sky recently and asked them to take off the £2.50 charge, but they refused, so I’m voting with my feet.

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skeptictank

I voted with my feet and dumped Sky about a year ago because of their pricing structure. I have no regrets, I just get irritated with all the junk mail from Sky trying to get me to re-subscribe.

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Bernard Lavelle

SKy contacted me with research on Sky Go and one of the questions was about the £5. I said I was not prepared to pay for it and I am sure I was not alone in this. I already pay for the content so why should i pay twice for it? I travel a lot so will be sticking with the FREE BBC iPlayer for my travelling consumption. I suggest others do the same.

Sky need to think about this hard as i see Sky Go as added value to keep me with Sky. Virgin seem to be ahead of the game against Sky now and this short term revenue generator may have a longer term revenue impact for Sky.

Sky – we are watching you, don’t take your customers for granted!

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Jules

This is so typical of Sky – fleece the customer! I left Sky after having endured 2 hours of nonsense and hard sell from them. I would like to see see Which? campaign for the right to cancel on line. Sky do not understand that customer convenience should come first.

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Malay

Hi this latest attempt by Sky to get more money from us for an already ridiculously expensive service is just typical of the greed of large companies.
I will be seriously looking at alternatives now after being a loyal Sky customer from its inception.
This is just another example of their quest to extract even more money from their customers.
I urge everyone to look at alternative services and eventually, maybe, Sky will come to value their business.
Unhappy subscriber

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Snowdin10

I agree with all the comments about Sky’s greed in charging extra for this non-service. Anyone seriously considering this might think about putting SkyGo on a laptop or PC and adding a programme like Audials One v10 (£40 today) that lets you copy content off the screen plus sound to whatever format you like. It works well as long as you have a fast enough connection for streaming. That way you have a one off charge instead of a never ending drain and can keep programmes as long as you like. I’ve used Audials for several years and have no financial connection to the company! The other thing I detest about SkyGo is that it doesn’t allow you to connect an Ipad via an HDMI lead to a TV to get a decent sized picture. The Iplayers apps do, no problem, but I can’t with SkyGo despite having paid my subscription.

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Othran

The bottom line here is simple :

People have increasingly been using laptops in place of a second Sky box. Sky can’t prevent laptops from outputting to hdmi (they can with iOS and some Android builds) so who in their right mind is going to pay Sky £10.25 for multiroom?

So Sky decide to both restrict the content that was available on Sky Go (stuff that was free to watch last year now costs money to watch) and also prevent laptops downloading. Unless of course you pay the £5 for Sky Go “Extra”.

Sky can spin it any way they want but this is all about multiroom subs declining. Nothing else.

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KnucklesTheDog

Excellent article. I just want to highlight one point touched on by other commenters. This is not a new service at all, my monthly package has allowed me to watch downloaded films for many years.

All Sky have done is switched clients from PC/Mac to Android/iOS. So to get almost exactly the same service as I got two weeks ago, I need to spend another £5 a month.

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brock

Agree with the premise of the article. Just missed one thing – Sky claims that the increase is due to the extra costs of rights for downloading stuff. Whilst there may be a charge for this, Sky aren’t making this move to ‘cover costs’, as they acknowledge in their recent financial results.

I think the article should acknowledge this reasoning of Sky’s and blow it out of the water.

Its about getting more money out of their existing customers. And they seem to want to do this without providing anything significantly extra for them.

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Dave

The Sky Go Extra package isn’t providing a new service – it’s replacing the free downloads that were previously available, with a £5 subscription download service.

If Sky Go Extra provided a download facility that was not previously available, your article discussion would be accurate. As it is, a previously free service is being made chargeable.

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Pete

@Othran If multiroom subscriptions are declining, they should include a free Extra subscription with it

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Othran

You jest Pete, everything Sky does is about increasing ARPU, you’re not going to get them to give up £123/year for multiroom. Its pure profit for them as there are no additional rights costs.

Anyway my time with them is going to be limited – with the new deep-packet inspection kit that’s going on the network this year its only a matter of time until traffic shaping/throttling arrives. Its going to be dressed up as “whole-house family protection” (see latest Sky blogs) but its DPI and that ALWAYS gets used for traffic management.

I think I’d rather spend a little more on a company whose reps (online and phone) don’t lie about the terms and conditions on a daily basis. Oh and a company who doesn’t increase your charges by between 8 and 19% while you’re in minimum contract term would be good too.

Sky are at their peak now – its only downhill from here (IMHO) and nobody is going to shed any tears for them…..

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Madmuso

Agree with most of what is said above, especially about charging for something that used be free. Downloading is not a big deal for me (I can use BBC for most of what I need in that space) but being able to play on more than two devices is the restriction that really annoys me. However, £5 a month is too much to pay for the privilege of adding another two. I fully understand that it would be an issue if I could play on an unlimited number of devices simultaneously (then my neighbours, friends etc could watch sky without a subscription) but I don’t understand why the system cannot check how many SkyGo Players are logged in at once and just limit that to two. 3D also hacks me off. I can only get that if I pay for movies and sports which I don’t need.
I see the point about getting multi-room for free – but you don’t get the full range of channels. They should certainly make it free with a multi-room subscription.

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Looeykane

No… as much as I like the idea of downloading Sky programmes onto my iPad I think it’s outrageous that Sky is charging £5 extra a month. We already pay £68 per month for the full package, to charge extra for content we are already entitled to is appalling. In fact, it has annoyed me so much that we decided to put Netflix to the test and are so pleased with it we have downgraded our Sky package. I admit this was a reaction to Sky charging extra for downloading, but it has made me happy to pay them a little less per month as I feel they monopolise the market.

Another thing that annoys me is that I have Sky News on my iPhone and iPad, so my husband can’t have it on his iPad….2 devices is just not enough..irritating!!

When we called to downgrade the message said there was a minimum 30-40 minute wait…so cunning husband redialled and chose the “want to add to my package” option…the call was answered within 4 minutes…funny that ……..Sky…I’m afraid you’re getting a bit big for your boots…the worms are turning…

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EDWIN ADAMS

I think sky have made a greedy mistake in adding £5 to watch sky go especially as I have had it free of charge for years it gets my back up when I see how much more greedy they have become.
I hope other companies will gain from this move. They are still the only company to charge for HD. Come on TALKTALK!!!!!!!!!!

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Anita Robinson

I travel a lot in my work and perhaps that is why this has just come to my attention. I downloaded a film last month to watch whilst travelling in Switzerland and today was the first time I tried again. I came across a message telling me that I did not have access to this content! So I called Sky at 5p per minute. Firstly I was kept holding for 16 mins whilst the Sky girl went to find some info for me, then the line went dead. Next I called back to be told by a very upperty woman that everyone else was very happy with the service and that £5 extra was a bargain as you could now have four devices to download on.
I am totally disgusted as those who have noted above. We have had the full sky package since inception we never get special offers like new customers, we have upgraded to HD we have added services as they became available. Now four weeks after receiving the letter advising of a £2.50 rise in subscription they now tell me I ave to ay an extra £5 a month for a service I already have.
I have now sent in a report to watch dog I will post wherever I can so people are aware and I am changing to Netflix and BT Sport through freeview Thank you Sky

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Anita Robinson

Just phoned Sky and cancelled the lot :)

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robert price

Just taken up the free 2 months for skygo extra. Why do they limit your viewing time to 30 days?
I agree with lots of the comments above. Why should I pay twice for a sky movie particularly when I cant even choose a time to watch the recording. If I record a movie on my HD Box it never expires.
I just don’ t understand the logic !!!!!

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