The battle for TV viewers’ eyeballs is about to up a gear as Sky gets ready to launch a new Ultra HD service in the UK and Ireland.
An update is being rolled out to customers of the Sky Q Silver service in July ahead of the full launch on 13 August, just in time for the start of the Premier League season kick-off between Hull and Leicester.
Ultra HD is up to four times the definition of high-definition TV.
The Premier League, Formula 1 2017 championship, an array of movies and natural history documentaries will all be available on Sky in Ultra HD.
How to get Ultra HD
To watch Ultra HD, viewers need a Sky Silver box subscription and a TV that is capable of supporting Ultra HD, which requires a resolution of 2160p at 50fps and which adheres to High Bandwidth Digital Copyright Protection (HDCP) 22.
Viewers who already have Sky Q Silver can set up their box to be Ultra HD ready from the end of July by going into their AV settings and selecting 2160p resolution.
Dave Cameron, Sky’s director of TV Experience, explained that, going forward, Sky intends to adopt Ultra HD for most of its new content, starting with Premier League football, Formula 1 racing and new movies and TV boxsets.
In a demo, Cameron showed how Ultra HD provides greater depth and clarity to movies such as The Revenant.
“Looking ahead, there are lots of originals that we can remaster for Ultra HD but the plan is to ensure that as many films and sports events are filmed in Ultra HD resolution. We are in discussions with studios.”
Cameron explained that movies such as The Revenant, which work out at 5GB of storage in normal HD, are likely to be four times larger in ultra HD.
This shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the standard Sky Q silver box comes with up to 2TB of storage, which equals up to 350 hours of standard HD content.
“Between now and the end of July all customers will get an update to their Sky Q boxes and the commercial proposition will launch on 13 August to coincide with the Hull vs Leicester Premier League game.”
Cameron said that Sky Q is also getting new capabilities, such as autoplay, which automatically downloads the next episode in a season to have it ready to watch as the first episode ends.