Sky’s biggest shake-up of its EPG to begin rolling out to viewers next week

14 Mar 2014

Alun Webber, Sky MD of product design and development, with Sky Ireland director of sales and marketing Mark Anderson

Satellite broadcaster Sky will begin rolling out the most ambitious shake-up of its electronic programme guide (EPG) since 1998 to TV viewers in the UK and Ireland, bringing search, on-demand content and catch-up TV to the fore.

From the end of the month, Sky customers in Ireland will start to see a brand new TV homepage on their Sky+HD boxes.

For the first time ever, Catch Up, On Demand, the Sky+ Planner and Sky Store will sit alongside channel listings as equal options on a new TV homepage, so customers will be able to immediately find the shows they most want to watch, whether live or on demand.

New icons on the homepage will include TV Guide, Planner, Catch Up TV, TV Box Sets, New Series, Best of On Demand, Sky Movies On Demand, Sky Store, and Search.

And with an average 1m searches per day across Ireland and the UK, a new search box will also take centre stage on the homepage.

Users will be able to search by title, actor, event, channel, sport or any keyword, and expect the most recent and on-trend suggestions across all live, recorded and on-demand content.

Digital killed the linear star

sky epg

Alun Webber, Sky’s managing director of product design and development explained that the technology collates results based on real-time searches across the UK and Ireland.

Speaking with, Webber said the new design has been influenced by observing how Sky customers engage with Sky+ and Sky Go apps.

“We’ve spent the last seven years making it easier to connect and enjoy choice and flexibility. Key to that is technology that works simply but the thing nagging us was how do we make it easier for customers to discover everything that’s there or see, everything that’s available to them, and that was the genesis for this new TV homepage that’s rolling out in the coming weeks.”

Webber said there was a desire to shake-off the last vestiges of linear TV formats.

“The TV guide that’s there today, we worked hard to get that into a perfectly usable guide, but it harks back to yesteryear, where TV was all about linear channels whereas now it’s all about giving customers a choice over how they watch things.

“We took all the content – over 10,000 hours of content – and brought those categories up to level footing with linear channels along with the planner.

“Now the best of Sky is all in one place. It’s easier to engage with on-demand, it’s easier to access and if you are haven’t yet connected to on-demand, you’ll get a sense of what’s missing because it’s already part of your subscription so it’s a win-win in both ways there.”

Webber said the new design was also a reaction to the conventional thinking that pervades most on-demand digital-content players.

“One of the problems in the industry when it comes to content discovery is the experts keep coming back with it being all about recommendations. Not everyone wants to have things recommended for them, they do like a little bit of discovery, too.

“There’s a proliferation of choice and we decided to make it easier for them to more broadly and easily find the content they want on their own terms,” Webber said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years