Ian Lewis, Director of Sky Cinema Europe, has confirmed that the operator will have an Ultra HD movie proposition by the end of 2016, with announcements on Sky’s UHD strategy expected in the coming weeks.
Lewis’s comments came as Sky revealed a rebrand and a relaunch of its UK Sky Movies service to ‘Sky Cinema’ from July 8, bringing it into line with Sky’s German and Italian services.
Gary Davey, Sky’s Managing Director, Content described the relaunch as “a really important day” for the broadcaster. “In the 27-year history of Sky Movies, we have never evolved in such a big way as we are announcing today, for a completely new look and a completely new approach.”
He said that Sky Movies had evolved and innovated constantly for 27 years, but for the first time, it was being given a new name, a whole new set of functions, a whole new approach, including a very big number of new movie premieres. “Some of these innovations have come from our new partnerships with our colleagues in Germany and Italy,” he advised.
“The big transformation is that Sky Movies is about to become Sky Cinema, to put us in synch with our colleagues across, our platforms, our five territories,” he explained. “They are all going to be evolving very rapidly in both technology, content and service.”
He said that in combination, Sky was clearly the biggest subscription movie service in Europe which has given it the opportunity to leverage its strengths. “We now have one negotiation with our Hollywood studio partners, highlighting a deal with Sony for all territories. It’s the first time that anyone has done a pan-European premium movie deal. Going forward, all of our studio renewals will be managed in the same way.”
Among the service enhancements revealed by Lewis and Davey were confirmation of a new movie premiere every day, an expanded library of on demand films, more pop up channels as well as better HD picture and sound quality, designed to take subscribers one step closer to the cinema experience.
The changes come at no extra cost to existing and new subscribers, with Lewis confirming that HD would be offered as standard to all Sky Cinema customers on the Sky and Virgin Media platforms.
Spectre (8 July), Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (9 July), Steve Jobs (18 September), Bridge of Spies (30 September) and The Danish Girl (23rd October) will all premiere in the first few months after the relaunch. The Jungle Book, Zootopia and Captain America: Civil War are set to headline Sky’s most ambitious Christmas movie collection yet.
The enhanced viewing experience will come to life through a number of new features for customers watching through Sky+HD or Sky Q including:
•New, improved HD as standard
•Even better sound quality, closer to the cinema experience, for on demand films
•New tools to help customers watch and find their favourite films including the ‘Restart’ feature which means customers can watch films from the very beginning no matter what point they switch on
To improve the HD, Sky is using a new internal master format that provides a third more pixels and four times the number of colour shades of the current HD offered. This means sharper and more vibrant pictures for a better viewing experience. As well as improved picture, selected movies on demand will also have sound closer to cinema. The sound range has been increased in part by taking the audio track straight from the studios. It means louder bangs and quieter whispers with no need for customer to make any adjustments to their TV.
“With Sky Cinema we are giving customers an even closer to the cinema experience with enhanced picture and sound quality,” said Lewis. “However, we know the heart of the service is great movies. Customers want a breadth of the latest quality films to enjoy with the flexibility to watch whenever they want and on whatever device they choose. Sky Cinema builds on this commitment with even more premieres and instant access to an unrivalled library of the latest blockbusters and classic films. A better service needs a new name and Sky Cinema is about delivering the ultimate offering for movie fans everywhere,” he declared.
In describing the sound, image and functionality enhancements, and confirming that HD would be offered at no extra cost, Lewis noted that the Sky Q box is Ultra HD-ready. “We will be making an announcement in the next few weeks as to exactly what we’re going to do with that. What I can tell you is that we will have an Ultra HD movies proposition on the platform before the end of this year,” he revealed.
All films will be available on 11 dedicated live channels, via on demand, or on the go through Sky Go and the dedicated Sky Cinema app.