Sky-Humax deal brings early taste of Picnic

By Julian Clover
April 14, 2010 10.30 UK

In its first agreement with a major player in the set-top box market, Sky is to launch its Sky Player service on the Humax range of broadband-enabled high definition receivers.

The first such box is the Humax HD-FOX T2, which launched in February, and already carries the capability to deliver the BBC iPlayer. The initiative not only puts the Sky Player side by side with the iPlayer, but with the Freeview HD terrestrial platform, ahead of any launch of Sky’s Picnic project as indicated in last week’s announcements from the regulator Ofcom.

“In providing both new and existing customers with more choice and control over how they access Sky content, we continue to harness secure and high-quality distribution platforms like Humax,” said Griff Parry, Sky’s Director of On-Demand. “We know that many Sky homes also have Freeview in other rooms, and this provides a great way for them to enjoy Sky away from their Sky box. And for new customers, particularly those in Freeview homes, it provides an innovative new access point to Sky’s high-quality pay TV content.”

Graham North, Commercial Director, Humax, adds: “The addition of Sky Player on our Freeview HD boxes ensures Humax is positioned to offer consumers an exciting way to experience digital TV, with great content and a range of home networking and content sharing features.” It is understood that Humax will use the ANT browser for its UK portal, which has already been privately demonstrated on its iCord+ product.

Sky Player provides both a range of live TV channels, including the satcaster’s premium offerings Sky Movies and Sky Sports, as well as a variety of on demand content. The new allows existing Sky subscribers to access content from a second room or for new subscribers to join Sky through a dedicated IPTV subscription.

Sky already has a deal in place with Fetch TV, Cello IP-enabled TVs and 3View, though arguably the Humax is a more recognized brand in the UK market. Although Humax has implemented the iPlayer on its range of Freesat boxes, a hardware upgrade would be required to deliver the Sky service, which in any case would require the approval of Freesat.

Sky Player is already available through PCs, Macs and a variety of games consoles.