Sky TV has long been the biggest provider of digital TV in the UK. It was the first TV provider to launch satellite TV services way back in 1989, giving Brits access to hundreds of channels and exclusive content from around the world that they’d never seen before.
If you’re like me and old enough to remember the days before the internet, Sky was the only way to watch those all-important TV shows from across the pond. And the introduction of movie channels and music channels changed the way we watched TV in the 90s.
Since then, TV has evolved significantly, and installing a satellite dish has started to seem quite old-fashioned. A lot of the exclusive features that satellite TV offered – pausing and rewinding live TV or watching box sets of your favourite shows – are now ubiquitous to streaming services.
So it’s no surprise that Sky has finally fully joined the streaming revolution with the introduction of its standalone streaming service, Sky Stream.
Sky Stream is Sky’s full-service streaming product. It allows customers to access all of Sky’s content via a streaming device without the need for a satellite dish or set-top box. Sky Stream gives you access to exclusive TV shows, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, live TV, and box sets to watch whenever you want.
In 2021, Sky launched Sky Glass, a Sky-branded smart TV that gives users access to everything Sky has to offer, all via an internet connection. Sky Stream is essentially the same service, just without the need to purchase the TV.
Basically, everything you watch on Sky is available on Sky Stream without the need for expensive gadgets or having to wait for an engineer to install any additional equipment.
As Sky Stream operates entirely via a broadband connection, you’ll need a minimum speed of at least 25Mbps, according to its own terms & conditions. Otherwise, using Sky Stream might clog up your internet connection, leaving little bandwidth for anyone else in your home.
Sky Stream officially launched on 18 October 2022 and is available to new and existing customers now.
The Sky Stream puck is Sky’s small but powerful streaming device that turns any TV into a smart TV. It can also be used in conjunction with other Sky Stream pucks, or with Sky Glass, to share your Sky TV subscription to every room in the house.
4K HDR support
Dolby Atmos ready
10.8 x 10.8 x 1.8cm
The Sky Stream remote is a small but comfortable remote with a familiar Sky feel. It includes features like voice search and the ability to operate your TV volume and on/off from a single remote (for most standard TV units).
Like most other streaming devices, you can also add other apps and streaming services to your Sky Stream. This includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV+, BBC iPlayer, Channel 4, ITV Hub, YouTube, and Discovery+ for a start.
Sky Stream has a standard setup fee of £29.95, which, at the time of writing, is reduced to £20 on certain packages. The price you pay each month will then depend on the TV subscription package you opt for and the number of channels you want to access.
The prices are slightly different, depending on whether you sign up for a rolling 31-day contract or commit to 18 months.
If you’re a long-time Sky user, the biggest change you’ll notice when switching to Sky Stream is how much free space you have in your TV unit.
The Sky Stream puck is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand – quite similar in size and shape to an Apple TV box. And fits neatly around your TV, just like most other streaming devices.
It includes an HDMI port and ethernet port, as well as an aerial input.
The Sky Stream remote is exactly the same as the Sky Glass remote, with a very familiar look and feel to the traditional Sky Q remote.
Unlike with Sky Q, there’s not much on the Sky Stream remote that’s likely to confuse you. It has a home button, back button, voice control button, volume control, and some numbers. Plus the all-important select wheel and select button.
It feels very intuitive, especially if you’re coming from using other Sky remotes.
Netflix is now included in the Sky Ultimate TV package. This means its content is fully integrated into your Sky Stream interface. When signing up, you’ll be given the option to either create a new account or link your current Netflix account to Sky Stream, ensuring you aren’t paying twice.
When you first log in, you’ll need to either sign up or sign in to your Netflix account when you log in to the Netflix app or choose a Netflix title from your home screen.
Adding Paramount Plus to Sky Stream is slightly more complicated. If you’re a Sky Cinema subscriber, you automatically get Paramount Plus included as part of your subscription. But you’ll need to sign into your Sky account and add Paramount+ as a service, even though it’s free.
Here’s what you need to do to add Paramount+ to Sky Stream:
When you sign up for Sky Stream, the base package includes Sky Entertainment and Netflix, which is the full bundle of Sky’s entertainment channels plus basic Netflix. You can choose to subscribe either on a month-by-month basis or sign up for 18 months to save on your monthly price.
After that, you’re given the option to add on additional channels, including Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, TNT Sports, and Sky Kids.
You’re also given the option to upgrade your viewing experience by adding UHD & Dolby Atmos to your channels or upgrading your Netflix plan to a Standard or Premium subscription.
At the time of writing, the ability to fast-forward commercials is included when you sign up. But that will eventually be included only with an additional charge, which is likely to cause a lot of frustration in a year’s time.
The majority of channels on Sky TV are available on Sky Stream, including Sky Atlantic, Sky Max, Sky Sports, and Sky Cinema. You can also watch all the standard Freeview channels, just as you would on Sky Q.
There are a number of channels that are still not currently available on Sky Stream. Most of these channels sit in the international or religion sections, but there are also some entertainment and sports channels not included, most notably BoxNation and TNT Sports Box Office.
If you want more detail, we have a guide on which channels are on Sky.
Sky Stream home screen sections:
Sections dedicated to content type – TV shows, Movies, Sports, Kids, News, Audio and music, Fitness, and International
Themed recommendations e.g. Halloween or Christmas content
Top 10 this week
Apps & inputs
Multiple suggestion lists including Live sport this week, Must-see movies, Watch in a week (for binge-worthy content)
Settings, Search, My Sky, Help
When you log into Sky Stream, it’s no real surprise that the most prominent titles featured are TV shows and films on Sky.
While you can have your other streaming services linked and add shows and films from them to your playlist, the content you’ll usually see heavily highlighted at the top of your page is all from Sky.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Since you’re paying for a Sky subscription, you’ll want to be shown and regularly reminded of all the great content available. As new shows premiere and new films become available, they’ll be featured along the top banner of your home page.
It’s a little frustrating that the option to continue watching is only available for Sky channels. Streaming services like Disney Plus, Netflix, and YouTube aren’t included.
Your Playlist is something of a combination of a regular watchlist and the recordings menu on Sky Q. While Sky Stream has no actual storage options, you can add upcoming shows to your playlist to watch at your leisure.
This is also where you can collect all your favourite content across all your streaming services. However, selecting a show or film outside of Sky will just launch their respective apps, and doesn’t automatically resume playing where you left off.
This, so far, is the biggest drawback of Sky Stream vs other streaming devices, like the Chromecast with Google TV. However, that device doesn’t have any Sky interface, so it really depends on the type of content you tend to watch most. As an avid YouTuber, Sky Stream is slightly less user-friendly than Google’s own interface.
Direct comparisons between Sky Stream and NOW are likely to be common, as both products are produced by Sky. The biggest difference is the interface. Whereas Sky Stream acts as a hub to connect and watch content across all your streaming channels, NOW offers direct access to Sky content online.
NOW also doesn’t give you access to any live or Freeview content, and isn’t available on every streaming device, such as the Chromecast with Google TV.
Finally, the big divider between the two is price. NOW is best known for its flexibility, giving you the option to subscribe to collections of channels on a month-by-month basis. You can get Entertainment for just £9.99 a month as and when there’s a show airing that you want to watch. Or you can subscribe to Sky Sports without needing to pay for any additional channels.
While NOW is definitely the most flexible option, Sky Stream beats Sky Q in that regard, as you’re able to sign up for TV packages on a 31-day rolling contract, unlike the standard 18-month contract required for Sky Q.
But obviously, the biggest difference between the two is the hardware requirements. If you’ve not been able to watch Sky TV because you aren’t able to get a satellite dish installed, Sky Stream takes care of that. No more engineer visits required.
However, what is required is a strong, reliable internet connection. If you’re struggling to get speeds of at least 30Mbps, it might actually be better to stick with satellite and free up some bandwidth for other online activities.
The sheer volume of content available with Sky Stream takes some time to get used to. And the combination of live channels and on-demand content can leave you struggling to choose what to watch. Which is a nice problem to have.
On the whole, the Sky Stream experience is excellent, if a bit less responsive than other streaming devices.
Having only used Sky Stream for a few weeks it will be interesting to see how the interface adapts its content recommendations based on what’s been viewed over the coming months.
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