Sky to debut TV programmes online as On Demand growth surges
Sky has reported record On Demand viewing figures and announced customers will be able to watch new TV shows online a week before they launch on Sky TV.
Sky On Demand, which allows you to download content to your Sky+ box to watch any time you choose, saw an average 4.5 million weekly downloads in the first three months of 2013, representing a 460% increase on last year.
These Sky TV customers will now be able to watch on-demand previews of the first episodes of "must-see shows" – Sky's words, not ours – including Hannibal, Mad Dogs, Trollied and The Borgias.
The first episode of each series will be available to download on demand a week before they launch on Sky TV. The premiere of US drama Hannibal is available right now to download ahead of its debut on Sky Living.
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The decision follows a similar move by the BBC, which announced earlier this year it would be showing selected programmes on BBC iPlayer first.
More than 2.3 million customers have connected their Sky+ box to the internet, up from 600,000 this time last year.
Other highlights from Sky's Q3 results included a record-breaking level of on demand viewing on Sky Movies, with 200 million views in 12 months, and 1.4 million on demand views of the first two seasons of Game of Thrones after the launch of season 3.
Sky also announced figures for Sky Go, Sky's live and on demand TV service for tablets and smartphones. Sky claims a total of 3.3 million users, with 196,000 unique users during Q3.
A record 319,000 customers used Sky Go to watch the recent Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid, with the new Sky Go Extra download service, which allows users to download content to watch offline (similar to the BBC iPlayer app), helping to boost interest.
Sky has also launched pay-per-view Sky TV for the first time, with internet TV service NOW TV enabling customers to pay £9.99 for unlimited access for a 24-hour period to all six Sky Sports channels.
Sky's subscriber base across all platforms hit 30 million users for the first time, with just over 15 million customers taking Sky TV, and over 4.6m of those taking HD.
Sky reported revenue growth of 6% and a profit after tax of £710 million (up from £655 million in 2012).
Virgin Media meanwhile announced its own Virgin TV Anywhere app back in November 2012, allowing users to watch live and on demand content across laptop, tablets and phones.
Written by Joe Cox