I've been a Sky customer for over 11 years and while in the early years I didn't think much about shelling out near to £50 a month for all of the channels through the years, I realised how wasteful that had been seeing as I didn't watch most of them. I began by cutting back on the channels as much as Sky would let me getting my bill to about £23 a month.
If you're a Sky customer you'll be no stranger to Sky's offers, where they'd like to give you the movies or sports package for a large discount for 6 months or more. The problem comes when trying to cancel those channels. In the past I've been on the phone to the cancellation line for almost an hour trying to drop channels and with them suffering slow systems. Sky make it very easy to add new channels you can even do this online, however the functionality to remove channels was not made available online.
Don't get me wrong I have had no other problems with Sky through the years as a service and I have found it a reliable service. I even managed to save money by learning how to service my own satellite dish without taking out a service contract. However I couldn't help but be fascinated by BT's YouView option. BT give you the option of a YouView box along with 18 other channels among them SyFy, Universal and Fox which were some of the channels we seemed to watch the most on Sky. All of this would only cost me £7 a month added onto my existing broadband package. Previously I had been put off BT's service in the past because you couldn't record these extra channels which were sent to you over your broadband connection. After an announcement was made that these channels were recordable, I took the plunge and ordered the BT TV service and ran it alongside Sky for a few months to compare them and to start recording my shows on the new box.
It took me a bit of getting used to the interface on the YouView box but after a while it started to make sense. It also came across as more intuitive compared to the Sky program interface, the ability to go back in time on the planner and watch shows that had already been aired was a brilliant idea. Recording shows was simple enough and so was recording a series of a show.
On Demand Shows
Both boxes provide on demand content and there is no competition when it comes to the latest content Sky does win hands down. That's not to say BT's "BT Player" service doesn't have an impressive catalogue however quite a lot of the on demand content is older and much of it has probably been removed from Sky's catalogue already.
But wait! Is that Sky in the On Demand section on the YouView box I see? It is indeed! So while you have access to BT Player in the On Demand section on the YouView box from BT which features all the on demand shows BT have sourced you also have access to content from BBC iPlayer, ITV, 4OD, Channel 5, MilkShake, NOW TV, Sky, Dave and S4C.
The Sky Store player in the on demand section is basically giving you access to pay per view movies from Sky. If you're looking for the latest movie releases you're more than likely going to find them in here before they reach the BT Player Box Office section. Sky Store funnily enough actually seems to work better on the YouView box than it does on Sky's own box. The Sky Store is also available separately on other services.
What about NOWTV?
NOW TV is also a service available from Sky basically providing Sky's regular content over broadband (at a price). Don't get too excited though the NOW TV player on the YouView box does not have the ability to stream live content from NOW TV as it does on their website or via the Xbox such as Sky Atlantic or Sky One but Sky does mention they are working with YouView to make this available. For now the only content you can get off NOWTV on YouView is Sky Movies. I'll be writing a separate article about NOWTV and their dedicated NOWTV Box later.
Other on Demand Content
And as usual the other on demand players such as iPlayer, itv Player etc are freely available on the YouView box as they are via a web browser on your PC. I will admit I have only made use of BBC iPlayer and 4 On Demand and have had no problems so far with the quality of the service.
I have found the YouView Humax box provided by BT reliable and haven't had too many problems with it. I have only had one issue watching a SkyStore film which kept on stuttering, the issue was corrected by quickly resetting the box by holding down the power button on the front for 8 seconds.
I suppose I will find out soon enough if I will end up regretting my decision to drop Sky. Only time will tell