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Sky goes VoD after shipping 2m Sky+ boxes

But what's the difference between video-on-demand and time-shifting?

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Satellite broadcaster Sky is intending to add video-on-demand capabilities to its Sky+ boxes over the next year, allowing subscribers to pay more to record shows they failed to record first time round.

Unlike offerings from Channel 4 or the Venice project, Sky isn't planning to offer video over the internet: its Sky+ VoD service will record programmes from a selection transmitted over the Sky satellite system, which has more than enough bandwidth to spare.

Quite how this differs from using Sky+ in the normal way - asking it to record programs you want to watch later - isn't clear, except that this is an additional service and so will presumably be available at additional cost. The billing model has yet to be decided.

Sky already offers premium on-demand content over its satellite system, as Sky Box Office, so it would seem that this new offering will provide the same service for TV shows instead of films, and utilise a currently-unused portion of the Sky+ hard disk. Only about half of the 2m deployed Sky+ boxes will support the new service, and Sky is still deciding how to manage the migration of the other half.

Being able to offer VoD right in to the living room is a significant advantage, and one which is currently only available cable TV operators (geeks aside). Using the satellite means no internet latency or bandwidth usage, but Sky are only going to be able to offer a limited number of shows, and while the service might claim to be VoD, in reality it's just another form of time-shifting with event billing. ®

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