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Sky recruiting to fill Sky+ customisation gap

New product due in 2008

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Sky is looking to enhance its Sky+ product with a new version in 2008. It also aims to increase personalisation and customer-profiling to aid content discovery, as well as real video-on-demand services.

Sky+, the company's digital video recorder product (DVR), records programmes onto a hard disk for later viewing, but still lags behind the benchmark, TiVo, in features and usability - even though TiVo has been out of production in the UK for years.

DVRs are being incorporated into Freeview boxes too, further pushing Sky to innovate its platform, as its recent advertisement for a senior analyst (recommendations engine) demonstrates.

Sky+ right now has no "recommendations engine" - that idea is unique to TiVo which builds up a picture of viewing habits and automatically records programs it feels might be of interest.

But Sky is now looking for someone to be responsible for: "Creating, developing, and maintaining programme classification and analytics to support the selection and recommendation of individual programmes to customers and prospects."

Which sounds very much like the same thing. Sky is certainly planning a very basic video-on-demand service, with content sent out over satellite during the night, but the real grail is delivery of on-demand video over the internet and into the living room.

The Sky+ box has an ethernet socket, but it's more likely to be Sky+ II, coming out in 2008, which will move Sky Anytime (currently only available on PCs) on to the TV screen. Once that happens, customers are going to need all the help they can get finding content they like.

The biggest problem here may well be Sky's commitment to High Definition video - getting HD content over an ADSL link won't be easy, especially if customers have Sky multi-room or want to watch and record at the same time.

But those of us still nursing our irreplaceable TiVo boxes will be pleased to hear that Sky+ is at least taking steps in the right direction. ®

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