British satellite broadcaster Sky announced way back in February 2018 that it was intending to bring HDR to its service some time in 2019. Since then subscribers have been waiting increasingly impatiently for the promised picture enhancement to appear.
Now, though, with just days left for Sky to make good on its promise, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed that HDR is now not going to happen until at least late 2020.
The revelation came from in a post by Sky Employee ‘Kei+M’ (one of Sky’s Community Managers) on Sky’s own forum, under a thread entitled ‘HDR Update 2019?!’.
After more than 20 pages of Sky subscribers speculating on how much longer they would have to wait for Sky’s HDR support to finally go live, Kei+M posted the following message on December 24 at 10.23am UK time: “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s unlikely that the UK will be seeing HDR until late next year at the earliest. We’ve pushed it back whilst we work on other priorities.”
Sky’s long promised support for HDR is now not going to happen until late 2020 at the earliest.
Photo: Sky Q box (Sky Broadcasting)
There has as yet been no follow up post offering a fuller explanation for the delay, and my attempts to contact Sky through its PR channels have failed so far thanks to everyone seemingly having knocked off for Christmas.
This is a shame, since while it’s good that Sky has finally come clean and decided it’s better to draw a line under the endless speculation, it would be fascinating to understand exactly what it is that’s making it so hard for Sky to live up to its HDR promises. Especially as Sky has been supporting HDR in some other European territories for months now.
I’d also personally quite like to know what the ‘other priorities’ the Sky statement refers to might be. But that’s a story for another day, I guess.
Sky still has plenty of other things going for it, of course. It still carries by far the largest amount of live sports coverage in the UK, including The Barclays Premiership football and Formula 1, and it still carries the largest stock of 4K/UHD content. It’s also still unique in the UK for being able to integrate Netflix into both its subscription model and its electronic programme guide and search engine.
Sky’s interface and subscription can include support for Netflix. But you won’t now be able to enjoy … [+]
Photo: Sky’s interface (Sky)
Ironically, though, that Netflix support in some ways just underlines how disappointing and problematic it is for Sky to now be running so late with its HDR support. After all, pretty much every Netflix app you get on TVs, games consoles or streaming boxes now supports HDR. And given that HDR can actually have a bigger impact on picture quality than 4K resolution, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to watch Netflix via Sky when they can get a much better looking picture elsewhere.
It’s worth remembering, too, that while Sky has previously worked hard to build a reputation for leading tech innovation in the TV space, rival UK broadcast services from the BBC, BT Sport and Virgin Media already offer HDR support. And these rivals will now be able to extend their HDR lead over Sky for at least another year.
If I get any more information from Sky I’ll update this story. In the meantime, I guess all HDR-craving Sky subscribers can do is hope that the other priorities referred to in Sky’s messages turn out to be worth it.
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