Technology

“We want HDR to be the new norm”: Sky ramps up HDR content, improves personalisation for Sky Q

Sky is ramping up its output of HDR content, and is introducing a number of new user-centric features which improve personalisation and navigation. It’s also overhauling its Sky Go app, adding new features like Sky Recap.

Loss of satellite signal has inevitably led to a loss of services for the platform, but now you’ll be able to continue to watch recordings, stream video on demand and access apps. The platform isn’t yet ready to offer a full service delivered via IP though, for those unable to use a satellite dish, although we do know this continues to be under review.

New to programme information will be an HDR icon.

“We want to make HDR the new norm,” Fraser Stirling, Group Chief Product Officer, told The Luxe Review.

The broadcaster is also looking at HDR formats beyond HLG. 

“We’re a content aggregator, the best, so we are looking at all formats,” says Stirling. “HDR10 and HLG are the big ones, Dolby Vision is in the background. HDR10+ is very much what we are looking at.”

While there’s no new news on sports in HDR, beyond plans for Olympics coverage and the Premier League, Stirling did let on that it was interested in adding HDR to 1080p coverage, saying it may well suit some sports.

“It could be that sports would suit 1080p HDR. We think there’s value there, in terms of a spatial resolution and colour space bump.”

“It could be that sports would suit 1080p HDR. We think there’s value there…”

Sky Q is getting more personal, thanks to algorithms

Sky originals to be made available in HDR this December include  Tin Star: Liverpool, Gangs of London and the Emmy award-winning drama Chernobyl.

More than 40 films will land on the platform in HDR during December, including Emma, Little Women, Bad Boys for Life, Dolittle, the Back to the Future trilogy, Le Mans 66, the entire Harry Potter catalogue.

Voice search is also becoming more naturalistic, as the platform leans more heavily into algorithmic search. Users can ask “What should I watch”  or “Show me great TV” to see curated content from Sky and Netflix.

There will also be a greater emphasis on parental guidance, allowing parents to peruse info about ‘positive role models’ and the like for movies and shows.

As the platform improves personalization, we’re told that as much as 80 per cent of content rails are now being generated by preference algorithms, so theoretically no two Sky Q home pages will look the same. One subtle difference is that the rails themselves are to be made slightly bigger.

And while Sky Q still lacks profiles, it’s making more use of  ‘favourited’ TV channels with a new personalised What’s On Now and Next rail on the home page, to save trawling through the EPG.

Coming to Sky Go is Sky Q’s  Sky Recap feature, along with video shorts showing the latest trending sport news, interviews and action across Football, F1, Golf, Cricket and Boxing.

Stirling told us that Sky Recap is also coming to Sky F1, following user demand.

What movies can I watch in 4k HDR on Sky Q?

Here’s the full list of feature films heading to Sky Cinema this Winter available in 4k HDR, many also with Dolby Atmos audio…

The Secret Garden (2020)
Dolittle (2020)
Joker (2019)
Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
Le Mans ’66 (2019)
Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (2019)
JoJo Rabbit (2019)
Last Christmas (2019)
The Hunt (2020)
Doctor Sleep (2019)
The Invisible Man (2020)
A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood (2019)
Bloodshot (2020)
Harriet (2019)
Just Mercy (2019)
The Good Liar (2019)
Shazam! (2019)
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
Rocketman (2019)
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Harry Potter and the Death Hallows Part 2 (2011)
Batman Begins (2005)
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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