BSkyB Launches Standalone, Subscription-Based Broadband TV Service

--Service Employs Microsoft Silverlight
--BBC iPlayer Now Accessible through Sky Player

UK satellite TV provider, BSkyB has launched a subscription-based broadband video service, called Sky Player TV, which features both linear channels and VOD and which--unlike its existing Sky Player service--is offered as a standalone product, rather than as a complementary service for subscribers of its flagship pay-TV service (note: the company will continue to provide subscribers to its flagship pay-TV service with access to Sky Player's line-up of on-demand content, in line with their core subscription; subscribers to its Sky Multiroom and Sky Broadband Max offerings also have access to linear channels).

The new service, which can be accessed through both PC's and Macs, offers three subscription packages: a basic package called the Entertainment Pack (includes Disney Channel, British Eurosport, MTV One, National Geographic Channel, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Sky News, and Sky Sports News), and two sports packages that consumers can add to that package. Pricing ranges from £15 per month for the Entertainment Package alone, to £34 for all three packages. The service's live TV channels are offered in a range of quality levels to suit customers' available bandwidth: according to Sky, the highest quality level provides a viewing experience equivalent to standard-definition television. The new service was developed with the support of Microsoft, using the latter's Silverlight and PlayReady technologies. "We want to give customers as much choice as possible not just in what they watch, but in how they watch it," BSkyB COO, Mike Darcey, said in a prepared statement. "Sky Player TV recognizes that, for some, the computer screen is now the preferred screen through which to watch TV. In developing a standalone subscription to a secure online platform, we are responding to the diverse needs of today's customers. We look forward to making the service more compelling with the addition of even more great pay TV entertainment in the New Year."

In other BSkyB news: The company recently began offering access to the BBC's iPlayer catch-up service through the Sky Player. The Sky Player now includes a series of BBC-branded sections, containing information and links to all TV programs available on the BBC iPlayer: once viewers select a BBC program to watch, they are transferred to the BBC iPlayer site for video playback. "Access to BBC content, along with improvements to the user experience, will further support the ongoing success of Sky Player," Griff Parry, BSkyB's director of on-demand, said in a prepared statement. "The combination of more choice and easier access means Sky Player users will find it even simpler to enjoy a wide range of TV content. The addition of links to content from BBC channels further demonstrates Sky's role as a leading online aggregator with access to one of the broadest selections of online video." The BBC iPlayer offers around 400 hours of BBC TV programs each week. All BBC iPlayer TV content is available for free to any visitor to the Sky Player service, including non-Sky TV customers.