Sky TV customers, take note: If you’re subscribed to Sky’s streaming services – Sky Glass and particularly Sky Stream – you may now encounter unexpected charges if you share your subscriptions or choose to watch outside your home.
Sky’s policy around sharing the Sky Stream puck seems to echo Netflix’s upcoming measures against password sharing, hinting at a potential industry trend.
According to Sky’s terms of service, Sky Puck and Glass are meant to be used “from your registered home address”. Therefore, if you take your Puck to a different house, and watch Sky from there – you may end up paying an extra £26/month (see full details below).
But some Sky users online are already contemplating whether this is a “backdoor way” of sharing your Sky subscription – and its cost – with family members or even friends.
This is exactly what Netflix is doing with its upcoming ‘Extra Members’ charge, which will make you pay an extra fee if you share your Netflix password (and account) with others.
However, Sky still maintains that you’re NOT supposed to use your Puck outside of your home, and doing so will be in breach of your contract – so the £26 extra charge may be more of a penalty than a fee – but it still raises some interesting ideas about Sky’s possible plans for the future.
What’s Sky Stream?
Sky Stream is a small, standalone 4K streaming box and service that you connect to your TV via an HDMI cable (see our Sky Stream review).
Unlike Sky Q and Sky’s older boxes in the UK, Sky Stream doesn’t use a satellite dish – instead, it relies on broadband (via WiFi or Ethernet), and streams all the content to the box, much like other streaming devices (such as Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku, and Google’s Chromecast).
Once you sign up for Sky’s service, you get all of Sky’s channels (as well as 3rd party channels and some Freeview channels) via broadband – much like you do on streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.
Unlike Sky Glass, however – you can get multiple Sky Stream pucks – for different rooms in your house. You would need to pay for Sky’s whole-home add-on (currently £12/month), and possibly a set-up fee (depending on how many pucks you have) – but then you get your full Sky subscription on each puck.
The basic Sky package that you must have with Stream is Sky Ultimate, which includes Sky Entertainment (a pack of channels like Sky Atlantic, Sky Max and others), Freeview, and the basic Netflix plan.
The rolling-contract version of this package on Sky Stream costs £29/month, and the same plan, with the 18-month contract, is £26/month.
On top of that, you can add more packs and channels from Sky and 3rd parties, such as Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sky Kids and more.
Note that following a change in Sky’s terms, you no longer “own” the device – the Stream puck is now a loan, and you have to send it back if you cancel Sky.
The Price Of Sharing Your Sky Subscription
This may sound strange to longtime Sky subscribers – as there was never an easy way to “share” your Sky subscription before, or take it with you when travelling – as it needed the satellite connection in your home.
But with Sky Stream (and Sky Glass) based on broadband and streaming – people can, in theory at least, just pick up their Sky Puck – carry it over or hand it over to a family member or a friend – and watch Sky in that person’s house.
When Sky Stream first launched, we were told by Sky that the puck is geo-fenced, and can only be used at the subscriber’s registered home address – the address on their account.
The assumption was that Sky Stream would simply not work if you tried to use it outside of your house, with Sky potentially using a combination of technologies (such as your IP address or WiFi network) to determine if you’re at your registered address.
At some point, however, Sky added this clause to its Stream contract:
“If you or any other person uses any of the TV services on Sky Glass or Sky Stream puck anywhere other than your home address you will be in breach of this contract and we may charge you an Additional Location Charge or suspend certain subscription services for use at that other address in accordance with clause 4.16 below.
“We use data received from compatible devices and network connections you use to access your TV Services to ensure you are only using your TV Services at your address.”
A dedicated Sky help page adds more information about the Additional Location Charge – and the entire process.
If Sky identifies that your Sky Glass TV or Sky Stream puck is being used at a different address, they will notify you via email and a message on your account.
This is the first warning, asking you to stop this practice as soon as possible.
Sky will send up to two notifications before taking further action. If your Sky equipment continues to be used at a different address after these warnings, the additional location charge will automatically be applied to your bill.
The amount will cover an additional subscription fee – £26.
But if you’re subscribed to additional content add-ons – such as Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, etc. – Sky’s page implies that you will still only be charged an extra £26 – and not the full price of your subscription.
Keep in mind, with this also being a breach of your Sky contract – Sky is well within its rights to suspend your account, and they may choose to do so instead (or in addition to) charging the location fee.
Sky and Netflix: Is ‘Paid Sharing’ a Shared Future?
As mentioned, the Additional Location Charge sounds somewhat similar to Netflix’s “Paid Sharing” fee, which is coming to the UK soon.
The paid sharing scheme (also known as “Extra Members”) lets Netflix subscribers add discounted paid sub-accounts for people they don’t live with, each with their own profile, personalized recommendations, login and password.
Netflix’s Standard Plan subscribers can add one extra member, and Premium subscribers can currently add up to 2 extra members.
I’m sure Sky does NOT want to encourage account sharing, at this point in time at least.
So, is the Additional Local Charge just a penalty for users who might be thinking about sharing their Sky Pucks (giving it to a student who’s going to uni, for example) – or is it the first step for a possible future ‘Paid Sharing’ scheme from Sky?
I reached out to Sky for this article, but the company had no further information to share at this time.
For now, remember that sharing your Sky Puck with friends or family might seem like a friendly – or cost-saving – gesture, but it could end up costing you more than you bargained for, or even get your account suspended.
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