Sky Glass Recording Explained: Can It Replace Freeview Boxes?

, By

This post may contain affiliate links*

One of the major differences between Sky’s streaming TV – Sky Glass – and other Freeview recording devices (including Sky’s own Sky Q), is that Glass doesn’t have any built-in storage space for recordings.

Instead of recording content on the device itself, Sky Glass can supposedly record up to 1,000 hours “to the cloud”, and then stream them back to you on-demand.

However, even that’s not as simple, and as someone who’s been using Glass for more than a year, I can tell you that some programmes that “should” have been recorded, do not become available to watch after the live airing has ended.

With some programmes being recorded directly (to the cloud), some being presented as “bookmarks” to 3rd party streaming services, and some not being available on-demand at all, potential customers are rightly confused.

What Is Sky Glass?

Sky’s 4K TV set was released in late 2021. It features a QLED HDR screen, and a built-in soundbar with six speakers. 

Sky Glass

Unlike Sky’s older services (such as Sky Q), Sky Glass doesn’t use a satellite dish – instead, it relies on broadband, and streams all the content to the TV, much like other streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV and Roku – or streaming services like Sky’s own NOW (see our Sky Glass VS Now comparison).

This means that Sky’s channels and on-demand content, as well as Freeview channels, will be streamed to your TV via the internet.

Even today, Sky Glass doesn’t include the full list of Freeview channels one would get by connecting to an indoor aerial, or even the full list that’s available on Sky Q – and several Freeview channels are missing.

And while Sky Glass does have an aerial port, officially it is only used for “backup purposes” – so, for example, in cases where your internet is down (and you want to at least watch Freeview channels), or if you unsubscribe from Sky.

It’s also worth noting that Sky sells another streaming-based device – the Sky Stream puck.

Sky Stream with remote on table
Sky Stream

Its operating system (Entertainment OS) and capabilities are almost identical to those of Sky Glass – but you don’t need to buy a new TV: See our Sky Stream review.

How Does Recording Work On Sky Glass?

If you have a Freeview recording box (see some of our recommendations), you can set it up to record any live programme that airs on Freeview (or Freesat, with the appropriate box), on the built-in hard drive. Once the recording is done, you can keep it and watch it again at any point.

Since Sky Glass is solely based on streaming – it doesn’t have a hard drive for storing recordings. Instead, everything is based on the “Playlist” feature.

Sky Glass Playlist

The Playlist is where all the content you’re interested in is supposed to reside. If you see a programme you’re interested in on one of the other menus, or while playing content, you can press “+” on your remote – and that programme will be added to your Playlist.

This year, Sky also added Profiles (finally) to Sky Glass and Sky Stream, or as they’re called here – ‘Personalised Playlists’ – so different members of your household can add programmes to different playlists.

At that point, every single episode of that series – past, present and future – will be added to your Playlist.

But what does that mean, exactly? One of three things will happen, depending on the arrangement Sky has with that channel/service:

1. Some programmes will be recorded to the cloud. 

Cloud recordings can be watched whenever you want after the original broadcast, and will be kept on the cloud for 12 months. 

Remember, though, that since these recordings reside on the cloud, and not on your own device – you’ll need broadband to stream and watch them.

Sky Glass Playlist with plus button

But WHICH programmes will be recorded to the cloud? “Some” seems to be Sky’s best answer. It includes:

  • Most (but not all) of Sky’s own content (from Sky’s in-house channels like Sky Atlantic, Sky Witness and the like)
  • Sporting events from Sky Sports and BT Sport
  • Most Freeview terrestrial channels (except for a few detailed below) – at least those that are available on Sky Glass at the moment. 

However, even on terrestrial channels, over the years users have encountered programmes that were never recorded.

And indeed, according to Sky, “there may be specific programmes that are not recordable from these channels too.”

It’s worth noting that “Recorded” to the cloud is also a bit of a confusing term in this instance – most of these programmes don’t actually get actively recorded when you press a button – they’re already in the cloud, and “Playlisting” them simply gives you a handy bookmark/shortcut for the streamed versions of those programmes.

2. Some programmes will direct you to 3rd party apps

Content from some of the major broadcasters can’t be recorded/streamed directly through Sky Glass.

Instead, when you add a programme from one of them to the Playlist, you will merely see a “shortcut” that takes you to that broadcaster’s dedicated app. These include:

  • BBC iPlayer
  • ITVX
  • Channel4
  • My5
  • STV Player

So let’s say you mark a BBC programme with “+” on your Sky Glass: you will still get thumbnails of all the episodes of that programme on your playlist. 

However, when you want to watch that programme – Glass is going to open the BBC iPlayer app, and you’ll have to watch it on iPlayer.

And the same goes for content from ITV (via ITVX), Channel 4, My5 and STV Player. This also means you need to have an account on each of these broadcasters’ streaming apps.

Long-term availability is then dependent on that channel and the specific programme/film – many programmes on BBC iPlayer, for example, are available for 12 months.

But others are removed after less than 30 days – so those will be removed from your Playlist as well (unlike a “real” recording, where you could keep the programme indefinitely, at least in theory).

Sky Glass TV Guide
Freeview On Sky Glass

This “shortcut” method is also true for the big streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and others, where you will be sent to the respective streamer’s app – but that has always been the case, even on Sky Q and Freeview recorders.

3. Some content can only be watched live

And finally, there’s some content you can only watch live – or, at best, “restart” while the show is still airing.

This includes:

  • Music Channels: You can add programmes from music channels to your Playlist, but you can only restart them, or watch live during the broadcast.
  • News Programmes: This depends on the channel. Sky News, Sky Sports News and CNBC News can all be recorded. But “The key terrestrial news programmes are made available for up to 24 hours after the broadcast.”

Bottom Line: What CAN I Record On Sky Glass?

Even after using Sky Glass for more than 18 months, I can still say that it’s sometimes a game of trial-and-error when it comes to recording and adding content to the Playlist.

It’s pretty clear what you CAN’T record directly: content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV, Music channels and some News channels (and, as always, the major streaming-only services).

As for the rest – you can record some of the content to the cloud, but not all. Will there be cases when you set something to record, on a “supported” channel, only to find out that a specific programme was NOT recorded? It has gotten better since launch – but the answer is still Yes.

While the aim of this is to simplify things for users with one “Playlist”, being unable to know exactly what you can and can’t record, and being sent to either a cloud recording or a 3rd party app – can get confusing.

Sky Glass pink - home

If you’re not someone who records a lot from Freeview, all this won’t make much of a difference to you. 

One advantage of the Playlist is that if you have several Sky Glass and/or Sky Stream devices (or Sky Glass in one room and Stream in others) – the Playlist synchronises across them, so you’ll have the same list of favourites and watchlist history across all your devices.

It doesn’t, however, sync with the Sky Go app – so if you watch any of Sky’s content on the go, it won’t be synchronized with your Sky Glass / Sky Stream devices.

Note: This article was originally published on December 2021, and then updated with new information.

For more Sky Glass coverage, make sure you Subscribe to our free newsletter.

6 thoughts on “Sky Glass Recording Explained: Can It Replace Freeview Boxes?”

  1. It seems like sky has gone backwards, sky Q with the hard drive attached and was good, to me all they should have changed was the input to the device streaming to replace the dish.
    Instead with are faced with this nonsense.

  2. This is really helpful. It’s certainly confusing when you don’t know if you’ve ‘recorded’ a program or not. Over Christmas we have found that many films we set to ‘record’ from Freeview channels for watching later were ‘redirected’ to a subscription channel to view (which if you don’t have you can’t view) which is frustrating. It would be helpful to have an ‘advisory’ when setting. Some don’t even appear! A recent example is the latest James Bond which simply vanished! However, all things considered, the tv hardware is terrific and the software, generally, is intelligent. But not having a true record option can lead to the occasional disappointment.

  3. Thanks for this. I was considering Sky Glass, but it sounds like a fiasco, if you can’t record all channels and it doesn’t even say “sorry, we can’t record this” before you’ve attempted to record something. Assuming there’ve been no upgrades since this was written in January, I’ll look elsewhere.

    • For the time being, Sky doesn’t let people have Sky Glass AND Sky Q on the same account. So you would need to get the Sky Puck instead of the Q for the other room.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

man watchin streaming tv on tablet

Get Cord Buster's Free UK TV Streaming Cheatsheet


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get TV And Tech News

Get Bonus Streaming TV Guide