Sky Q On Its Way Out As Sky Makes Major Job Cuts

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As the era of traditional satellite television wanes, Sky is gearing up for a future dominated by streaming services, signalling that the days of Sky Q, its satellite-based flagship product, are numbered.

This shift is underscored by Sky’s announcement of substantial job cuts, targeting around 1,000 roles, with a significant portion in satellite engineering.

This move towards streaming technology, headlined by Sky Stream and Sky Glass, is a clear response to viewers’ shifting preferences, who increasingly favour on-demand, internet-based content.

So while Sky Q isn’t going away yet, the surging popularity of Sky Glass and Sky Stream is undeniable, underscored by Sky Glass being named the UK’s best-selling television in 2023.

A Shift Toward Streaming

Sky (which is owned by American giant Comcast) is reportedly undergoing a major reorganisation, leading to around 1,000 job cuts (about 4% of its workforce), which will significantly impact its engineering workforce.

TV Satellite dish engineer

Sources from LBC reveal that Sky initiated these job cuts during a call with the operations team, marking the start of a consultation period regarding redundancies.

This decision, though abrupt for many employees, is seen internally as a strategic shift rather than a mere market pressure reaction, and a direct response to the changing media consumption landscape, where streaming services are becoming increasingly popular.

As more customers lean towards digital-only services like Sky Glass and Sky Stream, the need for traditional satellite-based roles, especially within engineering, diminishes.

The company notes that a majority of new TV customers opt for products like Sky Glass and Sky Stream, which utilise streaming television, over satellite-based services like Sky Q and the older Sky boxes.

Sky Glass - three sizes
Sky Glass

This pivot is especially significant considering that in 2023, Sky Glass was the UK’s best-selling television, according to Sky. 

A Sky spokesperson underscored this shift: “The launch of Sky Glass and Sky Stream represents a shift in our business to deliver TV over IP rather than satellite.

“Customers are choosing Sky Glass and Sky Stream which don’t require specialist installation, leading us to change the number of roles needed to deliver our services.”

The Future of Sky: Sky Stream VS Sky Q

Sky Glass, Sky’s broadband-based 4K TV, was Sky’s first step into a streaming-based future – but it was Sky Stream, launched in October 2022, that represented the most significant departure from traditional satellite-based services like Sky Q.

Sky Stream on table
Sky Stream

Sky Stream operates purely over broadband, streaming all content directly to a box, similar to other streaming devices like Amazon’s Fire TV and Roku – but with Sky’s unique operating system.

This service shares many features with Sky Glass, including the same interface, but differs in that it connects to any TV, so customers don’t need to buy a new telly.

Furthermore, Sky Stream (and Sky Glass) work with any broadband provider – meaning the potential customer base is quite large – unlike Virgin Media’s Stream and EE TV’s Apple TV platforms, which only work with those companies’ broadband service.

Sky Stream living room front
Sky Stream

Sky Stream’s ease of setup, requiring just a connection to a TV and broadband, stands in contrast to Sky Q’s need for a satellite dish installation – and an engineer visit – which helps to explain how Sky can reduce the number of employed engineers, as Sky Stream becomes dominant.

However, a notable difference between Sky Stream and Sky Q, where Q has the advantage (according to some, at least) – is in the recording capabilities.

Sky Stream utilises a global “Playlist” feature for recording, allowing users to stream programmes as long as they are available on the connected streaming service.

Sky Glass playlists
Sky’s Playlist

This contrasts with Sky Q’s local recording function, which lets you keep recorded programmes indefinitely.

Pricing Structure: Sky Stream vs Sky Q

Sky Stream offers a more flexible pricing model compared to Sky Q. Customers can choose between a 31-day rolling contract, offering maximum flexibility, or an 18-month contract, which reduces the monthly cost.

The basic package, Sky Ultimate, includes Sky Entertainment, Freeview channels over broadband, and Netflix.

Pricing for additional packages and services like Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sky Kids, and TNT Sports varies based on the chosen contract. 

Sky Q, in contrast, requires a long-term contract with a setup fee for the satellite dish installation.

Sky Q official
Sky Q

Its pricing structure includes various add-ons and subscription packs, making it a bit more complex than Sky Stream.

All in all, Sky Q’s pricing for the basic package and additional services like Sky Cinema and Sky Sports is somewhat similar to Sky Stream’s 18-month contract (plus the setup fee) – but recently, most of Sky’s promotional offers have been geared towards Stream and Glass – and not Sky Q.

Streaming The Future

Sky’s decision to reduce its workforce and pivot towards streaming services mirrors broader industry trends.

As we reported earlier this week, Channel 4 is also downsizing, as part of a plan to move into a streaming-first future. 

And, with the planned launch of “Freely” later this year, Freeview and Freesat are also embarking on a journey to eventually replace the aerial-based and satellite-based channels with broadband-based channels.

Freely on a TV

Whether you like it or not, streaming seems to be the way forward, and Sky Q customers will, at some point, need to move on (but not for several years, it seems).

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man watchin streaming tv on tablet

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