Sky’s standalone streaming device, Sky Stream, marks a big shift for Sky, by letting customers sign up without a long-term contract and without needing a dish. But it also brings with it a lot of changes and questions from potential users.
How much does Sky Stream cost exactly? Can you travel with it or use it in another family member’s house? Can you record on it? And what happens to Stream if you unsubscribe from Sky?
We gathered some frequently asked questions about Sky Stream that we’ve been getting from Cord Busters’ readers (and from my own experience, having used Sky Stream for months) – and so I created this ultimate guide, with everything you need to know about Sky’s streaming puck.
Keep in mind that Stream is a new(ish) device for Sky, therefore things are bound to change or get updated in the coming months and years – so I’ll try to keep this guide as updated as possible.
What Is Sky Stream?
Sky Stream is a small, standalone 4K streaming box and service that you connect to your TV via an HDMI cable. Stream launched on October 18, 2022.
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 (Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku, and Google’s Chromecast).
And unlike Sky Glass, where you have to buy and pay for a new TV – Sky Stream can be connected to any TV in your house (and you can get more than one, for different rooms).
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+.
And in addition to Sky’s own channels, Stream also has apps for most of the major streaming services available in the UK – Amazon’s Prime Video, Netflix, Paramount+ and more.
How Much Does Sky Stream Cost?
Unlike Sky’s dish-based solutions (such as Sky Q and older), and similarly to Sky Glass, Sky Stream doesn’t require a long-term contract.
The basic contract is a 31-day rolling contract which you can cancel at any time without penalty charges. But you CAN also go for the 18-month contract – and that will lower your monthly subscription costs.
When you order Sky Stream, you also need to pay for the device itself – a “setup fee” of £39.95 (but that fee is often waived by Sky).
The basic Sky package, which is mandatory for 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 which only has SD content (but will be upgraded to 720p in November).
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. As of this writing, the costs are:
- Sky Cinema (which includes Paramount+) for £13/month on the rolling contract, and £11/month on the 18-month contract.
- Sky Sports for £27/month on the rolling contract, and £25/month on the 18-month contract.
- Sky Kids for £6/month on either contract.
- BT Sport for £30/month on either contract.
If you want to add 4K and Dolby Atmos, that’s another £6/month. And if you want to be able to fast forward adverts – that’s an extra £5/month.
If you want to be able to watch in other rooms – you need the “Whole Home” add-on (see more on that below), which is £12/month, and you have to pay the setup fee again (£39.95 regardless of contract length) for each additional puck (but the second one in your home is sometimes free).
How Do I Get Sky Stream?
Sky Stream can be ordered online directly from Sky, with next-day delivery in some areas.
You can also sign up for Sky Stream in Sky’s stores and hubs – but you won’t necessarily be able to pick it up on the spot – instead, it will be sent to your home (same as ordering it online).
Once the Stream puck arrives, it should already be assigned to your Sky Account, and you then install it yourself – there’s no need for an engineer visit.
Installation just means connecting the Stream box to your TV via HDMI, then connecting it to your broadband – either via WiFi or with an Ethernet cable – and that’s about it.
Do I Have To Sign A Long-term Contract With Sky Stream?
No. That’s a big plus for Sky Stream (as well as Sky Glass), where you can finally get the full Sky experience without signing up for a fixed-term contract.
Instead, the basic contract is on a rolling 31-day basis, which means you can cancel it at any point and not pay any early termination fees.
However, Sky IS still trying to push customers towards a long-term contract, even with Stream – and the monthly subscription costs are cheaper if you go for the long-term contract. But, you’re then “stuck” with it for 18 months.
Do I Own The Sky Stream Box?
When Sky Stream first launched, customers got to “own” the box – but that’s no longer the case. Just like Sky Q, the Stream puck is now a “loan” from Sky.
This means that if something goes wrong with the box, Sky will most likely fix it or replace it for you.
But if you cancel the subscription, you’ll have to send it back to Sky or risk paying a non-return charge.
What Happens To Sky Stream If I Unsubscribe From Sky?
Despite Sky Stream functioning like a streaming stick in a lot of ways – it’s a Sky box first and foremost.
Therefore, if you cancel your Sky subscription, not only will you need to send the puck back – it’ll stop working immediately, and turn into a metal paperweight.
Even the 3rd party apps like Netflix and BBC iPlayer will cease to function. The only way to make anything on Sky Stream work again, is if you resubscribe to Sky Ultimate (the basic mandatory package).
Can I Have Both Sky Stream And Sky Q?
No. Each household can have either Sky Q or Sky Stream, but not both.
If you’re already under contract with Sky Q, you can’t break your contract and get Stream. However, you can replace your Sky Q contract and re-sign a new 18-month contract for Stream.
Once you activate Sky Stream, your Sky Q will immediately get taken off your account and stop working, and you’ll have to return it to Sky.
Can I Have Both Sky Stream And Sky Glass?
Yes. If you buy Sky’s streaming TV – Sky Glass (see our review), you can then add additional Sky Stream pucks and connect them to TVs in other rooms (but you have to add Sky’s Whole Home pack, and pay a one-time fee for each additional puck, with the first one currently being free).
Can I Get More Than One Sky Stream?
Yes, you can get up to six Sky Stream pucks for different rooms of the house.
But you have to add Sky’s Whole Home add-on (£12/month) and pay the setup fee again (£39.95) for each additional puck.
Each Sky Stream will then work independently in each room, but your playlists and watch history will be synched between all the devices in your house.
Can I Use Sky Stream In Another House?
No, you’re not supposed to move your Sky Stream boxes to other houses, as the devices are geo-fenced and should only be used when they’re located in the address of the main account holder.
Furthermore, 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.
This means that you can’t travel with Sky Stream (when going on holiday for example), and it also means you can’t add another Stream puck to your account and let your mother/son/uncle/mate use it in another house.
If you’re subscribed to Sky via Stream, and you want to watch when you’re travelling, you’ll have to use Sky Go (see below).
Can I Resell Sky Stream?
No. Unless you bought your Sky Stream puck before February 23, 2023, the device is a loan – so you’ll have to send it back to Sky if you unsubscribe.
But even if you do own the Stream puck (because you bought it before the rental terms changed), Sky accounts can’t be changed on Stream boxes, so the buyer won’t be able to do anything with a second-hand Stream, as it’s useless without a connected Sky account.
What Broadband Speed Do I Need For Sky Stream?
Sky used to recommend at least 10Mbps.
However, earlier this year Sky changed its recommendation to a minimum broadband speed of 25Mbps (even for HD streaming).
For 4K streaming, or if you have more than one Sky Glass / Sky Stream device (and you intend to use them at the same time) – Sky now recommends a broadband speed of 30Mbps.
Do I Need Sky Broadband For Sky Stream?
No. Unlike competing streaming devices from Virgin Media (their similarly named “Stream”) and BT TV’s 4K Pro Box – Sky Stream can work with any broadband provider, so you don’t have to subscribe to Sky Broadband or change providers.
Can I Watch Freeview on Sky Stream?
Yes, you can watch most Freeview channels on Sky Stream via broadband, without needing an aerial or a satellite dish.
However, keep in mind that not every Freeview channel is available on Stream, and some popular ones like the NOW Music channels are still missing.
Which Streaming Apps Are Available on Sky Stream?
While the list of apps available on Sky Stream is not as comprehensive as dedicated streaming devices like the Fire TV or Roku, most of the major UK streaming services are there.
As of this writing, the streaming apps available on Sky Stream are:
BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel4, My5, STV, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, Lionsgate+, Apple TV+, Discovery+, YouTube, YouTube Kids, Spotify, BBC Sounds, Radio Player, Global Player, Xite, Vevo, Peloton, Playworks, Golf Pass, Tastemade and Highbrow.
Also, some content partners won’t show up as “apps” on Sky Stream, but instead require a direct subscription via Sky – BT Sport is one such example.
Can I Record On Sky Stream?
This is one of the more controversial and confusing aspects of Sky Stream (and Sky Glass), and the answer is a bit complicated.
Unlike Sky Q or set-top Freeview Recorders, Sky Stream doesn’t have a built-in hard drive for recordings. Instead, you get limited “Cloud Recording” capabilities, with the device supposedly being able to record up to 1,000 hours “to the cloud”, and then stream them back to you on demand.
This feature is built around the Sky Stream’s Playlist – when you see a live or future programme in the TV guide, you can press “+” on the remote and mark it for recording. Sort of.
In practice, when you add a programme/film to Stream’s Playlist, one of THREE things may happen: in most cases, it will merely create a “shortcut” thumbnail that then takes you to the streaming version of that content, on Sky or 3rd party apps like BBC iPlayer or All4.
So, you mark the next EastEnders episode on the TV guide, and when you come tomorrow to watch it, it won’t be recorded anywhere for you – instead, BBC iPlayer will open up, and the episode will be streamed from there (assuming that episode is still available on iPlayer – which isn’t always the case).
Only in some cases – a select few Freeview channels and some sports, mainly – will the content actually get recorded to the cloud, for you to be able to watch again (as well as fast-forward or backwards, and save indefinitely).
Worse yet, for some channels – nothing will happen. Since there’s no deal in place between Sky and that channel – you won’t be able to record it to the cloud, AND it doesn’t have an app, so… you can only watch those particular channels live.
However, you can Pause (and then fast-forward) any live channel you’re watching.
- Also See: Sky Stream Recording Explained
Does Sky Stream Support 4K / HDR?
Yes, Sky Stream supports Ultra HD (4K) and HDR.
The supported HDR formats are HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision.
Remember that if you want to watch 4K/HDR content from Sky, you have to pay for the UHD add-on, which is currently £6/month (and, of course, you need a TV that supports 4K).
To watch 4K/HDR content on other streaming services, like Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix – you don’t need the UHD add-on (but you do need to be subscribed to those services, of course – and to Netflix’s Premium tier which includes 4K).
Does Sky Stream Support Dolby Atmos?
Sky Stream’s audio support includes Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos – but it’s really your soundbar/TV’s speakers that do the heavy lifting and need to support Dolby Atmos.
Furthermore, like 4K, if you want Dolby Atmos content from Sky, you need to add the UHD/Dolby Atmos add-on which is £6/month.
Can I Watch BT Sport in 4K On Sky Stream?
BT Sport Ultimate, which airs sporting events in Ultra HD (4K) / HDR was added to Sky Stream (and Sky Glass) on November 2022.
This means that Sky Stream customers (with the appropriate subscription) can enjoy BT Sport Ultimate’s 4K sports programming by going directly to Sky Channel 493.
Can I Upgrade My Netflix Tier on Sky Stream?
Yes. The basic Sky Stream package, Sky Ultimate, currently comes with the Netflix Basic plan, which lets you stream content in 720p, on only one device at a time.
If you want to upgrade your Netflix plan via Sky, you can:
- Upgrade to Netflix Standard – Full HD (1080p), on up to 2 devices at a time) – for an additional £4/month
- Upgrade to Netflix Premium – UltraHD (4K), on up to 4 devices at a time – for an additional £8/month.
You can always downgrade back if you wish – but you can’t remove Netflix completely from your Sky Stream Ultimate bundle.
Also note that following the recent Netflix password-sharing crackdown – those who subscribe to Netflix via Sky can’t (for now, at least) pay for additional Netflix profiles.
What’s The Difference Between Sky Stream And NOW TV?
With all the excitement around the new Sky Stream, people forget Sky already has a long-running, standalone, no-contract streaming service – NOW (formerly known as NOW TV).
Unlike Stream, NOW isn’t tied to a specific streaming box – instead, you can use it on most streaming devices, platforms and Smart TVs sold in the UK – as long as they support the NOW app.
NOW offers all of Sky’s channels, without the Freeview part. The subscription is divided into three separate memberships:
- NOW Entertainment, at £9.99/m, is equivalent to Sky Stream’s Ultimate pack, with two major differences – it includes Kids’ channels (which cost more on Stream), and it DOESN’T include the three Sky Sports channels that are part of Sky Ultimate (Racing, Mix and News).
- NOW Cinema, at £9.99/month, is identical to the Sky Cinema plan on Stream.
- NOW Sky Sports, at £33.99/month, is almost identical to Sky Sports on Stream (with Racing, Mix and News being part of this membership instead of Entertainment).
There’s no 4K content at all on NOW (or Dolby Atmos), and the basic picture quality is just 720p, so not even Full HD. If you want 1080p, you need to add NOW Boost.
At £6/month, Boost adds Full HD (1080p) video quality, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, no adverts (for on-demand content. You’ll still see adverts on Sky’s live channels), and the ability to stream on up to 3 devices at the same time (instead of just one).
- Also See: Our In-Depth Comparison Of Stream VS NOW
Can I Use Sky Go If I Have Sky Stream?
Yes. Sky Go is yet another separate streaming service from Sky, meant to be used on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
If you’re subscribed to Sky via Stream (or Glass), you’re eligible to use Sky Go, with your regular Sky account/credentials.
Note however that Sky Go doesn’t share an interface with Stream, so your watchlist and recommendations won’t sync between Sky Stream and Sky Go, and you can’t set “recordings” or add content to your Stream Playlist when you’re out of the house.
Can I Control Sky Stream With My Voice?
Yes. Sky Stream has a voice control/search feature, that you can use to issue basic commands and search names of films/TV shows/actors etc.
However, unlike Sky Glass, which has a built-in microphone, the Sky Stream puck doesn’t have one, and you have to use the microphone that’s built into the Stream’s remote (after your press the Voice button on the remote).
Some of the voice commands you can use on Sky Stream include:
- Open [App] (Netflix/Disney+/BBC iPlayer etc.)
- Turn On Subtitles
- Fast Forward 30 Seconds
- Go To TV Guide
- [Actor’s Name]
… and more. However, don’t expect Sky Stream to replace Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant anytime soon – it’s not a voice assistant, and it only understands basic commands.
Can I Get Subtitles On Sky Stream?
Yes, you can turn subtitles on and off for most of the content on Sky Stream, with two main caveats:
- There are no subtitles on Sky’s Ultra HD (4K) content. Sky’s been “fixing” this for more than a year.
- Subtitle settings are different on each 3rd party app – so you might have to re-activate the subtitles again, with a different interface, each time you watch something on BBC iPlayer / ITV Hub / All4 / Netflix, etc.
Are There Profiles On Sky Stream?
Yes – profiles (of sorts) were finally added to Sky Stream (and Sky Glass) this year.
On Stream, these are Personalised Playlists.
Instead of making you choose a profile each time you turn the device on – there’s now a “Shared” interface for the entire family, but specific programmes can then be added to personal playlists – so there’s a separate playlist for Dad, a playlist for the 5-year-old, etc., and also a shared Playlist for things the family watches together.
Do I Need A TV Licence For Sky Stream?
The short answer is Yes, but the long answer is – “it depends”. You will need a TV Licence for many of Sky Stream’s use-cases, but not all.
Since Stream features the ‘Playlist’ function where you can add live programmes for later viewing, it doesn’t matter whether this content is later streamed as a catch-up version or a cloud recording of the live show: TV Licensing has clarified that a TV Licence is necessary for both instances.
To understand more about the specific instances and nuances, you can refer to our detailed guide on Sky Stream / Sky Glass and the TV Licence fee.
Note: This article was first published in October 2022 and has since been updated to include new information.