Sky’s sports channels are an expensive way of watching certain sports, including Premier League football and Formula 1. If you don’t want to spend over £40 per month on a satellite dish and full set of Sky Sports channels and don’t mind viewing on a small screen with the benefit of being on the move then the Sky Sports app could be for you.
In fact, if you are already a Sky Sports subscriber then you can already log into your SkyID account on up to 2 Apple iOS devices (such as an iPhone or iPod Touch) and view the same array of channels you are entitled to on an iOS device for free as a part of your package using a universal app called Sky Go.
For those of us who don’t have a subscription, Sky allow you to pay a subscription of £9.99 a month for all their Sky Sports channels on their special Sky Sports app. This includes Sky Sports 1-4, F1, Sky Sports News, Sky News, ESPN and At The Races.
The Sky Sports app is available from the App store as a free download. It’ll show you the schedule of all the sports channels available from Sky including their F1 coverage so you can see what you could watch.
Before you can pay for the app you must set up a SkyID. This consists of a Sky username and password and an email address for registration purposes.
The subscription is usually £9.99 applied as an in-app purchase (paid from an itunes account) for the iPod Touch or iPhone version of the app but this month it was on special offer for just £4.99. There is an iPad version of the app with the same non-Subscriber in-app cost but the £4.99 subscription apparently only allows live streaming of Sky Sports News on Apple’s larger screen.
Be aware that AppleIDs are now being forced to apply extra security in the form of 3 security questions plus an optional alternative email address and a confirmation question regarding your year of birth.
I had read some complaints about people being unable to access the Barcelona v Chelsea match last week but I was able to get in immediately and stream the Sky channels from the word go so perhaps it was a technical glitch rather than oversubscription on the streaming server.
I opted to switch off automatic renewals in the application (if you don’t you’ll end up paying a repeating subscription of £9.99 from June) but Sky have thoughtfully included instructions on how to stop the automatic renewals.
Once you have logged into the service you can view the channels at your leisure and, as usual, the Apple interface is very intuitive and user friendly.
Picture quality on an iPod Touch was reasonable but encoding artifacts were easily visible especially when the camera panned quickly or dissolved from a different scene and a quick comparison with the Radio 5 Live commentary revealed that the Sky stream was approximately 40 seconds behind. Obviously Sky have opted for this to reduce the amount of network traffic they are streaming, make it stable, and ensure that the quality is merely adequate and in no way a replacement for seeing football on the big screen.
There are also specific limitations with the iPhone version of the app, however, and they do make sense for the price that the app is on offer for. The Sky app will only work when shown on the screen of the iPhone or iPod Touch. Airplay streaming to AppleTV (or any other iOS device) is not supported and the video out function of the iPod Touch or iPhone is not supported either. This is clearly meant to stop people from connecting their portable devices up to a big screen and bypass a full Sky subscription.
I would say that the special offer of £4.99 per month was possibly worth it as a trial but £9.99 a month is quite steep especially as the service is free to users who subscribe to Sky Sports along with every other channel the user is entitled to. There will be a group of people for whom a full Sky subscription is out of the question but they might just opt for being able to keep up with their favourite sports on the go.
If this suits you, then it’s certainly worth a look.
The Sky Sports app requires iOS version 4.3 and is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. The app is free to download but in-app subscription to activate viewing will normally cost £9.99 per month on a repeating subscription or free to existing subscribers who log in with a SkyID which has a relevant subscription attached. The app is currently on a special offer price of £4.99 until the end of the month.