Sky Player for Windows Media Center

It’s been visible for sometime, however today is the first day that the Sky Player functionality in Windows Media Center works. I’ve never used Sky Player online before so I had a bit of work getting my account setup and the rights to access our subscribed channels but after about 15-30mins I had it all working.

The UI is clean and mostly in-line with the style of Windows Media Center. Some elements such as the TV Guide I felt where not sympathetic to the Media Center UI and should be updated to give a better feel of integration.

The Now Playing mini-menu items also aren’t Media Center-esk at all. They are evidently Sky’s UI at work here, and again I feel they should be integrated into the Media Center look at feel.

The number of channels available is a bit on the slim side – I was expecting to see the full line-up available making a seamless experience across Sky+ or Sky+HD set-top and WMC (not to mention Xbox 360) but this is not the case.

The channels currently available are as follows:

  • G.O.L.D.
  • Sky Real Lives
  • Sky Arts 1
  • Sky Screen 1
  • Sky Screen 2
  • MTV
  • Sky Sports 1
  • Sky Sports 2
  • Sky Sports 3
  • Sky Sports Xtra
  • Sky Sports News
  • Eurosport UK
  • Eurosport 2 UK
  • ESPN
  • ESPN Classic
  • Sky News
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Wild
  • History
  • Eden
  • Crime
  • Cartoon Network
  • Boomerang
  • Nickeloden
  • Disney Channel
  • Nick Jr.
    I was only able to view a small handful of the channels because we no longer have Multiroom, nor do we subscribe to Sky Broadband Unlimited – More on this in a minute.
    The whole experience is Silverlight powered which was to be expected, hence using the UI elements from the normal web based Sky Player.
    You get the ability to rent on-demand content such as Lie to Me and there are Sky Movies and Sky Box Office films available for rental also.
    My biggest beef with this offering from Sky is the pricing. For me without Sky Multiroom or Sky Broadband Unlimited, to access channels I already pay for in my living room would cost me and extra £9.75 a month, whilst programmes like Lie to Me which I can watch and record on my Sky+ box for free with our subscription which includes Sky 1, however using the on-demand features it would cost me £1.75 to rent it.
    I understand Sky need to make money but I think they are taking the biscuit in charging people an extra £9.75 for the privilege of using WMC or Xbox 360 to view Sky content, and not even the full channel line-up at that, but to then charge to access on-demand content which you can record for free it the last straw.
    I won’t be paying for it for certain, but then again, I refuse to pay £10 for Sky+HD when the line-up of HD channels is far from what US networks offer for no extra charge, and the limitation of 2 tuners still.
    I’m going to be starting a petition on Facebook or somewhere to try and get Sky to bring out a quad tuner box – Then I may consider paying for Sky+HD.

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Richard works as a Cloud Consultant for Fordway Solution where his primary focus is to help customers understand, adopt and develop with Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and System Center. Richard Green is an IT Pro with over 15 years' of experience in all things Microsoft including System Center and Office 365. He has previously worked as a System Center consultant and as an internal solutions architect across many verticals. Outside of work, he loves motorbikes and is part of the orange army, marshaling for NGRRC, British Superbikes and MotoGP. He is also an Assistant Cub Scout Leader.