Sky to launch cloud-based PVR

Broadcaster looks to the cloud to head off threat from Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Google

BskyB is working on a cloud-based personal video recorder (PVR) to counter rivals such as Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google from threatening its subscription business with cloud-based television services.

Dubbed Project Ethan, the broadcaster is looking to concoct an entirely new system that will make it easier for customers to access and watch content at any time and through any device.

According to reports by the Sunday Telegraph, programmes will be recorded not on a device's hard drive but stored in the cloud instead. These recordings will then be accessible via the viewer’s main television, smartphone, tablet or laptop.

The software currently being developed would allow the viewer to start watching a programme on one device, pause it, and then continue watching it on another one.

The broadcaster could rollout the cloud PVR to subscribers in the next two years. The new cloud-based box could also record and show 4K or Ultra HD content.

The technology would help the broadcaster use its big data-enabled targeted advertising service to send adverts to viewers in one postcode area and follow up with more ads and special offers to their smartphones.

Andrew Olson, BSkyB’s director of product development, heads up the project. Prior to Sky, Olson was at Comcast where he oversaw its converged products group.

The news comes as more and more companies vie for the living room to deliver TV programmes and films via the cloud. Google recently launched its Chromecast wireless dongle and Amazon its Fire TV device. Both use the cloud to deliver content.

Netflix and Amazon already stream from the cloud to a variety of devices in the home, as well as mobile devices.

Virgin Media is also testing a cloud-based recorder with TiVo.

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