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Sky preps VR app and UHD in Europe

Sky Italia HQSky has confirmed it will launch a virtual reality app this summer as part of its commitment to the burgeoning technology.

Announcing its results for the 12 months ended June 30, Sky said that the launch of the VR app would cement the company’s “leadership in innovative, immersive content”.

The app is part of the company’s “new mission to create high-end productions, exclusive to Sky VR” and follows the establishment earlier this year of Sky VR Studios – a production hub for immersive VR content.

Sky first announced the creation of its VR studio back in March, at the same time as it released its first two films, shot during Formula 1 testing in Barcelona.

These were produced in conjunction with Formula One Management and Williams Martini Racing and were made available via the Facebook 360 Video platform.

At the time, the pay TV broadcaster said that over thecoming year, its VR studio will create more than 20 individual film spanning cultural and sporting events.

Confirmation of the VR app launch came as Sky announced a number of planned innovations and launches, including the rollout of its Sky 1 and Sky Cinema Family channels this autumn in Germany and Austria and the release of its next generation entertainment system Sky Q in Italy in 2017.

Sky is also launching a new set-top box with Ultra HD capabilities in Germany, Austria and Italy this autumn, the company has confirmed.

The new box, which was already in development prior to the UK release of Sky Q earlier this year, will be an upgrade on the current generation of Sky+ box and will be released ahead of a planned international rollout of Sky Q. 

The new hardware will be named Sky+ Pro in Germany and Austria, and MySky in Italy, and will be UHD-ready, have built in WiFi and a 1TB hard drive.

A Sky spokesperson confirmed to TBI sister title DTVE that Sky’s UHD-ready next generation entertainment service, Sky Q, will launch in Germany, Austria and Italy at some point during 2017.

Announcing its results for the 12 months ended June 30, Sky said that the new box rollouts are part of bigger development plans for each of its non-UK markets.

Sky stated that its first priority for German and Austria is to “broaden the business in 2016/17 by developing entertainment for the whole household” – and will do so by launching its Sky 1 and Sky Cinema Family channels there this autumn.

The Sky+ Pro set-top box release is Sky’s second priority for its German-speaking markets, while its third priority is the launch of new streaming service, Sky Ticket.

This will be a rebranded version of the current Sky Online proposition, offering customers a flexible streaming service that builds onSky’s experience with Now TV in the UK and Italy.

“Sky Ticket will enable us to tap further into the pay lite segment in Germany and Austria, with an enhanced customer offer that includes, for the first time, Sky Sport day, week and month passes,” said Sky.

In Italy, Sky said it has three strategic priorities: to provide the “very best TV experience”; to offer its services on a choice of platforms; and to drive revenue growth across subscription and additional revenue streams.

“In 2016/17 we will progress this further, delivering new shows including The Young Pope and 1993; innovations including Sky Go Extra, the Sky Kids App and improving the MySky proposition with our next generation box with HD on demand content,” according to Sky.

It also said that it will expand its Now TV online service in Italy by launching on more devices there the first quarter, having firstrolled out Now TV in this market in June. It will also introduce Sky AdSmart to Italy.