Sky Sports Talk Down Champions League

Arsenal vs. Chelsea, Manchester United vs. Manchester City, Arsenal vs. Spurs. These are clashes between giants of the game, swinging their weight around in an effort to reign supreme. It’s nothing if not exciting, but for those months between seasons, a different type of battle takes hold, as TV channel wages war with TV channel. It’s no secret that BT Sport and Sky Sports are in direct competition, and their rivalry only grows hotter with each passing day.

Since its launch in 2013, BT Sport has found itself an audience and a large number of Premier League games, thanks to their surprise performance in the Premier League rights auction of 2011 which saw them land 38 live games per season until 2016, and the most recent rights auction which will see them net 42 games per season from 2016 to 2019. From there, they worked tirelessly to bring other footballing competitions to the channel, including the FA Cup, Serie A, Ligue 1, Europa League and, of course, the Champions League.

That last competition caused some serious heat between BT and Sky, as BT won the bidding at £897 million for three years of exclusive coverage. Understandably, Sky losing out on the highest quality footballing competition in the world to the upstart BT Sport stung just a little bit, especially when you consider that BT Sport is free to view.

Needless to say, Sky are still a little sore about the whole thing, and the boss of Sky Sports, Barney Francis, recently demonstrated that in a blog post, where he explained how he’s not upset about the breakup at all. Indeed, he claimed that Champions League football accounted for just 2.5% of the viewers for Sky Sports, and that the Premier League was seven times bigger than the European competition.

In the blog, Mr Francis said ‘Over the last five seasons we have seen Champions League audiences fall 38 per cent. Last season we saw our lowest ever average match audience and not a single European game appeared in our top 40 football matches. In football, it’s the intense rivalry of our domestic competitions that matters most to customers. You only have to look at the viewing figures to see the evidence.’

It’s a compelling argument, but it doesn’t obscure the fact that Sky lost one of its big name competitions to its most direct competition at a time when subscriber numbers are crucial to paying off the massive bill they’ve got with the new Premier League rights deal. It’s pretty hard to imagine that Sky are happy with the way things are, and are simply firing off a few shots to remind customers that they’re still the place where you can see the lions share of Premier League games, something they will hope will keep customers from cancelling on the Sky billing number.

For BT Sport, meanwhile, it’s just another huge tournament to add to their roster. The price, meanwhile, is going up. At the moment, BT Sport is free to those with BT broadband packages, but with the launch of new channels BT Sport Europe, BT Sport Showcase and BT Sport Ultra HD, you’ll need to pay £5 per month in order to access all the great new games. BT Sport 1 will remain free, but it will be renamed BT Sport Lite.

Sky Arts Awards Five Scholarships

It’s of little doubt that the South Bank Sky Arts Awards are a major event each year. Hosted by Melvyn Bragg for the last two years, it’s been the only awards show in the world to honour all of the arts, from dancing to TV via visual art, movies and the stage. It’s a fantastic night and features some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry, but it’s also a night where some of the best young talent from across the UK can have their lives changed forever. I speak, of course, about the Sky Arts Scholarships programme.

The programme is open to UK residents aged between 18 and 30, and the winners receive £30,000 each in order to advance their artistic endeavours and cover the cost of living for a year, enabling young artists to focus their efforts on their art alone. In addition, the scholarship comes with mentoring from Sky and the Arts industry. It’s a consistently popular programme and one which sees tens of thousands of young artists enter via online or through the Sky customer services.

Now in its fourth year, the Sky Academy Arts Scholarships have supported 20 young and emerging artists across a range of creative disciplines. This year, five artists were once again chosen, including one which was awarded exclusively to an Irish applicant, continuing Sky’s tradition of supporting the Arts in Ireland. The five winners are as follows:

Sarah Maple (age 30, UK)
Sarah is a visual artist from Crawley. In 2007 Sarah won the “4 New Sensations” competition for emerging artists, run by Charles Saatchi, and since then has exhibited artwork, films and performances internationally. Sarah’s work is a form of activism, using wit and humour to engage audiences with issues of gender, religion and politics. Her Sky Academy arts Scholarship project, working titled “I Disagree With What You Say” aims to create an exhibition of new paintings, photography and performances based on the concept of freedom of speech.

Adebayo Fakos (age 29, UK)
Adebayo is a music producer based in London. Having begun his career in the UK underground scene, Adebayo has produced music for signed and unsigned artists including Giggs, Wretch 32 and JME. Adebayo’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project will focus on creating an EP comprised mostly of house music, followed by a live performance with collaborating artists.

Jonnie Bayfield (age 22, UK)
Jonnie is a writer and performer from Great Yarmouth, currently living in London. His previous projects have included a variety of comedy, new writing and devised work with his theatre company Caligula’s Alibi. Jonnie’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project is to write an original novel with the working title “Coaster” and develop an accompanying performance piece based around growing up in the extremities of rural England. It follows Oscar Lime, a rudderless young man, as he attempts to come to terms with adulthood by stealing money from an elderly lady with dementia.

Anisa Haghdadi (age 25, UK)
Anisa is a creative producer living and working in Birmingham. She set up her first social enterprise aged 15 and in 2012 was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to education and young people through the work of her most recent social enterprise, Beatfreeks. Anisa’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project, “Learn and Build” (LAB) will provide space, both physical and mental, for an eco-system of young creative innovators including social entrepreneurs, activists and artists to sprint work in an agile environment, culminating in a multi-disciplinary ‘Festival of Audacity’.

Kevin Gaffney (age 28, Ireland)
Kevin is a visual artist from Dublin, working in photography and film. His work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals internationally, including the Sapporo International Art Festival (Japan, 2014) and the Poetry Project at the Royal Hibernian Academy (Dublin, 2013). For his Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project, Kevin plans to create and exhibit a new body of work titled “Tectonic Plates of Conversion” exploring areas of forgotten industries which remain as spectres on the Irish landscape.

Sky Sports Shows Most Watched Premier League Matches Again

If all the football, rugby, tennis, golf and cricket broadcast on Sky Sports wasn’t enough to fuel your desire for competition, there’s also the meta competition going on between Sky Sports and BT Sport. Coming out of nowhere in 2013, BT Sport snapped up a good number of Premier League matches and set about trying to dethrone Sky Sports as the top sports broadcaster in the country. It did that by assembling a compelling line up of sports broadcasting, including the Europa League, FA Community Shield, the FA Cup and the Champions League. Their other masterstroke was giving BT Sport away for free to anyone who had a BT Internet connection or took BT Vision on as their TV package. All of a sudden, Sky not only had a credible rival in the world of football broadcasting, it had one which was prepared to attack the very business model that Sky Sports is based on – subscription.

Of course, Sky always had an ace up its sleeve – first pick games. As part of their lot in the Premier League Rights Auction, Sky get first dibs on some of the biggest games of the season, so that clashes like Man City vs. Man United and Chelsea vs. Liverpool tend to wind up on Sky Sports rather than their rival. Last year, Sky made a big deal in their marketing that “the games that matter” happened on Sky, and they’re at it again this year with the news that 49 of the top 50 most watched Premier League clashes were exclusive to Sky Sports this season.

It’s an exact repeat of the numbers Sky boasted about last year but this time featured every single one of the 20 sides in the Premier League, which truly highlights what a thrilling year it was for the top flight of English football, and how important every game was towards the end. The news comes just as Sky Sports ramp up for a huge summer of sport for Sky Sports viewers to enjoy with a schedule that includes The Ashes, every Major golf tournament, every Formula One weekend, England’s IRB World Cup warm-up matches and the build up to the 2015/2016 season of Premier League football, just in case you were considering getting on the Sky phone numbers to cancel your subscription.

Sky Sports Managing Director Barney Francis said: “We’ve offered 49 of the top 50 matches two seasons running now, showing that Sky Sports continues to be the home of the matches that matter. Football fans should expect more of the same from Sky Sports next season and of course, more matches and an even stronger selection of picks from 2016/17.

Francis added: “Before then, it’s another huge summer of sport across our seven channels with an unrivalled choice of the biggest events including The Ashes, Major golf and every Formula One® Grand Prix weekend live.”

Global football icon Thierry Henry, who joined Sky Sports’ football coverage in January, commented: “This is why I chose Sky Sports. I wanted to work on the best matches and this season has been an incredible experience. I can’t wait for more of the same when we’re back in August.”

Programme Preview: Fungus the Bogeyman

Whilst the rest of us are busy folding up our shorts in time for our summer holidays or preparing ourselves for the warm weather to come, the TV industry gets no such warm and pleasant break. No, whilst we’re out frollicking in the sun, they’re busy filming the programmes that we’ll be snuggling up to watch come christmas. Indeed, over the summer months it’s usually Christmas season in TV land, and as such we start getting all the juicy casting details for those festive specials. This year, it looks like one’s going to have the cast to beat, and that’s Sky 1‘s  Fungus the Bogeyman’.

During the programme, viewers are invited to meet Fungal, who goes about his business of menacing and frightening those on the surface (the “Dry Cleaners”, as they’re known in the programme), as Bogeymen do and have always done. Fungus is a family man who has lived underground his entire life, never thinking about what life could be like with the surface people, that is, until now. Over the course of the four part series, Fungus and his son Mould will move to the surface, navigating their peculiar rituals and discovering the highs and lows of their father and son relationship. Written by Tom MacRae (Threesome) and based on the classic Raymond Briggs’ family story, Fungus the Bogeyman will bring a world of delights to kids and parents alike.

The programme will star Cannes Best Actor winning Timothy Spall alongside Victoria Wood, who head up the all star cast. Also booked for the programme is  Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes, Line of Duty), and Marc Warren (The Musketeers, Hustle). Also confirmed is Andy Serkis as the Narrator (Lord of the Rings, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Joanna Scanlan (The Thick of it) as Fungus’s beloved Bogeywife Mildrew, and Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones, Dennis Pennis) as the ‘bogeyhunter’. Victoria Wood will be playing Eve, an eccentric “Dry Cleaner” living in the human inhabited village of Daventry. She’s warm, astute and kind to all strangers, but there’s more to her than meets the eye. Keeley Hawes and Marc Warren, meanwhile, will play Wendy and Daryl Snow, also “dry cleaners” who live on the surface with their human daughter Lucy. Whilst Wendy is doing her best to support the family, Daryl is without employment and is feeling a little emasculated.

The mini series will take the form of four 60 minute episodes to be broadcast over the festive period and be produced by Imaginarium Studios, in partnership with Double Negative’s TV production wing and DNeg TV, who will help with both live action and animated elements in order to bring these much loved characters to life.

On the series, due out on Sky 1, Sky 1 + 1 and Sky 1 HD this Christmas, Tim Spall said: “Fungus has brought joy to generations of children and I am so thrilled to be playing such a beloved character. It’s great to be working with Sky again and the skilled folk at Imaginarium to bring Fungus the Bogeyman out of the pages of Raymond Brigg’s book and on to the small screen this Christmas.”

Programme preview: The Moaning of Life 2

It’s fair to say that Karl Pilkington has suffered a pretty unusual life so far. Now just gone 40, he’s considering himself ‘middle aged’ and is determined to ask some of life’s biggest questions, stating: “I’ve been on the planet for 40 years now, and I’m still none the wiser as to what it’s all about really”, Karl said. “I’ve never worried about life’s big questions. People at my age sit about pondering about ‘why are we here?’ The only time I ever asked myself that is when Suzanne booked us a surprise holiday to Lanzarote.”

In that life he’s worked as a producer for XFM before ending up working on The Ricky Gervais show on that station, before being increasingly encouraged to join in on the conversations as both Gervais and Merchant realised the comic potential of the man. Later, he joined them on Gervais’ podcasts and gained a cult following for his deadpan, luddite comic sensibility. Since then, and with Gervais’ constant pushing, he’s made the move on to TV, starring in programmes like An Idiot Abroad, An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List, Derek and, of course, The Moaning of Life.

Originally broadcast on the 20th of October, 2013, The Moaning of Life took Karl across the world in search of answers to some of life’s biggest questions. Across six weeks he took on marriage in India, attempted to discover what happiness was in America, tried to understand kids in Japan, gets to grips with vocation and money in South Africa and ponders on death across Ghana, Taiwan and England. Needless to say, the programme was a hit and now we’re getting ready to see Sky One unveil a new series of the programme simply called The Moaning of Life 2.

As if being flown around the world three times by Ricky Gervais wasn’t enough, Karl is getting ready to do it again, but this time it looks like he’ll be getting to choose his own adventure. Well, he hopes so at least. Details of his adventures aren’t known yet, but with such unknowns in the universe and such a curious brain trying to understand them, we’re bound to be in for a delightful time.

Once again, the programme will be broadcast across the Sky 1 family of channels including Sky 1 HD, Sky1+1 and Sky 1 itself. International sales will be managed by Sky Vision and Sky are envisioning a strong push for the programme with an estimated 18 broadcast repeats 15” credits into/out-of programmes and 5” bumpers into/out-programmed in the break.

At present, The Moaning of Life 2 is slated for six one hour long episodes and will be broadcast later in 2015, with no set date yet announced.

How To: Set up your Sky Hub

Moving house can be a pretty stressful affair. There’s all the furniture, all the bills and all the boxes to unpack, and that’s before you can even think about things like the Internet. Indeed, it’s just another job on the road to getting comfortable and settled within your new abode, but it’s often made much more complicated than it ever need to be. It’s a common experience, but when it comes to getting your Internet set up, nothing ever seems to go quite right. In this ‘How To’ guide we’ll be showing you how to correctly set up your new Sky hub so that you don’t have to deal with the perpetual headaches that bad installation can lead to. In our previous guide we looked at how to use the Sky+ iPhone app, so join us as we once again get to the bottom of Sky related issues.

The first thing you’ll need to do is take a look at the box your hub came in. It should have a date written on the top, this is the date your Sky broadband will be activated on. You can set up your Sky Hub on the activation date written on the box but not before.

The next thing to do is to check that everything that should be inside your box is. That would include a Sky Hub, a grey DSL Cable and Microfilter, a black power cable, an extra microfilter, a black ethernet cable and a set up guide and connect card. If you’ve got all these things, you can continue.

1) Find your master phone socket. This will look something like this, alternatively it might look something like this if your home is a new build or recently had Fibre installed, this is called a pre-filtered socket.

2) Unplug everything from your master phone socket and set it aside. You should now start installation.

3) Get your microfilter and plug the white end directly into your master phone socket. You can now plug in your phone into the socket marked ‘phone’ on your Microfilter. If you have a pre-filtered socket, simply plug the gray DSL cable directly into the smaller socket.

4) Grab the other end of your grey DSL cable and plug it into the back of your new Sky Hub at the top rear of the box.

5) Now plug your black power cable into your Sky Hub and switch it on at the mains

6) Use your other microfilter as a go between for your phone line and your Sky box or between your wall socket and your secondary phone.

From there it’s just a matter connecting to your Internet connection through your phones, tablets and computers around the house.

How To: Set Up Sky Wireless Booster

It’s no secret that wireless internet has changed the way we use computers around our homes. In days gone by you’d have your tower PC set up in the corner of the room and little else in the house, owing partly due to computer parts being large, but also because you simply couldn’t get online without a cable running into the back of your machine. The miniaturization of PC parts and the birth of wireless Internet suddenly meant that we could have powerful laptops, tablets and even smartphones connected to the Internet. Truly, wifi (as it’s come to be known) has changed the way we live in our own homes. The trouble is, there’s always black spots in your home where, for whatever reason, you can’t get on the Internet.

It can be pretty frustrating, which is why Sky also sell a Sky Wireless Booster, a small device designed to take your wireless signal and amplify it so blackspots in your house get covered. In this ‘How To’ guide, we’ll look at how you setup the wireless booster, whilst in our last outing we looked at how you can turn on your TV and Sky box simultaneously, so join us as we fix your patchy wifi reception.

The Sky Wireless Booster is a small white box sold by Sky for around £20, designed so that it doesn’t take up much space in your home and blends into the environment. To set it up, follow these steps

1) Unbox your booster, inside the box you should find the wireless booster, a black power cable, a black ethernet cable and a set up guide.

2) Bring these items to your Sky wireless router and plug in your Wireless Booster to the mains, the power light should go solid white.

3) Go to your router and press and hold the WPS button for at least two seconds, the wireless light will flash amber.

4) Go back to your Wireless Booster and within two minutes press and hold the WPS button for at least two seconds, the wireless light will flash amber.

5) Your wireless booster is now connected, and you can now unplug it from the wall and place it somewhere else in your house. You’ll need to plug it in somewhere you usually get wireless connection, as it still needs to find the signal in order to boost it.

And there you have it, your Sky Wireless Booster is now set up and ready to fix those pesky black spots in your home’s wireless coverage.

How To: Switch on Your Sky+ HD Box and TV at Once

The modern living room set up is a marvel of technology. These days, it’s not uncommon to see a huge flat panel TV, a 5.1 surround sound system, a Sky+ HD box and a blu-ray player all sat in the corner of a room. It’s a bewildering set up for the uninitiated, but for those who’ve chosen their kit carefully, it can lead to some spectacular viewing experiences. It does, however, made something as simple as turning on the TV into a real task, with a mystifying amount of remote controls needed just to get into Sky and watching programmes. Multi-function remotes can be easily bought, but there is another way, and you can indeed use your Sky remote to turn on your TV.

In this guide, we’ll be showing you how to do just that. Last time out, we looked at the way to fix partially recorded programmes within Sky+, so join us as we look at how you can simplify the switching on procedure.

Note that there isn’t a standard set of rules to follow for this. The feature your TV must have, however, is support for the Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) capability. That allows HDMI devices (like your Sky+ HD box) to control each other and enables you to operate multiple devices with a single remote control. Most popular Tv manufacturers support for standard, and many newer and larger TVs have the feature too. Here’s a list of some popular TV manufacturers and what they call the feature:

Hitachi: HDMI-CEC
LG: SimpLink (find this setting in source selection screen)
Mitsubishi: NetCommand
Panasonic: Viera Link or HDAVI Control
Philips: EasyLink
Pioneer: Kuro Link
Samsung: Anynet+
Sharp: Aquos Link
Sony: Bravia Sync or Bravia Link
Toshiba: Regza Link or CE-link

With that turned on, you can follow these steps to activate one button switch on.

1) Ensure that both your Sky box and TV are in standby mode via pressing the standby buttons on both your TV and Sky remote

2) Wait for at least 30 seconds and then press ‘Sky’ on your Sky remote

3) Both your TV and Sky box should not jump into life. From now on, if you want to switch both your TV and Sky box on, simply press the ‘Sky’ button on your remote.

Keep in mind that this only works if you have one of the modern Sky+ HD boxes, older models of the Sky+ box are not supported by this feature and will not work if you try.

How To: Display Your Pictures On Your Sky Box

These days, there are a million products and services which promise to help get the pictures from the tiny screen of your phone up to the big screen in your living room. From Roku to Apple via Google and Sony, there are more of these products than there are hours in the day, but they all cost extra money and don’t help you if you want to get your pictures up on the screen right now. Thankfully, Sky have a little known feature in their Sky+ app for Android and iPhone which lets you push your pictures from your phone up to the screen, and it requires nothing more than a Sky+ box, an app and your phone.

In this guide, we’ll be discovering how you can make use of this fantastic feature. Last time, we found out how to fix remote record issues within the Sky+ app, so join us as we detail this fantastic feature.

Rather confusingly, Sky have decided to call this feature ‘Sky Snapshots’, but before you can use it, you’ve got to make sure a few things are in place first. Before anything else, you have to make sure that you’ve got the Sky+ app installed on your smart device. If you’re using an Apple device, your phone must be on iOS 5.0 or higher, and Android users must have Android 2.2 or higher.

With it installed, ensure you’re on the same wifi network as your Sky+ HD box and launch the application. Inside the app, press the spanner icon and select ‘Connect to a Sky+HD box’, you will then see your box on the list.

Once connected, a camera icon will appear in your Sky+ app’s navigation bar on the homepage. Tap the camera icon. If you’re on an Apple device, you’ll be asked if you want to give Sky+ permission to access your photo album. Once you’ve accepted that permission, your photos will be shown within the app, and all you need to do it select the album you want followed by the photo you’d like to see on the big screen and voilá, you’re looking at your pictures on the TV.

If you want to see several pictures in a slideshow, tap the ‘select’ button in the top right hand corner and select which pictures you’d like to see, and then tap ‘View on TV’.

And with that, you’ll be wowing those around you with your superb holiday pictures. Keep in mind that if you close the app, navigate to another part or shut down your phone, the photo viewing will stop.

How To: Fix Remote Record Issues with Sky

We’ve all had conversations with friends as they rattle on and on about some programme or film they’ve recently watched; “It’s fantastic, you’ve got to watch it” they’ll implore . Back in the olden days, you’d stick the name of the programme away in the back of your mind and remember to tape it once you got back, but thanks to Sky, all that has changed. With the advent of pocket computing and wireless connectivity, we can control our TV from almost anywhere with an Internet connection, so there’s never a need to miss a programme again. All of which means that when your friend recommends that must see show, you’ll have the tools at hand to ensure you catch it.

At least, that’s the theory. In practice, so-called Remote Record issues are pretty common with Sky boxes and can prove to be an immense source of frustration. It gets even more annoying if you miss the run of a programme thinking it’d been recorded, only to find out it never scheduled properly. In this ‘How To’ guide, we’ll be looking at how to fix issues with Remote Record. Last time we looked at how you can order an easy grip Sky remote for older people.

The first thing you should do is check that your Sky+ box is activated for Remote Record. Sign in to the ‘Settings’ section of My Sky using your Sky iD, then select ‘Manage Remote Record’. If you’ve already set up Remote Record, you’ll see a message which says “Remote Record is currently active”. If you haven’t set it up, do so by selecting ‘Activate Remote Record’

With ‘Remote Record’ correctly configured, we can look at other issues. If your Sky+ box is still not receiving Remote Record requests, wait for 30 minutes after sending one. Sometimes Sky boxes take a little longer to add them to your planner, so patience is recommended. You’ll also need to ensure your Sky box is constantly powered on, otherwise it won’t be able to receive your requests.

You may well be sending your Remote Record requests to the wrong Sky box if you own more than one. In order to change which Sky+ box your Remote Record requests go to, sign in to the ‘Settings’ section of My Sky using your Sky iD and then select ‘Manage Remote Record’. Then select the viewing card for the Sky+ box you’d like to record programmes with.