Sky Cinema will launch a 4K channel in Italy

On January 28, Sky Italia will introduce Sky Cinema 4K, which will serve as a dedicated home in the TV Guide for the service’s 4K movie programming. It will be available only to consumers who have a 4K-ready Sky Q set-top box and who pay a fee for access to ultra-high-definition movies.

On the new channel, 120 films will be accessible to view throughout the day, including Ghostbusters, The Amazing Spider-Man, and F9 (Fast and Furious 9).

In the UK, Sky Q clients access 4K movies via on-demand content pages in the Sky Q interface, which they then download over a broadband connection.

Sky Cinema 4K in Italy, according to TechRadar, would instead transmit its programmes through a satellite link (along with on-demand downloads) in the same manner Sky’s existing 4K sports output does — we’ve asked Sky for clarity on this issue.

Can Sky Cinema 4K be available in the United Kingdom, and do we need it?

Sky Italia seems to have decided to deliver 4K material through satellite in order to circumvent the limits imposed by slower internet rates across the nation. According to the prominent speedtest.net service measurement site, Italy’s median broadband speeds in November 2021 were 34.53Mbps, ranking it 49th in the site’s worldwide rankings.

In contrast, the United Kingdom ranks 32nd with a median average speed of 47Mbps. Both are adequate for 4K streaming, but it’s worth noting that Sky Q doesn’t offer streaming, instead serving 4K films as downloads – and those with speeds significantly lower than the average may have to wait a long time for their films to download, making a satellite broadcast an instant 4K fix by comparison. (On Sky Q, Netflix, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video all provide 4K streaming, but only via their own applications.)

It’s worth noting that Sky’s recent debut of Sky Glass, a television set with built-in Sky streaming programming, is a fundamentally dishonest technique to delivering its networks. Instead, it uses the viewer’s internet connection to send standard, high-, and ultra-high-definition material to the user’s TV, and it’s an indication of Sky’s longer-term aspirations in this area.

In general, Internet speeds in the UK are high enough that a dedicated 4K satellite channel isn’t necessary for many people, and an over-the-internet alternative may even be more reliable. However, for people who live in areas where internet is poor, a satellite option for 4K movies would be helpful. Similarly, having a satellite backup for those times when internet connectivity fails might assist to improve the service’s dependability. Although it is not required, it would be wonderful to include the channel as an option for UK viewers.

We’ve reached out to Sky Italia for comment on how and why it’s taking this approach with its 4K cinema material, and we’ll update this piece if we hear back.