European satcaster Sky has never been focused on a single technology and is all about “perpetually renewing itself for the future”, according to CEO Jeremy Darroch.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNBC, Darroch said that Sky was a business that was “established on disruption” and that by not restricting itself to one technology – namely linear satellite delivery – will allow it to move quickly as viewer behaviours change.
The launch of Sky’s pay-monthly over-the-top Now TV has allowed it to target a “very different segment of the population” than it could have done with Sky, said Darroch.
However, he added that there was still a need for “greater investment in broadband and mobile networks” in order to guarantee high quality streaming – particularly for large-audience events like sports fixtures.
“Everything we see is that the demand to consume content over streaming services over mobile devices is only going to grow. So we really need to see that infrastructure being put in place to make sure we can stayahead of the curve,” he said, referring to fibre-to-the home and, in the future, 5G mobile connectivity.
Sky has plans to go into the mobile market in the UK and Darroch said that that will be “a big business for us.”
“If I take the UK we have something like two and a half billion views over the top already this year. [It is] less so in Italy and Germany, but growing rapidly as well.”
Darroch said that Sky is already seeing, and will continue to see, is the business move from a “reasonably narrow satellite model today [to] a really, truly, multi-platform, multi-distribution business.”
“That journey which we’re a reasonable way through has still got a long way to run,” he said, but claimed that the company is “pretty much there” in terms of having the “basic building blocks in place”.
“We’ve always had this this appetite to change, have a go and get into new trends because we felt that by stepping into those trends that we’ll be able to shape them in a better way rather than resist them,” said Darroch, predicting that the shift from mainstream TV may still be 25 to 30years away.
Discussing content, the Sky boss said that the company’s job was to broadcast the broadest and best range and quality of content from around the world. “That’s through working with our partners, but increasingly commissioning creating more of our own content ourselves,” he added.
He also hinted that Sky may rely less on big-sports rights in the future, claiming that Sky is becoming “much broader today” and that paying billions of pounds for football rights is based on the “fundamental growth opportunity that exists in the business today”.