Sky is expected to announce plans for a broadband television service that will allow subscribers to download a selection of movies and sports packages over the internet.
UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB is planning to offer the service to subscribers of its top-tier packages from the autumn.
Industry observers have been expecting a move from Sky to exploit the growing potential of broadband to support its satellite subscription service.
Sky has confirmed to informitv that two new services will launch later this year. Both will require a broadband connection and a personal computer, together with a subscription to the relevant channel package.
Sky Movies World customers will be able to download movies, with around 200 available at launch, including a mix of new films and library titles that are under licence to Sky Movies. There will also be interviews and trailers for forthcoming cinema releases.
Sky Sports World subscribers will have access to match highlights, interviews, news bulletins, programme clips and archive footage from Sky Sports.
Subscribers to the top tier package, Sky World, will be able to use both services.
This initiative is part of the customer acquisition and retention drive with a target of reaching 10 million subscribers in 2010.
It opens the possibility of Sky offering a proposition that is more integrated with its Sky+ personal video recorder at some point in the future.
While satellite broadcasting offers significant bandwidth to deliver hundreds of television channels, it is unable to offer true video-on-demand services that can be provided with cable television.
Satellite broadcasters are widely expected to extend their services using broadband to provide downloadable and on-demand programming. This will offer them the ability to compete with cable companies as they roll out video-on-demand services.
Sky already resells sports and movie channels through HomeChoice, a broadband television service that currently operates in the London area. The package is promoted as “Sky by wire”.
IPTV, or internet protocol television, is becoming a very hot topic, as broadband data networks begin to allow television programmes to be delivered over telephone lines.
BT is planning to provide a hybrid video-on-demand service in conjunction with digital terrestrial television, but the launch date seems to have slipped into next year.
The BBC will trial iMP, its own peer-to-peer download service, for three months from September.
Sky looks like it is preparing to dip its toe in the water, but its possible entry into the broadband market will be watched with great interest.