Sky is planning a new service based on Google Video that enables users to upload and share their own video clips, as well as viewing extracts from Sky programming. Selected clips will be showcased on Sky interactive television and some may be featured on Sky Channels. The SkyCast web site can currently be seen in testing and is due to launch later in the year.
The service is free to use and it is not necessary to be a Sky subscriber. Video clips of up to 10 minutes can be uploaded online at up to 5Mbps. Mobile phone video can also be uploaded directly at a cost of 25 pence a clip in addition to any network operator charges.
Users must have the rights to anything that they submit and they grant Sky the right to use material as they see fit, including offering advertising around it.
Currently in beta testing, the SkyCast site has a limited number of clips available, with limited appeal. No user contributed content will be published during the trial phase.
As with other video sharing sites, videos can be embedded in other web pages. Selected videos will also be available for download to a mobile phone for a pound, plus any network charges.
The SkyCast platform is powered by and links to Google Video. Sky announced a deal with Google in December 2006 and the video syndication site is one element of their collaboration. Sky also plans to offer a branded version of Google Mail, giving users a sky.com email address. The two companies will also explore future forms of online, television and mobile advertising and share the resulting revenues.
Google Video has so far failed to achieve the same level of interest as YouTube, now owned by Google. Although Google has said that it will maintain Google Video, it now returns YouTube clips among its search results.
The question will be whether Sky can attract its own social network and build a community in the shadow of other sites such as YouTube. However, it offers the potential for Sky to solicit video contributions to channels such as Sky News, which already involves viewers through voting and invites feedback by email. Sky will also be able to integrate material into their other broadband and mobile services.