Sky Go Extra: It finally worked

I’ve been pretty vocal recently about how shit the Sky Go Extra service is. I am astonished that the team there even let it out the building alive. There must have been some real pressure to deliver and I seriously doubt whether any of the senior executives have bothered taking a look at it.

Or perhaps they did so in laboratory conditions with 16 techies standing next to them ensuring everything worked perfectly.

Sky Go is the British satellite broadcaster’s mobile streaming service. This has been available for ages and is, I think it’s fair to say, acknowledged as a good success. The service relies totally on streaming so it can be rather difficult to watch anything if you’re on a fast moving train or in a poor signal area. But if you’ve got decent WiFi, it’s excellent. If I’m not mistaken, Sky Go is free of charge to existing Sky subscribers.

Sky Go Extra is the download extension that costs an extra £5 per month. You get streaming, but you also get the ability to download various episodes (and movies) to watch offline. Only it’s pants. Utter pants. It doesn’t actually work. Or, to be accurate, it’s never ever worked for me despite me trying on all sorts of devices.

However last night I got value from my Sky Go Extra subscription. I was able to watch the first episode of Game of Thrones on my iPad at home on WiFi.

So actually, I was only using Sky Go.

But. I persevered.

Whilst I was watching Game of Thrones (worth a look, by the way) I opted to download two episodes of Revolution, the new JJ Abrams. I had to leave the iPad plugged in and “on” for hours. Sky clearly don’t pay for any of that super-swish CloudFront style CDN jazz meaning your episode downloads crawl along like a Tortoise with bronchitis.

Eventually both episodes downloaded.

Therefore, dear reader, you and I shall do something live. Relatively live. I haven’t looked yet to see if they’ll work.

I’m on the train. I’ve got a full EE 3G signal. Shall we see if it works?

(By the way, there’s no sensible reason why I should *need* a full signal as these episodes have downloaded — but then again, this is Sky we’re talking about. They clearly didn’t think this stuff through at all.)

Ok here goes.

I’m swapping to the other app now.

Well blow me down with a feather, cover me in butter and call me Shirley!

It’s working.

Initially when I activated the app, the two “watch” button next to the two episodes was greyed out. I had to wait a few seconds before the app swapped them to bright colours. That is either the app doing something pointless or it’s the system having to make a request to Sky’s servers before playing the episode. If that’s the case — if that’s genuinely the case — someone at Sky needs a seriously good slap with a very large fish. Especially since they’ve let their marketing team go out and tell everyone you can watch episodes offline.

The first episode did play.

Finally.

So if you’ve been having a shit time with Sky Go Extra like me, you’re doing it wrong. Make sure you’ve got the patience of a Demi God. Download the episodes OVER FLIPPING NIGHT and don’t you dare do anything else on your iDevice whilst this is happening. Then MAKE SURE you’re in a FLIPPING good signal area before trying to watch the episode.

Gahhh.

Is this enough to prevent me from dumping the £5/month subscription for Extra? Possibly. For the time being, yes.

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3 Responses to Sky Go Extra: It finally worked

  1. Andy Hooper April 3, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Hi Ewan, out of interest have you confirmed that you actually *cannot* watch a successfully downloaded episode if you are not in a mobile coverage area? ie. the buttons remain greyed out?

  2. Ewan April 3, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    It seems to get really confused when you’ve no coverage. It works much better when you’re in airplane mode.

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