Sky Picnic pay TV service scrapped

The proposed upcoming digital terrestrial pay TV service from Sky – called Picnic – has been scrapped. Media Guardian reports “Sky first started developing plans for the service, called Picnic, 18 months ago but has been unable to launch because Ofcom has not completed its regulatory investigation” and “Sky is understood to have considered launching an internet version of Picnic, an IPTV service. However, all options have now been shelved”.

This now means that – for the time being at least – the existing Sky channels will remain free on digital terrestrial (Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News). If Picnic would have launched, those three channels would have been replaced with pay TV channels for a subscription fee. The subscription channels would have likely been Sky 1, Sky Sports 1, Sky Movies, Disney Channel and Discovery Channel. The subscription channels wouldn’t have been available 24 hours a day, as some would have timeshared together. Any plans for Picnic telephone and broadband services have also been scrapped.

‘Picnic’ service not launching anytime soon

The proposed pay TV service from Sky called ‘Picnic’ doesn’t look likely to launch on DTT anytime soon as the Ofcom consultation continues, and delays any plans. If ‘Picnic’ were to launch, it would replace their existing free channels on Digital Terrestrial and they would likely be replaced by Sky One, Sky Movies and Sky Sports. The Guardian say the ongoing Ofcom consultation “would appear to make it unlikely that Sky could launch its DTT pay-TV service – if it were given permission to do so – before the summer of 2009”.

Disney Channel coming to ‘Picnic’ if approved

If Sky’s proposed DTT pay TV service gets the go-ahead, Sky have announced a new channel that will be on the lineup – the Disney Channel. This adds to the existing proposed lineup of one Sky Movies channel, one Sky Sports channel, Sky One and Sky News (none of these are 100% confirmed). The Disney Channel on the proposed DTT pay TV offering ‘Picnic’ will be a new channel consisting of the best of the other Disney channels that appear on the Sky and Virgin Media channel lineups. It’s thought this channel would air from 6am-6pm (the same hours as ABC1 used to occupy on the DTT platform before it closed down). Ofcom are still undecided on whether to approve the ‘Picnic’ service or not. Watch this space.

‘Picnic’ – Sky’s proposed premium service

Details of Sky’s proposed new premium/pay service on Digital Terrestrial emerged this week. The service would be branded ‘Picnic’ if it were to launch, following an OFCOM consultation. Sky have said the service will consist of three video streams – which would be home to various Sky pay TV channels – timesharing with each other. These channels would be Sky Sports 1, Sky One, Sky Movies SD1 and a couple of other channels to be confirmed. They would initially launch those channels and – if given approval to move to MPEG-4 (instead of the standard MPEG-2) they could then add Sky News to the package. It is thought Sky will make the TV package available as part of a TV, phone and broadband package. The newly-launched Sky Picnic website (here) lets you sign up for email alerts for when new information becomes available, and also reveals the Picnic logo for the first time. There will be official Sky Picnic set top boxes for the service (the service will probably only run if you are using one of those – but this is not 100% confirmed) which will be primarily be made by Sagem and will be capable of running MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 streams. OFCOM are currently running a public consultation into whether the service would be viable for the platform, and please contact them to let your thoughts known to them. The public consulation will last until the 14th December, and they can choose to deny it completely, request things are changed on the package before it can launch, or approve it as it is.