Sky Italia S.r.l. is an Italian digital satellite television platform owned by News Corporation launched on 1 August 2003, when the former platforms TELE+ (Canal+) and Stream TV (News Corporation and Telecom Italia) merged. It is similar in many ways to BSkyB’s Sky Digital in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and like that network it is a major sports broadcaster.
Pay TV services on Sky Italia are encrypted in NDS Videoguard. The Videoguard set-top boxes that have been provided since July 2010 are identical to the Sky+ HD boxes used in the UK. Pace, Amstrad and Thomson, all Digibox licensors, have been producing Sky Italia boxes (Sky Box, Sky HD, My Sky and My Sky HD) identical to their Sky Digital, Sky+ and Sky+ HD offerings, albeit with the potential removal of the second card slot and UHF modulator.
Since July 2010 Sky Italia has been giving the ‘Sky Digital Key’ and the My Sky HD box for free to every new customer (since July 2009 HD channels have been available with no extra cost to all Sky Italia subscribers). The ‘Sky Digital Key’ is a USB device which has to be connected to the ‘My Sky HD’ box and to the aerial cable, allowing the customer to receive every DTT SD and HD free channel on the Sky HD or My Sky HD box.
The ‘My Sky’ boxes launched on 22 November 2005 – based on a new digital receiver with HDD recording capabilities and surround sound output (not previously available on the normal box). Subsequently, the ‘My Sky HD’ boxes (High Definition with HDD recorder) were added. The ‘My Sky HD’ service had been provided with an extra charge until July 2010, when it became a base-line service. The service is functionally identical to the BSkyB Sky+ HD.
On 28 June 2010, Sky Italia changed its brands and logos, making them identical to the BSkyB ones.
Sky Italia offers eight packages of channels: five base-level ‘Channel Packs’ and three optional ‘Sky Packs’ enhancements. The ‘Channel Packs’ are: ‘Entertainment’ with 33 variety, series and semi-generalist channels (3 of them in HD); ‘Documentaries and Lifestyle’ with 17 channels (2 of them in HD); ‘Music’ with 16 channels and 27 audio channels; ‘Kids’ with 21 channels; ‘News’ with 15 national, local and international news channels and 5 basic sport channels. The ‘Sky Packs’ are the following: ‘Cinema’ with 12 movie channels (10 of them in HD), and a 3D channel, Sky Cinema 3D (PPV Sky Primafila movies are 50% off for ‘Cinema’ subscribers); ‘Sport’ with 8 channels (5 of them in HD), and a 3D channel, Sky Sport 3D; ‘Calcio’ with 15 channels (9 of them in HD) covering Italian and international football, the most popular sport in Italy, along with Sky Sport 24 (sport all-news channel), offered as bonus channel for ‘Calcio’ subscribers. The ‘Sky Primafila’ service offers pay-per-view movies, sport events and adult content (at night); the pay-per-view movies and some non-sport events are disseminated in 28 ‘Primafila’ channels (8 of them in HD); one channel airs daily Penthouse TV HD programmes, available as a stand-alone premium channel. Sky Primafila has got some similarities to BSkyB’s Sky Movies Box Office.
The HD service has been offered without any extra charge since 2009. There are 37 HDTV channels so far broadcasting on Sky, due to become 50 by the end of 2011.
On 1 October 2010, Sky activated its first 3D channel, Sky Sport 3D, available without any extra cost to the Sport pack subscribers. The very first event Sky Sport 3D aired was the 2010 Ryder Cup. On 25 December 2010, Sky launched another 3D channel: Sky Cinema 3D, airing 3D movies, available for free for Cinema pack subscribers. These channel have been replaced by Sky 3D on 6 September 2011.
On many channels, foreign-sourced content is broadcast either with an option to choose between Italian and English language soundtracks (rarely other languages), or with Italian subtitties.