Sky celebrates 20th Birthday

Phil Hinton

Staff member
It might not feel like it was 20 years ago that Sky’s TV channels became available to the British public, but Thursday the 5th of February 2009 marked the 20th birthday of Sky TV. In a world where 24hr programming is now common place, it’s incredible to look back and remember that British TV in 1989 consisted of just four terrestrial channels, most of which closed down around midnight.

That’s not to say that SKY was an instant success. Its requirement for a satellite dish and expensive box certainly put off most from initially signing up for this new TV service. However, one thing Sky has managed to do over the years is turn to innovation in its products and programming, helping them achieve widespread acceptance in today’s entertainment world. And probably the biggest draw right from the start has been a unique stance in covering live sports programming. You only have to look at the archives of how the BBC and ITV covered football to see the unique steps Sky took in changing how we watch the beautiful game. Multi camera coverage, super slow motion replays and in 1999 they introduced the first ever interactive football coverage. But it doesn’t just stop there, who would have imagined that a 24hr news channel would be needed in our country back in 1989? Not many people thought so, but Sky News has for the last 20 years been the forerunner in Europe for instant news coverage and innovation. They won the first of their 21 RTS awards way back in 1993 and have continued to offer unique ways to get up to date with the latest headlines. The organisation won 3 Bafta awards in 2002, one for it’s coverage of the harrowing 9/11 tragedy.

Readers may wonder what the big deal is about a pay TV organisation reaching its 20th birthday, and if it was just a pay TV channel we would probably agree. However, as AV fans we think it is a very important milestone and nobody can deny that SKY have pushed the TV boundaries over the last 20 years. From interactive features to Sky Plus and now High Definition and possibly 3D TV very soon. It has been down to one TV Company that these services become widespread and accepted by the public at large. With 31 HD services now running and more planned along with its continued sports and entertainment productions, Sky haven’t just taken the subscription money and run. In terms of Audio visual technology the company are undeniably pushing the boundaries for viewers to experience new and exciting products and programming, with the others left to catch up.

Whether you are a fan of SKY TV or not, we certainly feel you cannot deny the fact that they have helped develop the way TV is delivered and watched by up to 9 million households. The fact that the organisation is pushing HDTV in a way the terrestrial channels could never have managed and offering glimpses of future technology yet to come, you cannot say that SKY are not investing in a better service for viewers.

We don’t normally take much notice at TV organisations reaching a birthday like this, but AVForums certainly feels that SKY have, for better or worse, been a driving force behind TV change in the UK and helped push much of the technology us AV Fans now enjoy today.

Happy Birthday Sky from everyone at

Look back at SKY TV from the past and on to the future at their new website Sky 20 years on...
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Novice Member
I am a Sky subscriber, and don't want to dump it but, regarding the football coverage, I'm not overly happy. There are too many times when the camera cuts to somebody in the crowd or the manager or some no name celeb just when you want to see how the play is panning out. If I ever want to know all about bald patches all I have to do is wait every two or three seconds for another close up of the back of some players head who has nothing to do with the current ball movement or setup of the game. Having said that you have to laugh at ITV's gaff at missing the Everton goal (even if it was a dull game).


Well-known Member
i was 10 when sky came out i remember my parents got it from a offer in the sun paper and we were one of the first in our area to get it and it was amazing to have so many channels good luck to them there not perfect but they have changed tv in this country in so many ways for the better :thumbsup:


Distinguished Member
I agree about Sky moving HD forwards, they keep investing in better headend equipment which allows more HD (and a few more SD) channels. :thumbsup:


Bread and Circuses...Tesco for the Bread, Sky for the Circus
Ban all Satellite Dishes in Towns, Reduce Premiership money to £26 million per season, equally shared. Enforce Media ownership Rules. Never Vote for a MurDocH, Now or in the Future, Lest we end up like Italy.


Distinguished Member
There is no doubt about it, love the or loathe them, they have innovated TV and look set to continue to do so.




Distinguished Member
Are they going to celebrate their birthday with some more price rises though... (they already announced that their broadband was going up, but "generously" gave existing customers a "discount" back down to the old price for a year...)


Novice Member
I'm not too fussed about HD or the amount of channels sky have to offer, but what continues to impress me is Sky+! Simple, effective and really has changed the way we all watch TV! fair play Mr Murdoch (perhaps time to give some of the profit back though?... i'm skint!)



Active Member
I got satellite TV in 1990. I'm trying to remember the channel line up. Something like:

Sky Channel
Sky News
Sky Movies
One other?

There were also some German channels RTL1, RTL2, Sat1, RTL Nachtrichten(?) and more.
Happy birthday Sky. I don't really care for actual television as it stands for various reasons (or for the prices you have to pay to access it), but I have a lot of respect for them for giving the snooty British TV world a well-needed slap.

One thing though - why not bring back the cool glitzy idents you had in the 90s, when satellite TV felt special instead of just another delivery method? The minimalist stuff you had last time I watched just wasn't the same.
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Ian J

what continues to impress me is Sky+! Simple, effective and really has changed the way we all watch TV!
You must be joking. Sky + isn't a patch on Tivo which was far more flexible in every way. The only reason that my Tivo was replaced by Sky + is that the hardware was never updated for the digital age in the UK. I doubt whether you will find anyone who has used Tivo who will agree that Sky + is better


Novice Member
You must be joking. Sky + isn't a patch on Tivo which was far more flexible in every way. The only reason that my Tivo was replaced by Sky + is that the hardware was never updated for the digital age in the UK. I doubt whether you will find anyone who has used Tivo who will agree that Sky + is better
I agree my friends but it was a shame that Tivo didn't have the support it deserved, I kinda meant Sky changed the way that the UK watched TV I totally agree there was and is many PVR's that are better but this to me is the complete 'package'! :)

Stuart Wright

AVForums Founder
Staff member
Sky could still really innovate by removing the DOGS from the Sky channels.
They're one of the main reasons I don't subscribe. Dogg'd video is degraded video.


Novice Member
I remember the furore when they experimented with the D O G S on the film channels,i think it lasted a few days before they wisely retreated.:D


Well-known Member

Whilst I don't "love" Sky the company, I do like the variety of channels Sky offers me, and the choice it gives me the viewer, compared to the five main terrestrial channels.

Yes, Sky has problems, (Channel DOGS; interactive icons like the Red Button, Remind Me Now, etc,; lots of terrrible channels that are of interest to no one, and some of the dumbest channel continuity announcers this side of the Space-Time Continuum), but for the most part it gives me the chance to see material that has been constantly denied to me by terrestrial.

With Ofcom wanting Channel 4 to merge with either Five or BBC Worldwide, it seems terrestrial TV is only going to get worse rather than better. :( Channel 4 should be forced to go it alone, not merge with other companies. I know what would happen if it did merge with Five: it would bring Five down to the lowest common denominator that Channel 4 has become over the past ten years or so, and Five is about the only decent terrestrial channel left.

So, congratulations to Sky for making TV choice better for the viewer. You've made mistakes, but let's hope that your next 20 years concentrate more on what the viewers want from you, rather than what you want from the viewers! :lesson:



Well-known Member
No lover of Murdoch, R I have to say that he put his money where his mouth was when no one gave him a hope in hell of making a go of Sky

If you look at the squarial and the ITV dogsview jobbie with ondigital boxes, you have to say he has stuck with it and, today, his Sky service is to be admired

Sky News, more often than not, gets the news on air before the Beeb. I watched as Jeremy Thompson walked up a deserted street in Kosovo risking his life

You want to watch sport live, UNINTERRUPTED, there really is no alternative. The BBC is almost always either not live or edited highlights or late at night when you know the result. Or wall to wall Darts or Carpet bowls

And today, I am watching the test match from the Windies in Hi-Def. You may think this bandwidth from 4000 miles comes cheap. Think again

Thanks Rupert. It's good value

(Just don't put the price up, we're credit crunching here!:hiya:)


Novice Member
I think sky have too much of a monopoly and should be broken up and/or forced to sell parts of the business to others.

Regarding the issue of choice, I don't believe that sky increases the quality of television at all.

The license fee represents greater value for money.

With sky you have a subscription and adverts.

It should be one or the other IMO.


I only have sky for the beautifull game and boy does it look beautifull in hd there have been times where my sky bill was extortionate almost
£100 a month last year.
I dont care about thier business nor rupert all i care about is i get to watch some footy i said in another thread i would rather pay my sky bill than my mortgage:p

Ian J

With sky you have a subscription and adverts.
They may have adverts on Sky but who watches them. I record everything and watch it later - sometimes just 15 minutes later so that I can fast forward over the ads.

Other times I wash up in the ad breaks :(

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