Sky confirms August 13 launch date for 4K sports, movies and drama

Ultra HD service will kick off with Hull v Leicester City, Spectre premiere on the way

Sky has finally announced details of the first wave of 4K programming that will be supported by its new Sky Q Silver hardware, with an August 13 launch date – the same day as the start of the new Premier League football season.

No surprise, then, that Ultra HD content will include sports, plus films, drama/music entertainment and even some David Attenborough natural history footage. Material will be spread across the satcaster's platform, as opposed to a dedicated 4K channel.

Promised movies during the first year include world premieres of Spectre, The Revenant and The Martian, plus back-catalogue material such as Minority Report, The Godfather, The Da Vinci Code and Spider-Man trilogy. There will be themed 4K movie collections (Blockbusters, Oscar Winners, etc) and the option of renting new release flicks from the Sky Store. Sky had previously announced a UHD movie deal with Sony Pictures.

Additionally, Sky will offer around 30 hours of natural history and documentaries – including 'scenes' from Attenborough’s 2015 series Conquest of the Skies, new show Monkeys: An Amazing Animal Family, and National Geographic programmes including new Story of God with Morgan Freeman. There's also a quintet of new dramas promised, led by the Jude Law vehicle The Young Pope, a joint production with HBO and Canal+. 

And sports-wise, Sky will hope to challenge BT's Ultra HD Sports channel with 124 live Premier League matches, beginning with Hull vs Leicester City on August 13. Formula 1 motor racing will be on the UHD starting grid for the 2017 season.

There's no word yet on other 4K sports programming, such as golf and rugby. However, Sky says there will be 'more sports, movies, documentaries and drama' arriving later.

Existing Sky Q owners are told they can adjust their hardware settings now (by selecting 2,160p output in the audio-visual menu) to make sure everything is set for the 4K launch. Alternatively, you will be prompted to make this change when attempting to view UHD content.

HDR not on the card yet

Sky's Ultra HD offering will not be delivered in HDR – the company has said it is reserving that technology for a second 4K phase. Finding programming will be done in a variety of ways. With live sports content – sent by satellite – an onscreen prompt will notify users that an Ultra HD broadcast is also available. Viewers can change between watching the HD and Ultra HD broadcast using the Mini Guide. There will also be a dedicated Ultra HD tab in Sky's On Demand, Sky Store, and Box Sets sections for net-delivered material. 

'With Sky Q, we created the world’s best TV experience,' claims Luke Bradley-Jones, Director of TV & Content Products. 'Now with the introduction of an unrivalled lineup of Ultra HD TV, the service is going to get even better... Whether you’re a football fan, movie buff, natural history enthusiast or drama junkie, customers looking for the next-generation of TV viewing will love it.'