Only a few weeks after I blogged about the content restrictions Sky Player imposes in an online environment (relative to the satellite one), Sky has now emailed every Sky Player user a new set of terms and conditions.
The most significant change relates to targeted advertising. The Sky email states: “In future, the advertising you see on Sky Player may be better tailored to your interests. The new system, which is called Sky AdSmart, uses customer information to replace some general adverts with ones which we believe to be more relevant to viewers’ potential preferences and interests.”
(Sky AdSmart can be thought of as an Internet-based precursor to targeted ad-substitution on Sky’s satellite PVR platform, due to begin in the first half of 2011.)
Accordingly, the new Ts & Cs s state that Sky will use ‘cookies’ for the purpose of “serving behavioural and tailored advertising on Sky online services and websites and selected third party websites, [...] which means you may receive advertisements which are more relevant to you.”
There is an opt-out, of course: users can go to their personal profile and tick a box to say they do not wish to receive this kind of targeted advertising – but the default position is that unless they do so, they will get it: this is not an opt-in system. Ticking the box effectively disables the ‘session cookie’ as well as what Sky calls the ‘Audience Science cookie’.
However, for those who wish to disable all of their cookies (Sky lists six different types including the two above), this will completely disable the Sky Player service. The new Ts &Cs state that “The Service cannot operate if you set your browser to reject all cookies.”
It is not immediately obvious why this should be so, because Sky Player doesn’t rely on these cookies to identify the subscriber or the device as legitimate: in the Ts & Cs, Sky says that users must consent to information being collected about them through the service, which includes the Microsoft Windows Product Key of the registered device, its IP address, and “information derived from the hardware configuration of [the device].” This is of course in addition to the requirement to login and enter a password to use Sky Player. Other authentication information is also presumably being passed back and forth by the Windows DRM system Sky Player uses.
I have to say I find both the ‘opt-out’ and ‘cookie acceptance’ policies surprisingly heavy-handed. But perhaps that is the intention – to test consumer reaction to such policies in the online environment before they finally determine how to soften them for the satellite domain.
The new Ts & Cs also tighten another screw, incidentally: it was definitely my impression that previously, you were allowed to watch Sky Player content on different registered devices at the same time – as long as it wasn’t the same content. The updated version now says you can’t watch any content on two registered devices at the same time. If you boot up a second registered device, you’ll simply stop receiving the content you were watching on the first one.
I can think of good practical reasons for doing that: quality is likely to be reduced on both streams unless the household has at least 4-5Megs available downstream. But isn’t that a matter for the user?