Sky Q HDR: How to Upgrade, What to Watch, & Everything Else You Need to Know
List of compatible boxes | What TV shows & channels are available (Netflix, Sports?) | How to get Sky Q HDR | and more…
3rd Jun 2020
By Rohan Tandon
Rohan is a passionate tech journalist with a degree in English literature. He's worked as a commissi
Sky has finally released HDR content for its Sky Q box. This means you can now watch various 4K HDR content from your Sky Q box, provided you have the right Sky Q box and a compatible TV.
The current set of contents isn’t vast — Sky has, so far, only released some nature programming on HDR — and you have to meet a lot of requirements to enjoy HDR content on Sky Q. But it’s worth checking out.
Please continue reading for more information on everything you need to know about watching HDR on Sky Q.
Sky Q get an HDR release date?
It's already available.
Sky had originally promised that HDR support for Sky Q boxes would be available by the end of 2019. That timeline eventually shifted to 2020, and HDR support for Sky Q boxes was officially launched on the 27th of May 2020.
While Sky Q has already received HDR support, as mentioned previously, the HDR-rollout comes with a caveat. You can only access HDR content on specific Sky Q boxes and using compatible TVs.
What is HDR?
HDR is short for "high-dynamic range", and it's currently one of the most advanced video quality standards. TVs with HDR provide superior visual quality, with sharper contrasts, brighter highlights, deeper shadows, and a wider gamut of color displays.
People often confuse HDR with HD. However, the two are completely different categories.
HD (high-definition) focuses on video resolution, such as 720p resolution, 1080p resolution, and 4K resolution. It allows you to capture greater details on your screen.
HDR (high-dynamic range), however, focuses on contrast ratio and color accuracy. The contrast ratio determines the brightness and shadow components of the visuals. Colour accuracy engulfs the color spectrum and determines how natural the videos seem. Together, the two components ensure that the video looks lifelike.
Most HDR content today is only compatible with HD or UltraHD TVs, i.e. TVs that support 1080p or 4K resolutions.
What is Sky Q HDR?
Most 4K or UltraHD TVs support HDR content to some extent. However, most TVs only provide HDR10 by default, which can boost the depth and richness of your video without drastically altering your TV’s picture quality by modifying the metadata.
Sky Q, however, won’t use HDR10 for its content. Sky Q will use the HLG (hybrid log gamma) HDR format, which has been developed by the UK’s BBC and Japan’s NHK.
Traditional HDR formats only work on TVs that support HDR content. That’s why most television broadcasters have to release content in pairs — SDR content for televisions that don’t support HDR and HDR content for televisions that support HDR.
HLG-HDR, in comparison, will code HDR and SDR into the same signals. As such, you can watch the HDR content regardless of whether you have an SDR-compatible TV or an HDR-compatible TV. The difference, however, is that SDR TVs will access the same content in its SDR format rather than the heightened HDR format.
What does Sky Q HDR look like?
Does my Sky Q box support HDR?
Sky took so long to release HDR support because they had compatibility issues with some of their Sky Q boxes.
As such, when Sky eventually rolled out HDR capabilities, they also released a statement: “Our newer Sky Q 1TB UHD and 2TB boxes support HDR. Some of our older Sky Q boxes do not support HDR.”
To determine if your Sky Q box is compatible with HDR, you’ll need to check its model number. You can check your Sky Q’s model number by going to:
Settings > System Info > Hardware version
Compatible Sky Q models:
32B1xx: Sky Q 2TB
32B203 or 32B204: Sky Q 1TB
32B205 or 32B206: Sky Q 1TB/2TB
Incompatible Sky Q models:
32B0xx: Sky Q 2TB
32C0xx: Sky Q 1TB
32C1xx: Sky Q 1TB
Sky Q Mini
Can I transfer my old recordings to a new Sky Q box?
If your Sky Q box doesn’t support HDR content, you may consider upgrading to a compatible Sky Q box. And you may wonder if you can transfer all your old recordings to the new Sky Q box.
Unfortunately, you can’t transfer or migrate recordings from one Sky Q device to another. Sky users have been frustrated about this oversight since well before the HDR feature came around. Sky has not introduced any means of migrating content from legacy devices.
This means that, if you migrate from an old Sky Q box to a new one, you’ll lose all your recordings.
Is my TV compatible with Sky Q HDR?
You can only watch Sky Q HDR on HLG-HDR supported TVs.
According to BBC, HLG support is available in some of the latest TV models from companies like Finlux, LG, Panasonic, Philips, Hisense, Hitachi, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, Vizio, and others.
You’ll have to check your specific television’s compatibility to determine if it has HLG-HDR support.
How to watch Sky Q in 4K HDR?
The first step in watching HDR content in your Sky Q box is a software update.
You should receive an automatic software update, so you shouldn’t have to do much. If you don’t receive an automatic update, you can update it manually. Go to:
Settings > System Info > Update > Software Version.
The software update may take some time. After the software update, you’ll notice the Sky Nature channel in your EPG. You can now search for and watch any of the available HDR programs on Sky Q.
What TV shows/channels can I watch on Sky Q HDR?
As of now, Sky Q has a limited crop of shows available in Sky Q HDR. The following is a brief overview of your options:
Gangs of Lemur Island: A wildlife shows that follows four warring gangs of Madagascan ring-tailed lemurs (5 x 60-minute episodes).
Pridelands: Wilderness Reborn: An Australian family’s adventures during an attempt to restore a hunting ranch in South Africa (1 x 60-minute episode).
Malawi: Wildlife Rescue: A documentary show that follows veterinarian Amanda Salb and her team from Malawi's only animal rescue center as they save injured and orphaned animals (5 x 60-minute episodes).
When will HDR sports and movies be available on Sky Q?
Sky will add sports and movie channels to Sky Q HDR soon.
They will launch a series of Sky Nature documentaries later in 2020. Following that, Sky Nature documentaries will release some blockbuster movies in 4K HDR in time for Christmas.
Sky also intends to enable HDR (HLG) for BBC iPlayer playback in time to cover the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The 2021 Olympics were originally slotted for 2020, but they’ve been postponed until July 23rd 2021, due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
As such, we can expect live sports on Sky Q HDR by July 2021.
Kevin Mayer, Disney’s Chairman of Direct-To-Consumer & International, Kevin Mayer, said, “We are delighted that Sky is selling the Disney+ service on their platform and, along with our other distribution partners, will deliver exceptional reach at launch.”
You can access Disney+ content in your Sky Q box. All you have to do is go to Home > Apps > Disney+. This applies to all regular Disney+ programming.
There is no word yet on when you'll get HDR playback on Disney+.
So far, HDR playback on Sky Q is… disappointing, to say the least.
To access HDR content on Sky Q, you need to have one of the latest HDR-compatible Sky Q boxes and an HLG-HDR-compatible TV. And even if you meet those requirements, you can only watch a few episodes of some wildlife-related shows, with a tenuous promise of future rollouts for movies and sports.
In short, if you don't meet the HDR content requirements, you're not missing out on much. If you meet all the requirements, enjoy the adventures of some wild lemurs!