Claire Nottage | February 28th, 2022
Sky was one of the first providers to offer such a service, and it remains one of the best on the market, although Virgin Media and BT offer comparable alternatives. Originally, a multiscreen service involved requesting a single, second TV box from your TV provider and paying a monthly fee for the pleasure.
Sky revolutionised this in recent years, by introducing the concept of the mini box – a smaller TV box that communicates with the main box and on which you can watch both live TV and on-demand content, including box sets and films. In this guide, we take a look at how Sky Multiscreen works, how many Sky Q Mini boxes you can have, and help you decide whether they might be a good idea for your home.
|£19 per month
|Sky Q box resolution
|Mini box resolution
|1 x Sky Q box, 4 x Sky Q Mini box
|Additional box cost
|£50 each (one-off cost)
Sky Q Multiscreen is a paid-for add-on available with a Sky Q TV subscription that enables you to watch your Sky TV content in more than one room of your home. It costs extra on top of your Sky TV package and comes with one Sky Q Mini box as standard so you can watch TV in a second room of your choice.
Sky Q comes with a main set-top TV box, known as a Sky Q 1TB UHD box (as it comes with one terabyte (TB) of storage and enables UHD viewing where available) and additional Sky Q Mini boxes for multiroom viewing.
The Sky Q Mini box works by connecting with your main Sky Q TV box either over wifi or by using powerline networking to provide you with whatever content you select. As with your main box, you can pause and rewind live TV, and watch on demand content. You can also pause viewing in one room and then pick up watching again in another room.
A bonus of the Sky Q Mini boxes is that they can also act as wifi extenders, creating a better wifi signal in whichever room they are placed. However, be aware that this is only possible if you have Sky Broadband as well as a Sky Q router.
The Sky Q Mini box does have a few downsides. You cannot record on it, so if there is a series or movie you want to keep, you will have to set it to record on your main box. The Sky Q Mini box also only shows programming in 720p – not Full HD (1080p) or UHD.
When you sign up for Sky Q Multiscreen, you will receive one Sky Q Mini box as standard and you can then choose to add three other Sky Q Mini boxes as well, giving a maximum of four. Just bear in mind that you can only watch TV on any three Sky Q boxes at once. This does not have to include your main Sky Q box, although it does have to be connected to the power as this is how the Mini boxes provide you with your content.
You may also want to factor in cost when it comes to additional Sky Q Mini boxes, since although one Mini box is provided free of charge as part of the additional Minis cost extra and incur additional up-front costs.
All Multiscreen customers will automatically get Sky Go Extra free with their subscription at no extra cost. This enhances the Multiscreen option by enabling you watch your Sky content on an array of devices in addition to your televisions. You can log in to your Sky account and watch TV using Sky Go Extra on two devices at once (including smartphones, tablets, laptops, games consoles and streaming devices), in addition to the maximum three Sky Q TV boxes.
Sky isn’t the only provider to offer a multiscreen service. Virgin Media, BT and NOW TV all offer something comparable, with Virgin also offering its TV 360 Mini boxes to compete against the Sky Q Mini.
The immediate and obvious alternative to Sky Q is another Sky service – Sky Stream. Whereas Sky Q looks to the skies and pulls its signal from a distant satellite, Sky Stream brings your TV from closer to home. As the name suggests, it 'streams' TV via your broadband connection and ,as of summer 2023, is becoming Sky's preferred solution to offer new customers. The main advatage is that you don't need an unsightly dish on your home, the main disadvantage is that, of course, you do need a fast and reliable broabdand connection. But in these days of full speed fibre-to-the-property connections, it makes sense that they've followed other provides and moved in that direction.
The other most obvious alternative to a full-on Sky TV subscription is of course Sky’s little sibling, NOW TV. If you have a smart TV, or a third-party streaming product such as a Roku, you can simply download the NOW TV app and sign up to get access to the best of Sky TV. Choose from the Entertainment Membership, the Cinema Membership, the Sports Membership or the Kids Membership (or all four) to watch the TV you want.
The beauty of NOW TV is that all its subscriptions come on a rolling monthly basis so you can cancel whenever you want; there is no requirement for a long contract. Plus, with all the content being offered on demand, there is no need to record anything either.
When it comes to watching on multiple screens at the same time, you can use your NOW TV login to watch on a maximum of three screens or devices at once if you sign up for the NOW TV Boost. Otherwise, you can only watch on two screens at once.
With a NOW TV Entertainment membership at the core of its TV package, BT is now a good alternative to Sky. However, with only one Extra Box on offer, customers are limited to watching their subscription on just one other TV. As an alternative, BT TV customers can use the BT TV app to watch on a maximum of two devices at once.
Virgin Media also offers a multiscreen service with Virgin Media Multiroom via its 360 TV box and accompanying mini boxes. Virgin will provide a maximum of two 360 Mini boxes, and customers can then watch content on all three TV boxes at once. Customers also have the option to watch their subscription using the Virgin TV Go app which can be used on two devices at the same time.
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At the time of writing, Sky Q Multiscreen costs £15 per month on top of your chosen Sky TV package.
No, you cannot watch content in UHD on a Sky Q Mini box. This is only available through your main Sky Q 1TB UHD box.
You can do this by logging into your Sky Account and placing an order for another Sky Q Mini box. Note that there is a maximum of four Mini boxes allowed per household.
Yes, you can move your Sky Q Mini box to a different room as long as it is still in range of your main TV box and router.