Now you’ll be able to get Sky Sports on Freeview without a set-top box
A few months ago, I wrote about how to get Sky Sports on Freeview (strictly ‘digital terrestrial television’, before someone nitpicks) and explained that the only equipment that was permitted to be used was that with ‘embedded encryption.’
That means that only a box that had a card slot, with up to date software, would be able to be used to receive Sky Sports. If you were using a CAM – a small module that fits into a larger slot on some digital TV recorders, and TVs, and into which the subscription card fits, you wouldn’t be able to carry on getting Sky Sports.
Although these modules have been quite popular elsewhere, especially in the satellite world, they’ve not been widely used in the UK. Most digital TVs have a slot – called a CI slot – into which they can be fitted, and the Setanta sports (now ESPN) service provided by TopUpTV was available with a CAM.
The practical upshot of that was that you could put a CAM in your TV, a subscription card in the CAM, and watch ESPN without a separate box. And while Sky Sports worked for a while, it was clear that at some stage it would stop working, as Sky weren’t happy that the solution was secure enough.
Ofcom’s new ruling
This week, Ofcom has ruled against Sky and their restriction on the usage of CAMs. That potentially opens the way to TopUpTV to sell subscriptions to Sky Sports using CAMs.
What it doesn’t mean, however, is that an older TV you have, and an old TopUpTV or EPSN CAM will now be able to receive Sky Sports via Freeview. TopUpTV tells me that you will need a new CI+ CAM for Sky Sports.
CI+ is an enhanced version of the original CAM system, which I described in this post. It should meet the security requirements of Sky, but of course it will need equipment that has a CI+ slot. Some recent TVs have them (I’ll investigate more to find out which ones), and it’s also worth noting that the Humax HDR Fox T2 Freeview HD recorder does as well.
So, in theory, the Humax will allow you to record Sky Sports (in SD only, as it’s not transmitted in HD on Freeview), once it’s equipped with a CI+ CAM. In practise, that’s something I’ll need to check up on – since there weren’t any services using CI+ in the UK, they might not have added everything necessary in the firmware yet.
What do you need?
If you want to get Sky Sports without a separate box, you’ll need a new CI+ CAM from TopUpTV. I expect these will be available early in the new year.
You will also need a TV that has a CI+ slot. On that front, you’re going to have to check the specs for your TV, and look for CI+ on any new kit you buy. It would be wise to make it clear to the shop that that is one of the reasons you’re buying a new TV, just in case you find the hardware’s present, but the software’s not up to scratch.
When I look at TVs in future for RegHardware, I’ll try to check whether or not they include CI+.