Sky+ Recording Without Subscription

Question: I have a Sky+ box and get the free channels, but I can’t record. How can I use Sky+ to record?

Sky+ Set-top BoxSky+ is a service offered by Sky Digital. It allows you to record TV programmes onto the hard drive built in to Sky+ and Sky+ HD boxes.

If you subscribe to Sky and have a Sky+ or Sky+ HD box, then the Sky+ service is free. If you don’t subscribe to any Sky TV channels, then you will need to take out a Sky+ Subscription to be able to use the record and playback facilities on the Sky+ box.

At the time of writing, a Sky+ subscription is free to those subscribing to any Sky TV package, otherwise it’s £10 a month to those that don’t subscribe to a Sky package.


Question: Why should I have to pay to use my Sky box after I cancel my Sky contract?

This is a pretty common practice in many fields these days… whilst you remain a loyal customer, you get a service for free, but once you cancel your contract, that service is not longer available. Other examples:

  • Free email addresses and web space from your broadband provider (deleted when you cancel)
  • Free voicemail and mobile Internet services on your phone (not available when you cancel)
  • A free modem or router that can’t be used if you move Internet provider

Sky’s not alone in restricting use of hardware after you cancel. If you cancel BT Vision, the BT Vision V+ box can no longer record, and if you cancel Virgin Media, the on demand services and TiVo functionality no longer work

The Sky box will still be able to get the free Sky channels, and you’ll be able to record them on a connected DVD or video recorder – it’s just the Sky+ recording and playback services that will be unavailable after you cancel.


Question: How do I get a Sky+ subscription?

If you have a Sky+ or Sky+ HD box, and subscribe to any of the Sky channel packages, then your Sky+ subscription will be free, and available on your Sky viewing card.

If your Sky+ service isn’t working, or you need to take out a Sky+ subscription, call Sky Customer Services on 08442 414 141.


Don’t want to pay for Sky+?

If you only want to watch free-to-view satellite TV channels and you want to be able to record and pause TV without paying a subscription, then you should consider getting a Freesat PVR – these allow you to record the Freesat channels onto a built-in hard disk, and support features like series link, live pause and rewind.

Our favourite Freesat hard-disk recorder is the Humax Foxsat HDR, pictured here. This holds up to 200 hours of satellite TV and also supports HD. There’s no subscription.

Humax Foxsat HDR

Humax Foxsat HDR Freesat PVR

For a list of Freesat Recorders, see: UK Freesat Box List


Robert CooperApril 4th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I have been a Sky customer since 2002 and Sky+ since 2005. Last month I cancelled my subscription and reverted to Sky Freesat. I find that I cannot record and programmes previously recorded have been wiped from the disc.
My complaints are:
1. Programmes recorded whilst I was a paying customer should not have been removed.
2. Since the Sky+ box has a hard drive like any other PVR, I consider that the recording facility should not have been disabled.

Please let me have your opinion.

TV and TechApril 4th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I guess one way to look at this, is to compare the Sky+ subscription to a Broadband subscription or a mobile phone subscription.

If you take out, say, a mobile phone contract with o2, and then decide to cancel, you can no longer use services like o2 voicemail or o2’s mobile web service. You get to keep the phone, but it’s locked so some services are disabled, and you can’t use it on another network

Similarly, if you have BT Broadband and decide to cancel, you can’t use services like BT’s webmail, and you lose your BT email address. You can’t use your Home Hub or BT Vision box on another network.

Sky’s doing the same sort of thing – they offer you their Sky+ recording service for free whilst you subscribe. If you unsubscribe, the service is still available, but it’s just no longer free.

For what it’s worth, the same seems to be true with the BT Vision and Virgin Media PVRs…

Sky will no doubt tell you that this is part of the terms and conditions you agreed to when you took out Sky+, but it doesn’t hurt to contact Sky and let them know you’re not happy. Perhaps try for a free month’s worth of Sky+, as a former loyal customer? That might give you enough time to copy off any old recordings that you care about…

Please let us know how you get on Robert?

PaulNovember 21st, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I disagree with your comment they are providing a service. As with a lot of technology these large organisations change the landscape in order to line their pockets at the expense of the consumer, then future generations are not aware that things were different previously.

What do I mean, The humble VHS available with out subscription !. This is old technology, but where is the option to buy and use as a recorder a sky+ box?. We should not be paying to record our favourite programmes while we are out or on holiday. How quickly do people forget we did this for the purchase price of the VHS recorder.

It is also not acceptable to delete recorded programmes that were legitimately recorded and paid for. It is like SKY entering your house and removing your VHS and all the tapes!!.

They will abuse their power in every way they can.

Sports were free to view in the past, then came SKY sports which has destroyed Football, players have no loyalty and are over paid, it has reduced opportunities for English players to the detriment of the English team. What do sky do next ? They charge you as a SKY Sports customer to watch a pay to view boxing match, the nerve of these guys, and people are too blind or apathetic to kick it back.

If you have 2 TV’s in the house do you pay two Television licenses ? Sky do for multiroom. I am still paying for my HD box but I can’t use the SKY+ box to record.

Why can I not buy the channels I want ? instead of subscribing to lots that I never watch? after SKY1 and the documentary channels there is little else.

SKY will look for every opportunity to bleed us dry and as their power grows this will only get worse. If we all cancelled out subscriptions and bought DVD box sets and watched Sport at the pub they would have to sit up and take notice, but that will never happen as the public will not act as one.

kennyDecember 13th, 2011 at 7:01 pm

good post paul i have just packed in my sky subscription it took half an hour on the phone wrangling with a girl at sky while she put every obstacle in the way of me leaving in the end i threatened sky with legal action if she did not close my account, i will never go back to sky tv again she has put me of for life.

PaulDecember 31st, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I too left Sky recently after having been a subscriber for over 10 years, simply because I cannot afford it any more. I don’t agree with your comparison of Sky+ with broadband. I paid for a piece of equipment and it’s installation. I also paid monthly to view tv channels and I fully accept that I no longer have the ability to view them now, however, how can you justify that a part of the functionality of the equipment I paid for can no longer be used? If you buy a car on lease purchase, would you find it acceptable that your car’s radio can no longer be used after the HP agreement ended?

TV and TechJanuary 1st, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Hi Paul. Welcome to any suggestiosn to may have for a better analogy? Perhaps that of a mobile phone… whilst in contract you can use that network’s voicemail, but when you cancel that contract, the voicemail is no longer available? If you can think of a better comparison, please let us know

John O'NeillJanuary 3rd, 2012 at 11:43 pm

I for one totally agree with Paul’s comments above. I have been a sky customer for over a decade. Before Christmas they called me to see if I was interested in a special offer of movie channels for half price for 3 months. I agreed to sign up to this package. I asked if they can automatically cancel the service after the special offer period and yes you guessed it….they said NO. Okay so they told me I would have to call them back 31 days before The end of the offer to cancel the service. Okay so I agreed to do this BUT…..when I needed to call them I could not get a telephone number. Okay so I could check my Sky bill for a number but wait…they don’t send me bills. (just charge you without giving you a breakdown of charges). Okay so I thought I would check the website. No Irish phone numbers listed. (I am based in Ireland). Decided to make a complaint.. Rang number listed for complaints and after spending half hour on phone explaining my issues I was told that I should contact customer complaints!!! The guy seemed uninterested when I explained that I had just called the customer complaints number listed. I asked him to arrange for someone to call me back. He said NO they do not call people back. Asked what the call charges were for me to ring him and was advised premium rate call number!! NICE! Eventually I lost my temper and asked him to cancel my Sky subscription and he said he could not do this (would have to send a letter to UK from Ireland to cancel (wow what customer service). Long story short; anyone thinking of using Sky service be warned! These guys are a bunch of money grabbing w@0re5! They treat customers like sh1t end of!

StevebbJanuary 5th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Hi, I bought a secondhand Sky+ box at a car boot, so I’ve got no gripe that I can’t record on it. However, as refered to above, video recorders still work, so here’s what I do:

I have a Sky box from an old subsciption, so I play this to the main tv.

The Sky+ box, (just used as a plain sky box) is conected to the second satelite feed, (a previous occupier must have had Sky+), and from this I connected a scart to my video recorder.

The video recorder is connected to the 2nd scart socket on my main tv, so I can watch the programs I record from the + box.

So I’ve got a poor mans Sky+ system, but it works & I can watch on channel while recording another.

Another advantage of this setup is that I also connect the Sky+ box RF output to a distribution box in the loft, which feeds every room in the house, so 1 person can watch the main sky box in the living room, and someone else can watch another channel in another room (with remote as well)

All this is free and legal and equipment costs can be a few pounds if you don’t already have some of the bits, as old sky boxes and videos are ten a penny as no-one wanrts them now.

Hope this is useful

brianJanuary 14th, 2012 at 1:08 am

The difference between a concept and a principle is that the former is based on imagination/relativity/rationality/others and the latter absoluteness/reality/truth/self. People can justify anything but when it comes to birth-death, there can be no argument about right & wrong – self is one’s reality/kinetic whereas others’ reality is merely one’s knowledge/potential.

A product with certain functions do not have to rely on another to function. Only a royalty based function needs to be indirectly controlled. For example, you buy a cassette recorder to record what you are going to record and do not need to pay a royalty for using the recording function just because another is using the same recording function to pirate music. The perpetual income crooks have been using a myriad of rationalites to tar all with the same brush. They are succeeding because most will not stand up and say “No” to being tarred with the same brush – like paying Sky a subscription to use the PVR function on your PVR recorder. The aim of Infinitisers is to stop ownership in favour of renting. Laugh as one may, but a day will arrive, given time and opportunity, when all will have to rent their clothes. Then, serial adulters will rejoice about renting their spouse, oka prostitution. Far fetched indeed.

Only the stupid, oka the overly complex, or the dumb, oka the overly simple, will allow their freedom to be controlled by the perpetual-income crooks oka the Infinitisers. Either Sky is controlled by reality through the politicians or they are allowed free reign by their politico bumpals. The human being a creature of duality, it will always be the latter if only because when there is a beginning, there will always be an ending. Afterall, destruction is others’ reality until it knocks on one’s door. And that is the way it will be because come the day when the earth is shaking constantly and the oceans keep rising higher without pause, there will be some high-fiving about their 3rd escape with others out selling “insurance policies” because the opportunity is knocking. A human is stupid because he was dumb and vice-versa because Stupdity is Dumbness suppressed whereas Dumbness is none other than Stupdity expressed. Between these 2 dichotomies, reality will never be realised other than momentarily which is when the stupid-cum-dumb needs to be given a momentary light to keep us insane enough to be willfully enslaved. Just what bananas and wet holes are for. Not to mention £10/month PVR functions, oka the rental model of the business of perpetual income.

MarkJanuary 16th, 2012 at 8:13 am

I think what’s he’s trying to say is “Sky wants your money”. There are alternatives to Sky and Sky+ and if you don’t want to go with Sky – go elsewhere.

Just be aware that Virgin and BT Vision do the same as Sky – you can’t use their boxes if you cancel the service either.

peterJanuary 18th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

hi is there not A SKY ENGINEER OUT THERE THAT KNOWS HOW TO GET SKY plus box to pause and record after you have cancelled you subscription,can the box be opened and something inside changed ,i have been told it is the viewing card that stops you being able to pause and record

RolandJanuary 29th, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I’m surprised that no one has mounted a legal challange to this, or even taken a small claims. If you own the equipment the functionality of that equipment is your’s. If you then decide to go freeview, (which sky must allow you to under their contract to have the satelite monoploy they do,) I can’t see how they can charge you for services such as PVR and freesat HD which we are all entitled to.

Mike SeatonJanuary 31st, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Be very careful of SKY’s use of Direct Debits, they believe they can do almost anything. They trebled my monthly direct debit one month in error. I asked for a refund, they said it would take 10days. rang them again 10days later after NO refund, they apologised and said they transferred the money to My Sky Account. I said NO and requested a refund back to my bank, they said you won’t lose the money, it will be used for future payments.

In the end I put the phone down after getting-nowhere with their Telesales People, rang my bank and the full 3x payment was refunded within 4days.

A week later Sky phoned and ask why I cancelled my contract – God forbid they are Idiots and NOT to be TRUSTED.

GaryFebruary 2nd, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I have been informed very recently that a “Firmware” modification on the Sky + box allows up to 20 hours of recording ,along with the pause rewind function ! Anyone out there confirm this ? If this is true, there must be something on the web showing how to do this. I will check “How to” on youtube now and post any results.

DaveFebruary 2nd, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I have Just read all the above thread with great interest as my aged mother in law has asked me if I can find out why she cannot now access recordings made before cancelling her sky+ subscription.
Knowing from past experience what callous profiteers sky have been in the past, my instinctive thought was that they would disable various fuctions of the box. At least they are consistent!

I installed a Humax (dual decoder and hard drive recorder) much like the one above for my ex in the same house, as the land based freeview signal was too weak, and she very pleased with it. I may have to do the same for her Mum. I agree with most of the above – tho I’m glad I’m not on whatever Brian is on! theer must be a way round the scuppering of the box that sky does. Get yer thinkinn hats on!!

XtraPenniesFebruary 6th, 2012 at 6:25 pm

This may sound daft but does the telephone connection have anything to do with the ability to record. Would unplugging the line before cancellation make any difference regarding the ability to record?

TV and TechFebruary 6th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Nothing to do with the phone line. Subscription commands are sent to the subscription card over the air via satellite, and not over the phone line.

KarlFebruary 8th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Same happened to me when I cancelled sky subscription – happily thought I’d be able to record, pause etc!!!!doh!!!
I agree with Brians sentiments – however it is surprising that no-one has yet mounted a legal challenge to this!!. Surely the court of human rights should be alerted – after all – after a year the box is yours – and so should all the functions be!!!

Have a look on the website “Scambook” – they are good at this sort of “scam”!!!

KimFebruary 11th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

[quote]Hi Paul. Welcome to any suggestiosn to may have for a better analogy? Perhaps that of a mobile phone… whilst in contract you can use that network’s voicemail, but when you cancel that contract, the voicemail is no longer available? If you can think of a better comparison, please let us know[/quote]

Very bad counter example :)
Voice mail is a service provided by the netwrok it has nothing to do the phone itself.
Paul’s analogy is correct he is talking about the equiptment specific functionality. i.e. Sky+HD functions are not available in old sky boxes..

TV and TechFebruary 11th, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Kim, I think you may have misunderstood my meaning…

I have used the examples of a broadband router and a mobile phone to try to illustrate other examples of other situations similar to what Sky does. If you can think of any better examples, that would be appreciated!

We’re looking for other examples of where something stops working when you cancel a subscription. Be interested to see what you come up with

SindyFebruary 11th, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Very interesting topic. I am glad I never fell into the trap of sky or sky plus boxes. 10 years ago I had a free installation of the sky dish and digi box. I was on the minimum package of £18.00 a month. I cancelled it after a year as I wasn’t watching all the channels anyway. They had offered me to take insurance for the digi box and i never took it. Any way I have been using the box for the last 9 years to watch all the freeview channels.

About 5 years I felt the need to record programmes to watch for later and to miss out the adverts. People were telling me to get the skyplus box and I knew that this was going to cost me a lot more in the long run. So I bought myself a Hard drive dvd recorder for less than £200. This is probably the best thing I ever bought. Not only can i record the programmes, I can use the pause rewind facility, but best of all, all my favourite programmes I can make a hard copy on a dvd and share it with other people.

On the sky plus box you can only watch it there , you cant copy a programme to watch on another tv or give to someone else. I have also inherited a sky plus box from someone else. I connected it to the satelite cable in another room. Although it works but I i obviously cant use the record facility so I am searching for a good pvr or dvd recorder. I am looking for one which has the facility to copy to a computer or another extrenal hard drive so I can regularly free up the space in it.
Any suggestions would be greatly be appreciated. I think the sky packages are a rip off you should be able to pick,choose and pay for for the channels you want and not the packages they offer you


DugFebruary 11th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

The whole set up is a sheer rip off no doubting that the answer is to cancel en-masse you have certainly opened my mind to the possibilities my £45 @ mth subscription will be getting cancelled forthwith and a suitable receiver/recorder purchased for a number of reasons mainly Skys attitude to their customers but also the issues with previously recorded programmes and more importantly the sheer volume of Sky + boxes we have had over the past 5+ yrs with almost one a year it seems that as soon as the years up where you own it they start stalling, erroring and such which also means you loose all recorded materials at this point.

Had enough now time to think laterally find it very hard to beleive however that nobody has found a way around this when those in the know can clone and steal your bank account and identity they can hack into the pentagons computer and so many other similarily important things yet nobody has yet worked out how to make a Sky box work after cancelling the subscription its truly laughable.

MaxFebruary 20th, 2012 at 4:41 pm

some great advice here. recently bought a Sky+ HD box which is used without subscription. wondered why it wouldn’t record (even tho seller on eBay assured me it would). have connected a DVD recorder and can record fine. am watching a few Freesat boxes cos these look a better long term option.

mikeFebruary 22nd, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Well all I can say to the majority of freeloaders out there is I’m all for something for nothing or bucking the system but you pay for the technology and put it in space and see if you want paying for it. I’m all for getting something for nothing but c’mon there are plenty of alternatives that will cost you about £80 as long as you settle for Freeview.
Mr M

Colin DerbyshireMarch 14th, 2012 at 9:59 am

Would love to see a rise in Freesat and Freeview use.
I had a Sky+ receiver that failed and they said as it was now my property I had to pay for a replacement. If the box is mine, why can’t I do as I wish with it when it’s working? So you can’t use your own property to record channels that are free to air. I am forgetting Sky and going for a Freesat DVR.

NoDabbleMarch 21st, 2012 at 9:10 am

Like a lot of the posters above, I too cancelled my Sky subscription (£35/month) in favour of the FTA channels. However, I opted to retain the PVR functionality for £10/month as I really like the intuitive feel and responsiveness of their HD box.

What I wasn’t banking on was not being able to play back programmes in my planner that I recorded whilst being a subscriber. Like some of the other posters, I feel it is completely unfair that programmes I paid for at the time cannot be viewed now, simply because I don’t subcribe to any new content.

I paid for them, I recorded them, are they not mine to do what I want with?

For what its worth, I will attempt to speak to their customer services on the matter.

NoDabbleMarch 21st, 2012 at 10:37 am

By the way, somebody above was asking for an anology. I have one…

Suppose I subscribe to What Car magazine for 12 months, then cancel my subscription and no longer receive any future issues. I then discover that I am unable to read the issues I’ve already bought. I can see them there on my bookshelf but I am not allowed to open them.

Is this fair? No. Is it even legal???

NoDabbleMarch 23rd, 2012 at 7:48 am

Sky’s response:

Thank you for your email complaining about the recordings you’re unable to view.
I’m sorry to inform you that as you no longer subscribe to Sky, you will not be able to view the content you’ve recorded your recordings.
I understand that you have not de-faulted on your payments, however, due to the account being cancelled the recordings automatically gets deleted.
Whilst I realise that you may be disappointed with the decision made, I hope that you can appreciate our position on this matter.

Kind regards

xjackoApril 9th, 2012 at 4:47 pm

It is about time we all stood up against Sky! I just dumped my subscription to to lack of money and I agree with all of the above criticism , what a wake up call! On top of the fact you are not alow to use the hardware you have purchased they also charge extra to watch HD channels. What a rip off!! I have ordered a Sony PVR. Goodbye Sky.

AMerryGoRoundApril 12th, 2012 at 10:46 am

I don’t think the mobile phone analogy is a bad one at all really. If you take a contract out with a service provider, you will pay less for the phone but also pay a monthly subscription fee (I believe the price of a Sky+ box is generally cheaper than a full price PVR). If you cancel your subscription, then quite a few phones are be locked to the provider, which you will have to pay to unlock. In addition, you will lose the ability to access any voicemails that were previously left whilst still paying for the service. If your texts/ numbers are saved to sim, then you’d lose those. Yes, you could save them to the phone, and still access them, but the Sky+ box doesn’t work by saving the film/TV program straight to the hard disc. Its VideoCard encryption means that it can only be read using a valid subscription from a connection to the satellite (which is why if you were to cut the connection between the satellite and box you wouldn’t be able to play recorded programs, even if you are still subscribing). It’s not entirely a hardware issue, otherwise you’d be able to watch them. Sky+ is a service provided by Sky, with their own hardware, with its own encryption mechanisms. I would hardly call it a scandal. Nor is this new to any business (as pointed out, virgin and BT do the same thing).

Jack HaddonApril 19th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I’m glad I read these comments; I hadn’t appreciated that if I downgraded to Freesat for Sky I would lose the recorded programmes on my Sky+ box.
The simple answer for me then is to get my PVR or dvd recorder before I cancel my package and record saved programmes from the skybox (p 41 in my copy of the Sky+HD manual).

SteveJohnApril 23rd, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I cannot understand how they can legally stop you watching programs you recorded when you had a subscription.
If I cancel my broadband subscription everthing I downloaded is still available to watch / use. Even the emails are still on my hardrive aand I can read them

TV and TechApril 23rd, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Hi Steve,

Best to think of it like voicemail (mobile phone) or webmail (Internet)

Let’s say you get a voicemail whilst you’re an o2 customer. Try accessing that recording after your subscription has ended. Even though you got the message when you were a subscriber, and are still using the same hardware (phone), the message and service are no longer available to you.

Even email works as an example. Let’s say you’re with BT for your email. You can choose to check your email by using webmail (from a browser), or by downloading emails from their system to your computer. If you cancel, you’re no longer able to use BT webmail (their system), but messages you’ve downloaded to your computer are still there.

With Sky, shows you’ve copied to a DVD or video are fine (your system), but the recording facilities on the box are no longer available.

Sky+, BT Vision, Virgin Media, voicemail and webmail all use the same type of subscription logic.

JimTechApril 30th, 2012 at 11:25 am

The thing with Sky recordings is that they are recorded raw – with the encryption on them.

Once your subscription (or relevant package) is gone you are no longer authorised to decode the recording – hence you can’t watch it.

Totally agree with the comments on recording free-to-air channels without a subscription – mean thing for them to do.

steve jamesMay 26th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

wat a ripoff u pay them all the money and that for installation etc.. and u cant record programmes anymore i feel conned!!!

DJ CTUJune 2nd, 2012 at 12:19 am

You dont need analogy’s

At the end of the day, you have paid for the service, its recorded and stored on the box, so even after you end your subscription, you should still have access to all you have recorded as its been paid for.

PhilJune 17th, 2012 at 6:43 pm

theres a block on ebay selling sky plus boxs on freesat that can record he said boxes have modified software to allow you to pause rewind and record without subscription. is this true???????

Woody1130July 15th, 2012 at 9:03 pm

The analogies offered by tv and tech are nuts!!

Your voicemail analogy or email are silly at best. Those functions are done on servers that the providers hold, Sky+ is a feature of the box itself, much like making calls is a feature of the phone, if i stop paying my provider or cancel I won’t be able to make calls, but if I go with someone else as my provider I can use that function again. this is because the phone will make calls providing there’s a network it can connect to, not because my previous provider lets me. If a piece of hardware that you own can perform a function that relies solely on said hardware then you should be able to use it, both your analogies describe services.

In fact to clarify further, if you have taken out a phone contract and the phone takes pictures (a function that the hardware performs just like the sky+ recording function) then I wouldn’t expect all my photos to be removed after my contract ends and not be able to take any more.

It is best YOU think about it as a piece of hardware that can record and not as a service as you would be wrong.

Sky limits your access to hardware functions to make extra money after you leave, it’s a business and it can do this, and even if it’s not legal (it probably is) then no one has challenged this.

I have no problem with this but your analogies are wrong, sky and yourself are pretending the recording feature is a service, sky do this because it sounds better than saying ‘if you want to use your box then you’ll have to pay more, that way we can capitalise otherwise we cripple your box’ (I would respect their honesty more), when in actual fact it’s a hardware function that is remotely blocked when you leave your subscription via the software and viewing chip.

You are asking for anaologies thy fit with your point but aren’t getting any because your wrong.

My camera phone analogy would fit best, could you imagine, phone providers asking for subscription to take pictures on your phone because it was a service they provided hahaha

TV and TechJuly 15th, 2012 at 9:50 pm


Sky+ functionality is free whilst you’re a TV subscriber, but not free when you’re not a TV subscriber. Regardless of the technical way that SKy does it, or the reasons why Sky does it, that’s the situation.

Recording functions are not available when you cease to subscribe to their TV packages. Whether you agree with this policy or not, that’s the way it is, and Virgin and BT both do the same.

An analogy can be defined as: “a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect”

Your proposed mobile phone camera analogy doesn’t work:

– If you cease a phone contract, you CAN still take photos
– If you cease Sky TV, you CANNOT record

With the greatest respect… your analogy doesn’t work, and if we were to use that to illustrate Sky’s behaviour, that’d be more nuts than what we currently have listed.

We are looking for an example of something that behaves like Sky+ functionality after cancellation, not something that DOESN’T behave like Sky+ functionality after cancellation.

Can you try to have a think about a better analogy for something that is similar to the current behaviour?

FreeAtLastAugust 3rd, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Woody1130 is spot on. I paid £200 odd to buy my Sky HD box outright (had no choice at the time) and believe I should therefore benefit from all of it’s capabilities now my contract has ended. Sky is no longer involved, it’s our kit, we just need to figure out how to make it work!

eddshouseSeptember 26th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I paid £300 orginally for my sky+ box a few years ago and I do feel that you should have the right to continue to be able to access the pvr function on the hardware after cancelling your contract. The broadband comparison is way off, because the router is still technically functional. You should be paying sky for their content only, either that or you get all equipment free at the start of your contract and return it at the end (like cable companies used to do). It’s about time a legal challenge was launched against sky about this. If I win the lottery, I’ll get the ball rolling!

TV and TechSeptember 26th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Routers: be interested to know how you’re able to get a BT Home Hub to work with another Internet company

WOctober 15th, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Seems to me that the Sky subscription principle is that while you subscribe, you can watch. Whether you’re watching what’s on now or what was on last week/whenever, the principle is the same; you are paying to watch stuff.

The question really is; do people understand this when they sign up, and if they don’t, are Sky ar fault for not making this clear?

Karlos63October 16th, 2012 at 8:46 am

The obvious question to all of this is: Is there some way to get round the problem, I am intending to dump Sky for many of the reasons metioned, but mainly because the line rental has just increased by 25% and Virgin is £20 less for the same package. The reasons aside there must be a way of accessing the previously recorded material. Does anyone have any idea?

TV and TechOctober 16th, 2012 at 9:18 am

There are two options for accessing previously recorded content. One is to take out a Sky+ subscription (for around £10 a month) for long enough to transfer the content over to DVD. The second is to find someone with a Sky+ subscription card and get the card linked to your box. This should re-enable the Sky+ service on your box, and disable it on your friend’s box. When you’ve accessed the content, get the card switched back to your friend. Can’t be 100% sure that would work, but might be worth exploring.

M1k1eNovember 15th, 2012 at 12:06 am

Karlos63 and others. TV and Tech seems keen to defend Sky using mobile phones as a comparison. What isn’t said is that most mobile phones can be unlocked to work on any network and enable all features inbuilt to the phone. Most High Streets have a shop that will do it for you.

One model of Sky Plus box can also be modified to record and playback without any subscription. It goes no further than that. It doesn’t allow you to watch channels which need a subscription, however it does enable the playback of programs previously recorded which are still on the hard drive. They are NOT deleted. Bottom line is that if you find one of these boxes for sale and ask for your hard drive to be put in it, not only will you be able to watch all your previous recordings, but have a fully functional free to view pvr.

zebedeeJanuary 5th, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Anyone know what inserting a Sky card actually does inside the box? I’ve never suscribed to any of these serices, so I don’t know what a card looks like.

zebedeeJanuary 5th, 2013 at 7:57 pm

M1k1e. Please don’t leave us all hanging in the air. Which model, and what is the modification?

m@ttFebruary 7th, 2013 at 10:35 pm

What an interesting thread. I have recently ended my sky subscription. I was prepared for the PVR functionality to end as have been through this before, although I didn’t own my box the last time I cancelled but this time I did. It is rather underhanded of Sky or any other media service to employ this tactic. I have been in communication with Sky and they informed me it costs several hundred pounds for them to send a signal to keep this feature enabled, I have tried to point out that a signal is only required because they designed it that way, I haven’t had a response to my last email funnily enough.

A bit of research has indicated that Sky uses open source software on their boxes but this alone does not mean that their encoding can be circumvented but is certainly food for thought.

I did chuckle at their claims to being an environmentally responsible company. The “service model” they employ simply encourages people to purchase another piece of equipment to replace, what could be, a fully functioning PVR.

Anyway on another note if you are considering leaving Sky and don’t want to spend half an hour trying to be convinced why you should stay with them then simply tell them you no longer have a TV. Around Five minutes later with the added bonus of a dumbfounded telesales operator without a script and I was free of their subscription, happy days.

CookieJune 7th, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I believe
this is wrong, lets suppose 20 years ago you had a VHS video recorder connected to your tv (which you probably did lol) and you recorded loads of programmes/films and series (which you probably did lol) you then found yourself with a bookshelf full of VHS videos..

you then decided to not continue with your tv licence, a week later two men turn up and erase all your VHS tapes..this is NOT a comparison but an exact match

peteOctober 25th, 2013 at 12:49 am

i’m dumbfounded by the coments of tv tech….are you actually sky’s pr department????
mobile phone analogy is the biggest load of propoganda since the war!!!!
if you want to use analogy of mobile phones try the two very simple points which actually relate to that which you are describing!!!!
subscribe to a phone contract and get a phone……
download free apps and receive text messages and mms (is that right for picture messages). whilst on that contract…..
finish your contract and keep your phone……
do not pay any phone company any money at all ever again!!!
now lets see if our phone is useless?????
go to the coffee bar, hook up to their free wi-fi with your sim card less phone…..
don’t bother giving me any bs about this not being like sky, of course its not like sky, its how sky plus boxes should be!!!!

TV and TechOctober 25th, 2013 at 6:45 am

Really Pete… do we have to explain this again?

We use the mobile phone analogy to give an example of what ending your Sky+ contract is like. That’s what an analogy is.

Fact: You lose functionality when you end a mobile phone contract
Fact: You lose functionality when you end a Sky+ contract

There are similarities here… do you see?

We’re trying to explain that lots of companies do this kind of thing… broadband providers, mobile phone companies, other TV service providers… all sorts. They do this to keep you locked in as a customer, so that you don’t defect to a rival provider.

Why do you think this is propaganda? We’re trying to demonstrate that this type of thing happens all the time, and it’s a technique used by loads of other companies?

As we have asked before… if you strongly disagree that there are similarities in the way a mobile phone company locks you in and Sky locks you in… please come up with a better real-world analogy of how Sky locks you in.

No-one else has managed it – perhaps you will…

alan wilsonOctober 26th, 2013 at 11:24 am

Sky will let you subscribe on-line but you need to speak to an ADVISOR – if you want to cancel – these ADVISORS are trained in rudeness, aggression and tenacity – all tempered by political correctness – naturally! – the Eagles summed up the Sky experience with their excellent Hotel California – that went ; You can check-out any time you like, – But you can never leave! ”
When will the regulator bring these cowboys to task?

Karen BlackburnMarch 3rd, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Was with sky for years then moved to the country where satellite and cable couldn’t be accessed. When I moved back to Dublin I went to UPC (cable) because they were offering a special deal. However, they only offered a few of the sky channels, most of which I don’t want to watch, while the channels we would watch were unavailable. Their customer service was also hard to access. When we moved again we switched back to Sky, the best decision we ever made. All the channels we like to watch available for E35pm, we could record 2 programmes while watching a pre-recorded one, and best of all customer services are easy to contact, always available to speak to and inevitably polite and, above all, incredibly helpful. If I’m late paying one month and I’m cut off we ring up, contacting them not a problem, explain and pay over the phone and service is resumed within minutes. Again, any programmes/films on the box I take off if I want to keep them. Common sense and besides, we soon run out of space on the hard disk. They are miles better than cable, and I get far far more channels than I could ever watch for what is really a very modest sum. If I pay for a service, any service, and then stop paying I am no longer entitled to that service. This applies to Sky as much as any other company. I’ll stay with them as long as possible, and hopefully they’ll still be there when I move back to my home country with a service that is a good as it it in Ireland.

Bro3neyMay 22nd, 2014 at 7:45 am

My friend had an old programme saved to his sky box that was important to him. The only way he found to extract the footage is explained in this video.

CallcomJuly 18th, 2014 at 3:56 pm

For a few quid you can get a USB tv tuner + software to record on any PC or laptop with enough hard drive capacity. A PVR like humax will do the same job for a couple of hundred quid.

However I own my Sky 1Tb box and I will be continuing to use it after my exorbitant sub expires to record free to air channels.

RogNovember 13th, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I find it incredible that Sky and all the other companies get away with creating so much obsolete kit that ends up being chucked and disposed of at cost into landfill or recycling. Just because they are too mean to allow users to carry on using the recording functionality.

OrchidNovember 15th, 2014 at 11:50 pm

Mobile phone analogy:

I download music and/or apps on my phone whilst on contract. I end my contract but I can still access my apps and listen to my music. I can also download new apps and music without a phone service and use them. On Sky, I end my contract and I cannot watch what I have already paid for and downloaded nor can I record then watch anything new despite it being on a hard drive and requiring no external provider.

Your analogy doesn’t add up as the service I want to use require no external provider ie hard drive, but your analogy does I.e. Voicemail is not recorded on a mobile hard drive and Internet would need an external provider.

The point is, Sky are restricing a service that DOESN’T get restricted on comparable products. I have paid for the Sky+ box I should be able to use the inbuilt functionality.

TV and TechNovember 15th, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Blimey – I can’t believe that three years on people are still arguing that they disagree with mobile phone analogy. Once again, can I ask you to suggest a better analogy? We’ll be happy to use that instead, if you can think of one!

OrchidNovember 16th, 2014 at 12:30 am

That’s because it was a con three years ago and it is a con now.

A better analogy in what way? I’ve explained it in post above?

OrchidNovember 16th, 2014 at 12:33 am

You posted:

“As we have asked before… if you strongly disagree that there are similarities in the way a mobile phone company locks you in and Sky locks you in… please come up with a better real-world analogy of how Sky locks you in.”

My analogy shows that other companies offer a comparable service that don’t lock you in as Sky do….

TV and TechNovember 16th, 2014 at 9:17 am

I have to disagree on four counts Orchid.

Firstly – The comparable alternatives to Sky are Virgin Media and BT TV – They are the other two players in the subscription TV market. All three offer discounted set-top boxes, and lock you in. Like Sky, their set-top boxes lose functionality too if you cease to be a customer. A cable TV box won’t work without cable. You can only use the BT box if you have a BT phone line and BT Broadband. If you stop subscribing to the service, you can’t use the box any more. Sky is not unique in doing this.

Secondly – Whilst I acknowledge the point about downloaded music on a mobile phone – I believe that people buy mobile phones primarily as mobile communication devices, not as mp3 players. If you buy a phone from o2, it will be locked to o2. Cancel your subscription, put a Vodafone SIM in it, and it can’t make calls, use mobile data, receive voicemail, send texts, etc. It’s primary function is crippled if you stop paying. Just as with a Sky, Virgin or BT TV recorder.

Thirdly – Analogy can be defined as “a thing which is comparable to something else in significant respects, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification”. So, we are looking for an example of something that is similar to what Sky does. The closest we could find is the mobile phone or broadband example. If you can think of a better example to help explain what Sky, Virgin & BT does, let us know.

Finally – You say that a Sky box can record TV shows without an external provider. To record on Sky, you use something called an EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) – This is a regularly-updated list of channels with a seven-day list of recordable shows. The box uses information in the EPG (times, channels, series link, etc) to record TV shows. Who do you think provides this service? Correct – Sky. How can you record a show on a Sky box without the EPG, which is supplied by Sky?

TV and TechNovember 16th, 2014 at 9:18 am

It amazes me that people are still struggling to understand why Sky does this, or to agree that other companies use similar tactics.

Companies try to lock you in their service by a) using unique hardware, and b) offering features that stop working if you leave.


1. A mobile phone company give you a cheap handset that won’t work if you switch to a rival network, and offer features tied to their network that you don’t get if you leave

2. Broadband companies supply a free router that only works on their network and stops working if you switch to another network. They offer features tied to their accounts that you lose if you leave

3. Sky, Virgin and BT supply a free or discounted set-top box that only works on their TV service, and stops working if you stop subscribing. They offer features tied to their accounts that you lose if you leave

The reasons they do this, is to recoup the cost of the subsidised hardware, keep you as a subscriber, and to make more money from you over time. Other companies do the same sort of thing, for example – content downloaded from the Apple Store that only works on Apple devices, Kindle books can only be read on a Kindle, etc. It’s surprisingly common in the business world.

You REALLY can’t see that all of these companies use broadly similar tactics to retain your business?

LukeNovember 30th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

As sky’s buiness model is to charge for all call outs, Sky has by far become more expensive than Cable.

Whenever I’ve been offered a sky + box at all the different prices per hard drive size, I simply ask, as I’m purchasing this larger hard drive, which records all non subscription channels to so when I cancel my subscription I expect my recording functionality to remain the answer is always no.

This is actually highly illegal, As to pay extra for a Larger hard drive, With full recording functionality of non subscription channels. Only then to get it deactivated when sky don’t want you anymore, makes the hardrive upgrade completely unfit for purpose. I’d luv to see this go to court.

All it will take is £20 small claims. They haven’t got a leg to stand on.

RebeccaJanuary 21st, 2015 at 2:43 am

I bought a film from Skys buy and keep service. I paid £13.99 for it.
My contract with Sky recently ended and I didn’t bother to renew it due to terrible customer service.

Tonight I wanted to watch the film I had bought.
I went to my planner, clicked on the film and nope. Unable to watch it.

How is that legal?
I bought the sky+ HD box, I paid £199 for it two years ago. I bought the film, so why am I unable to watch the film I paid for on the box I paid for?

Surely that is illegal?

DarrenFebruary 6th, 2015 at 3:56 pm

@ TV and Tech. You keep using services as an analogy and that is wrong. The HDD and recording ability is a functionality of the box NOT a service. Therefore it should not be disabled. Mobile networks voicemail and ISP mail services are just that, ongoing services that you pay for. The phone still works and belongs to you.

It is like buying a car and after the warranty runs out and you decide not to pay for an extended warranty. The manufacturer then turns around and say ok, your car will still drive but the boot is now locked so you cannot store anything in it. At the end of the day, the box is your property, they should not be able to deliberately disable a fundamental ability of a device that does not belong to them simply because you are no longer paying them for the service of broadcasting premium channels.

I have no issue with them wiping any content recorded on the device that was recorded from a premium (paid for channel) just allow me to use the box the record FREE TO AIR content.

TV and TechFebruary 6th, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Hi Darren,

First of all, Sky+ is a subscription service. As it is a service, it is appropriate to compare it to another service. If you don’t believe that Sky+ is a service, check out Sky’s Terms and Conditions, or Google it.

The Electronic Programme Guide data used to make the Sky+ work is not built into the box – it is delivered over-the-air via satellite. I appreciate that it may be confusing, but you should note that the a Sky+ box won’t record anything without getting information (times, channels, series link, etc) over-the-air from Sky. Just as a mobile phone’s voicemail doesn’t work without the back-end system, nor will the Sky+ service.

As for your car example, I’m afraid that just doesn’t work. This doesn’t happen in the real world (unless you know differently!). Perhaps you can think of a better real-world comparison?

What I think you may be missing, is that companies do this kind of thing to keep people locked in to their services. Although we all may not like the tactic, lots of companies do this kind of thing under the banner of “customer retention”. TV providers do it with set-top boxes, mobile phone operators do it with SIM-locked handsets and extra services, and broadband providers do it with email services and router hardware. Other examples of “customer retention” include locking you into a specific make of printer ink, coffee capsule, product refill, keyed cables, manufacturer-only spare parts, subscription websites… it;s more common than you may think.

I’m amazed that there are people out there that struggle to see why corporations do this sort of thing – to me it’s obvious that companies want to a) lock you in, b) recoup their costs on hardware outlay, and c) have a way of turning off services when the customer stops paying.

stevenFebruary 23rd, 2015 at 7:06 am

callcom – how will you manage to use the recording facility when you have left sky?

ConundrumMarch 1st, 2015 at 8:54 am

I am also the proud victim of a Sky box.
This one suddenly stopped working just on odd channels yet there is plenty of signal available and a £10 el cheapo freesat works perfectly well.

It occurs to me that there would be a market for a multimode (Freeview/Freesat/dual WiFi) dongle which plugs into a TV drawing its power from the USB (500mA max) and also records to microSD card.

wayneMarch 11th, 2015 at 5:42 pm

Your analogy of a mobile phone is very floored. Yes it’s blocked and access to the Internet is cancelled but unlike sky and this is the part that’s important. Any photos, videos, games ect that you save are yours to look at even if the ‘live side’ of the phone is non existent. This is where sky is out of order especially if you have brought films or sports programs ect. They take your money on top of the usual contract fees, then you leave and they stop you from watching what you’ve paid for. I think it’s disgusting. I was a loyal sky customer for ten yrs+ and have loads of ‘box office films’ I brought and now can’t watch. There’s the fairness in that.

Rob HMarch 24th, 2015 at 5:28 am

I have just terminated my sky subscription, as I decided I did not want to pay them £40 a month when I am watching the free to air channels almost all the time. I understand the logic behind them disabling the sky channel package as they pay for the content on these channels. I also know that the Freeview channels are not actually free as they are paid for by advertising on ITV and other commercial channels with the licence fee paying for the BBC offerings, which do not come cheap. However, as I have been with sky for a number of years I actually own the sky HD+ box I having paid for it multiple times over the period of subscription and this includes all the functionality of recording and playback. Therefore I don’t consider they have the legal right to disable the record function, which should still be available for the free to air channels!

I did make comment on this when I cancelled and I will be contacting them again to tell them this and advise I will be taking out a small claims court action against them should they not reconsider their actions, so we will see where this leads.

FLOMay 29th, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Nicely done Rob. Someone needs to show them that they are not that invincible as they think.
I still think that once you finished paying for a product that item will be you possession and with the cull functionality that was sold in the first place. I Will keep my eyes on this thread.

MackychanAugust 20th, 2015 at 7:36 am

The purchase price of a box is based on the size of the hard drive that is contained within it. If they make the hard drive unusable after your contract ends they should offer you a refund to the value of the original hard drive as they have effectively taken it back. If they thus consider the hard drive to always be their property at all times they shouldn’t have charged extra and gave us the impression it belongs to us. Even without a sky subscription you should expect contents on a hard drive that you own to be accessible, regardless of what files are contained. Freeview channels especially. Sky are effectively taking a virtual sledge hamme

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