Big Issue

Here in the Big Issue column we take a regular look at the current issues that surround Sky+ and give our comment and analysis.

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This article - Sky+ Series Links Exposed    by James Payne
Posted on Monday 9th June 2003 



When Sky Digital first launched, one of the main marketing selling points was the Personal Planner. This was heavily promoted in all of Sky's literature, when trying to convert loyal customers from analogue to digital. The idea of the personal planner was simple. You selected a programme from any channel from the 7 day EPG listings and then pressed select. This then stored that chosen programme in the planner as a reminder. When this programme was then about to start a reminder banner appeared on the screen, inviting you to press select, which changed the channel for you, or to press back up to cancel the reminder.

Ingenious we all thought, however things didn't stop there. If you were to go on and highlight a programme that was in the planner, and then press the red button, it then set up the Autoview function. This set up a red A symbol next to the programme , and the idea was that 2 minutes before the chosen programme was about to start , the channel would automatically change to the selected programme. This was extremely handy because you could set your video timer to coincide with the autoview function, which then enabled you to record the chosen sky channel.

After a few weeks of playing with this new function, suddenly when you highlighted a programme and placed it into the planner, a green icon appeared at the bottom of the screen representing Series Link. This basically meant that when you highlighted certain programmes, if it supported the series link function, the green icon appeared. By pressing the green button on your sky remote, the series link was set. This was represented by a small green double ended arrow next to the programme. This meant that if a series link was set, it then automatically entered the next episode/showing in the planner (complete with series link still set). This function proved to be a godsend, especially if you're prone to forgetting that programmes are on.

When Sky+ was launched it is this series link function that comes into great use.

Theoretically, you can just set all your favourite programmes as reminders or to record, set up the series link option, and leave Sky to do the rest. As sky heavily promote, "Never Miss a Thing ".........If only that were true.

After 18 months we all know that not all broadcasters recognise this function and therefore it is not available on all channels. Mysteriously series links somehow still vanish on programmes that have never previously been a problem. This is extremely annoying when you have programmes set up with a link to record; you go away on holiday, only to return to find that the recording has failed because the link has somehow been broken. This begs the question, "Who is to blame for this, Sky or the broadcaster?" Answer, "We don't care! Just sort it out".

Sky downloaded new software on the 16th April, which apparently included making series links more reliable and robust. I still feel that the jury's still out on this, as links are still broken without any explanation or reason.

With so many channels now on sky it's hard to keep abreast of all the channels that support the series link function. Below is a full list of all the channels which do and those which do not support this most valuable feature. Please remember that just because a channel supports the feature, it doesn't mean every programme will offer it.

If you need to set up a regular recording for a channel that doesn't support Series Links, then why not set up a Manual Recording with a repeat frequency as desired. Of course this method is nowhere as neat as Series Links for a number of reasons:

1) You need to know what days/times future showings are on.
2) If future showings are at different times, then manual recording is no good.
3) The EPG Personal Planner entry won't show either Programme Name or programme information details.
4) If you have lots of Manul Recording entries in your planner, you won't necessarily be able to tell which recording is which without pressing play to take a look.

Series Link is a function that has taken 18 months to get going and gather pace (no pun intended). They now need to be more reliable & more widely available.

Happy searching, and remember, "Never Miss a Thing"

The Full list of Channels on Sky & whether they use Series Links - click here

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