Hot on the heels of a new deal to stream BBC iPlayer and ITV Player through its on-demand service, Sky has launched a new online service that makes its content available to non-Sky customers.

Launching in the first half of 2012, the service will include a range of content, including Sky Movies with sports added later in the year, on a variety of pricing options.

Users can pay monthly for unlimited access or rent a single movie on a pay-as-you-go basis, and this will be available on a range of connected devices.

Sky said the new service will also give users editorial support and recommendations to help viewers find the content they want.

Alongside the new service the satellite broadcaster will continue to develop Sky Go, which gives existing customers access to a range of live channels and on demand content.

Sky’s announcement is big news for the connected TV market and also for the pay TV industry. Up until now Sky and its competitors have relied on a subscription model to tie customers into their content, but the new service comes with no minimum contract.

Sky’s ambitions to be a major player in connected TV are obvious to see following today’s announcement and yesterday’s deal with the BBC and ITV.

The satellite broadcaster was forced to cave on its demand that the terrestrial channels should allow it to syndicate content rather than air it as a branded service. As BBC iPlayer is now available on nearly all connected TV services, Sky had to climb down to keep up with its competitors.

BSkyB has also acquired a 10% stake in social TV app Zeebox, securing exclusive rights to its service in the UK. Zeebox brings a social element to TV by allowing users to see what their friends are watching and talk about it online.

The app will be a great fit for Sky’s new online service and will surely be integrated when it is launched later this year.

All-in-all Sky is building a strong connected TV offering, and while it will face strong competition from the likes of Google and Microsoft, it seems this is a market that no one will be able to dominate due to the range of content available.

Therefore Sky is putting itself in a position to be one of the most attractive products in a crowded market place.