I wrote yesterday wondering why Sky didn’t offer one-off coverage of sporting events like the Ashes online, as a way to pull in more revenue and attracting new users.

Having noticed that Sky has since introduced a special offer price of £17 for a month’s subscription online, I decided to sign up for it, but discovered that the usability on Sky.com needs some work….

If you go the Sky Player page which is advertised on TV, you get this page which promotes the offer:

Sky Player Ashes offer

With an explanation of the offer and a nice big call to action to sign up for the deal, it seems simple enough, but it gets pretty frustrating from this point onwards.

After pressing the sign up button, you then have the option to select whether or not you are a current Sky customer, but after selecting my option, I was sent straight back to the page above.

This in itself would be enough to deter some customers, but after trying a couple more times, I arrived at the page at a point where it happened to be showing this, one of five possible options:

Having pressed the call to action on the landing page, I would expect to be taken further along the purchase process, having already indicated that I want to sign up. Instead, I’m forced to hunt around for a link to get to the next step in the process.

After finally finding and pressing the subscribe button on this page, you then need to register for a Sky Player account. After this, you then need to press yet another call to action to subscribe, then you finally see some subscription options.

At this point, if you have come for the Ashes offer, let’s hope you have remembered the discount code (Ashes09), otherwise you will have to go back to the homepage to find it.

Why not just provide this as an option on the subscription page, rather take the chance that customers might not have noticed the code?

The Sky Player has been heavily promoted during its average coverage so far, and perhaps more people than expected decided to subscribe as a result, because the process was unbelievably slow, and it timed out on me every time I tried to get to the payment screen:

Sky should also ensure it has the capacity to handle a little extra traffic, especially when it is promotong the offer on TV and elsewhere, as slow loading pages like this are guaranteed to put customers off. They may also wonder about the quality of the live coverage if the site is so slow. After trying for ten minutes, I gave up on the idea, and I probably wasn’t the only one.

Once customers select to sign up for the offer, they have expressed an intention to buy, but Sky.com is making them work far too hard to actually complete the purchase, which should be a simple process after hitting the sign up button.

The whole subscription process on Sky.com, from showing visitors the
Ashes special offer, to selecting the subscription and actually
accessing the payment screen, needs to be made more usable for visitors, otherwise Sky risks losing a lot of potential customers.