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Comcast to open retail stores in UK for Sky satellite

A title card for Sky satellite television’s flagship general entertainment channel Sky One. (Image: Sky/Comcast, Graphic: The Desk)

Comcast says it will open retail stores for its Sky satellite television service in the United Kingdom, marking the first time the service will be offered through its own brick-and-mortar locations.

The announcement was made in a press release on Wednesday.

The stores, which will be called Sky Shops, “are a departure from traditional shops and, in the long-term, will offer a new social hub for shoppers,” the company said in a statement.

Sky’s satellite service has traditionally been sold to customers through third-party shops that specialize in electronics as well as over the phone and via Internet sales. Those partnerships are expected to continue for a while longer while Comcast gets its first series of Sky Shops off the ground, according to an executive who spoke with The Desk on background.

Comcast says its first Sky Shop will open in Liverpool later this month. Several other stores are slated to open elsewhere in the United Kingdom next year.

The company is hoping to secure long-term leases at a discounted rate due to vacancies created by small businesses that folded during the coronavirus health pandemic.  A research firm said around 6,000 stores and other small  businesses have closed in the United Kingdom since the start of the health crisis there.

Comcast is hoping to replicate the success of its domestic retail stores. The company operates hundreds of retail locations in the United States that offer cable television, cable phone, broadband Internet and third-party wireless phone service under the Xfinity brand.

The Sky Stores will offer similar services to customers. On top of its traditional satellite TV packages, the Sky Stores will pitch customers on Sky’s streaming TV service Now TV and hookups for broadband Internet and wireless phone service.

The Sky Stores will also encourage customers to sign up for supplemental streaming services, including Disney Plus on satellite platform Sky Q and Comcast’s Peacock when it launches in the United Kingdom, an executive said.

Comcast acquired Sky satellite in the United Kingdom and two other countries for $39 billion in 2018.