Expect Sky and BT to launch new 4K boxes sooner rather than later

It's no secret that BT is after Sky's sports broadcasting crown -- it's already taken away Sky's access to Champions League coverage and will soon go toe-to-toe with its rival again to spend big on more live Premier League matches. While it isn't quite as dominant as its rival in terms of customers, Sky deems BT a credible enough threat that it will reportedly bring forward the launch of its new 4K set-top box to ensure it doesn't lose subscribers when those major European football broadcasts vanish.

That's according to The Telegraph, which says the broadcaster will debut a new internet-connected 4K set-top box in the Spring. It's meant to be capable of sharing streams to smartphones and tablets, allowing access to recorded programmes while a user in on the move -- similar to EE's new TV hardware.

Sky's new box could be the final incarnation of a project known internally as "Project Ethan." Reports of the project first popped up in April last year, which detailed new Sky hardware that can output 4K broadcasts and store recorded programmes in the cloud. It was meant to debut in 2016, but the rise of BT and increased competition from Virgin may have forced it to launch earlier than originally planned.

BT won't let Sky have it all its own way, however; the company is also said to be readying a new 4K-ready box, which could launch "within months." The Telegraph says BT will kick off trials of its new ultra high-definition streaming service in May, ensuring it's ready in time to broadcast its Champions League coverage in the autumn.

Regardless of their launch dates, 2015 is shaping up to be a big year for both companies. BT will return to the mobile industry following the completion of its £12.5 billion takeover of EE, while Sky has just announced plans to launch its own mobile service with the help of O2 (which could soon be sold to Three owner Hutchison Whampoa). It's likely that mobile service will form some part of their future TV offerings, but at the moment it's sport that is doing all the talking.