Sky Now TV will launch before YouViewSky is on track to publicly launch Now TV by the summer, before YouView formally launches.

Figures for Sky’s first quarter 2012 yesterday also included mention that “NOW TV [is] on track for launch in first half of calendar 2012, widening the availability of Sky content on broadband-connected devices.”

Though a YouView launch date hasn’t been officially announced, an article over on Broadcastnow (subscription only) quotes a Humax spokesperson saying YouView trials in “hundreds of thousands of homes,” will kick off over the next couple of weeks.

Technically, this means that YouView will launch before Now TV, but on a closed trial-only basis. Broadcastnow’s Kate Bulkley goes on to predict that “the Olympics medals will have been handed out before YouView achieves anything resembling scale,” and  “waiting for YouView is a bit like waiting for Godot.”

More optimistically, the article points to a Christmas launch for the on-demand TV service.

Earlier this week a report surfaced that YouView chairman and habitual finger pointer Sir Alan Sugar wasn’t too happy with the service at present, pouring cold water on the predicted pre-Olympics launch for YouView.

Now TV vs YouView

Sky’s Now TV is being marketed at non-Sky subscribers who, perhaps, would like to watch Game of Thrones on-demand but weren’t up for subscribing to the whole Sky kaboodle.

"Now TV will be available on a wide range of devices and offer instant access to a range of high quality Sky content, with no install and no contract,” said Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch. “Starting with movies, it will soon expand to offer sport and entertainment as well. And customers will be able to pay monthly or rent a movie on a simple, pay as you go basis.”

So Now TV will be a web portal, accessed through your laptop, PC and, presumably, your iOS and Android devices. By contrast, YouView which will require purchase of a separate set-top box.

YouView is similar to BT Vision in that it provides access to digital terrestrial TV and libraries of on-demand paid content. LoveFilm, Blinkbox, Film 4oD, Guardian News & Media and BSkyB are among the big players who’ve signed up to provide paid content for YouView.

Another trick up the YouView sleeve is that you’ll be able to back-catch-up on programmes, i.e. record programmes that have already broadcast. Once the ace in YouView’s hand, this is a feature we’ve seen being added to other Freeview boxes such as the EchoStar Ultra Slim Box announced earlier today.