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Now TV review: Premium Sky content for non-premium prices

The Good

  • The best of Sky TV, no dish required
  • Flexible price structure
  • Wide range of supported devices

The Bad

  • No Full HD content, let alone 4K
  • No subtitles or AD tracks
3.5

Now TV gives you the best bits of Sky TV, streamed to your TV, phone or tablet over an Internet connection instead of a satellite link. 

This includes Sky entertainment channels like Sky 1, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic, all of the Sky Movies channels and all of the Sky Sports channels. 

Content-wise, this will give you shows like 24: Live Another Day, American Horror Story: Hotel, Grey’s Anatomy amongst others. Film-wise you can get the likes of EX_MACHINA, The Wedding Ringer, Jupiter Ascending with a Now TV Movies Pass. 

In terms of live sports streams, there’s live Premier League football matches including Arsenal vs Manchester City on December 21 along with live League Cup football games, European and PGA Tour golf, WWE wrestling and more. 

How much is Now TV? 

Now TV subscription prices vary based on the type of content you want. It’s very much aimed at folks who don’t want a pricey full pay TV subscription with hundreds of channels and a big old set-top box but do fancy getting some of that nice exclusive Sky TV content. 

Here’s how the prices break down:

  24 Hour Pass Weekly Pass Monthly Pass
Entertainment n/a n/a £6.99
Movies n/a n/a £9.99
Sports £6.99 £10.88 £31.99

You’ll notice that there’s no option to take Entertainment and Movies on a daily or weekly basis yet; given the non-live, repeatable nature of that content versus, say, live Premier League football, there probably won’t be.  

Sky’s reserving those pay-per-view style daily passes and weekly tickets purely for sporting fans, at least for the time being. 

Fans of shows like Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful and Alan Partridge’s Mid Morning Matters are perhaps better served by a monthly pass than not, as this gives you the chance to rewatch older episodes and dip in and out of box sets. 

Although we think that movie fans might want to sign up week, whenever Sky runs things like the Star Wars and Harry Potter marathons it’s been doing of late, weekly tickets for Movies aren’t currently on the cards. 

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How can I watch Now TV? 

Now TV is available to watch through most web browsers, with the notable exception of Chrome. This is due to the Now TV web player requiring Microsoft Silverlight to run. As of April this year, Google ceased supporting SIlverlight. It’s unclear when/if Now TV will ditch Silverlight in favour of HTML5. 

There’s also Now TV apps for iOS and Android, both of which work with Chromecast and a Now TV app for Apple TV. 

You can also get Now TV on EE TV set-top boxes, Roku mini streamers (LT, XS, Roku 3) and Now TV’s own Now TV Boxes, both of which are essentially re-skinned Roku boxes. 

Most models of LG smart TVs and connected Blu-ray players can also download Now TV apps from their respective app stores, if the service isn’t pre-installed on the home page.  

Console-wise, there’s Now TV apps available for Xbox 360 and Xbox One as well as the PlayStation 3 and 4. 

Now TV is also available on YouView boxes, albeit in a limited capacity. Right now, you can only watch certain films with a Movies Pass on YouView devices. Due to rights restrictions, you’re limited to watching movies that are also available on a live TV channel. You can’t currently watch Now TV Entertainment or Sports content on YouView. Put simply, there isn’t a whole lot of point on getting Now TV on a YouView box. 

If you’re a YouView customer and you want access to the full breadth of Now TV’s content library, you’re better off spending £15 on a Now TV Box. 

Similarly, knotty rights issues mean you currently can’t use weekly or monthly Sports passes on Apple TVs either

Now TV review

How many devices can I watch Now TV on? 

One Now TV account means you can watch content on up to four devices and watch on up to two devices at the same time. This gives you the freedom to watch shows on multiple devices in separate rooms at home or on phones and tablets when you’re out and about. 

You can de and re-register at least one device from the first of each calendar month once you’ve hit that four devices upper ceiling limit. 

Is Now TV content available in HD? 

Related: What is HD? The difference between 720p, 1080i and 1080pEven though many of the Now TV-compatible devices are capable of handling 1080p Full HD streams, the best quality you’ll be able to get Now TV content in is 720p HD. 

All live sports content will be shown in up to 720p HD, regardless of the device or platform you’re streaming it on. 

Content accessed with an Entertainment or Movies Pass will typically be shown in standard definition, unless you’re watching on an Apple TV, in which case it’ll be 720p HD. 

All Now TV on demand content is now available in 720p HD. 

The minimum amount of bandwidth required for SD content is 2Mbps, while for the high definition streams you’ll need at least 5Mbps spare. 

Now TV review

How much content does Now TV have? 

The amount of content available on Now TV varies depending on what sporting season it is, what movies are available and what’s currently broadcast on Sky TV. 

At the time of writing, there’s 746 TV shows and 1086 films available to watch with a Now TV Entertainment or Movies Pass. 

Sports passes currently feature a number of live streams for sporting events including Premier League, League Cup, La Liga and Eredivisie football, European Tour golf, GP2 races, WWE Smackdown and highlights from the Australia vs New Zealand 3rd Test. There’s even live greyhound racing, if you’re in to that. On top of this, you can also stream round the clock sports news coverage from Sky Sports New HQ. 

Now TV reviewHow long does content stick around on Now TV for? 

Related: How to get Sky Sports and Sky MoviesThis depends entirely on the deals Sky’s been able to strike with a show or movie’s rights holders. Therefore it tends to vary on a programme-to-programme basis. 

In the case of shows like South Park, episodes from the current 19th series are available up to 21 days after they’re first broadcast on Comedy Central on Saturdays. You can however stream every episode of the 13-15th series whenever; there’s no time limit available for these episodes yet. 

By contrast, episodes of the current season of The Flash, currently broadcast on Sky 1 on Tuesdays, are available to watch on catch-up 30 days after. 

During the run up to a new season of Game of Thrones, Now TV tends to make all of the previous seasons available on demand, to whet fans’ appetite for the next season. Right now though, there’s just episodes from the first season available. 

With regards to movies, Now TV adds up to 16 new premieres every month and refreshes its library on a monthly basis. 

Sports highlights and news bulletins are refreshed at an even faster rate. As the emphasis here is on live content, the catch-up content that you’ll find in the Highlights section doesn’t stick around for long; you’re better off checking the various Sky Sports channels on the 7 Day Guide for highlights and round up programmes. 

You should note that it’s not always possible to tell when a certain piece of content will be available on demand from looking at the Now TV interface alone, although you do tend to get fair amount of warning when something’s departing. 

How accessible is Now TV’s content?

Right now, there’s no support for subtitles on Now TV. Sky has said that it’ll have fixed this the summer of 2016. While that’s not great for customers who rely on subtitles right now, it’s good to know that there is a fix in the pipeline. 

Similarly, we know that Now TV content has featured in an industry-wide trial of AD (audio description) tracks organised by the RNIB. Again, there’s no ETA for when AD might be a standard feature of Now TV, but we do know that there’s something in the works. 

Now TV review

How does Now TV compare to Netflix, Amazon, Blinkbox and others? 

One of the aces up Now TV’s sleeve is that it’s chock full of premium Sky TV content. This gives it a real edge over the likes of Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video services, particularly if you’re keen on watching the latest movies. 

Sky’s long-standing content partnerships with the likes of Warner Bros., Disney, Viacom and others mean that it’s well placed to get the best stuff first. Sky’s deal with Disney is significant for Star Wars fans because it means that once Episode VII: The Force Awakens finishes its theatrical run, it’ll be around nine months before it materialises on Now TV. The full details of this ‘multi-year’ deal are not apparent, but we’d be surprised if this hasn’t been signed to expressly cover the years in which Episodes VIII and IX are due to land. 

While big name Hollywood titles will eventually make their way down the food chain to other streaming services, it’s often the case that Now TV will have been there first. 

The ability to stream live sports, particularly Premier League games, is great news for sports fans. Unlike nearest rival BT Sport, which requires you to sign up for either BT Broadband or a BT Mobile SIM, Now TV doesn’t care who you get your mobile phone or Internet services from. 

That said, if you’re after Now TV purely for US shows like True Detective and Game of Thrones, you may already be aware of the fact that the day after HBO shows have finished their broadcast runs in the UK, they’re available to buy and keep from BlinkboxBT TV and TalkTalk TV. If you don’t mind being a few months behind the curve and want access to content on a permanent basis, then Blinkbox might be a better alternative. 

Now TV review

Now TV Verdict: Is it worth getting? 

Now TV is an ideal solution for people who can’t get or don’t want everything Sky TV has to offer – but want to pick and choose. It gives them access to a range of shows and movies that simply aren’t available on Netflix or anywhere else – or at least won’t be for a long time. 

As a live sports streaming service, there’s nothing else quite like it in the UK. BT Sport offers a similar range of coverage, but as we said, this behooves you to pick a BT-branded service in order to get it, whereas Now TV is ISP and network-agnostic. 

Price-wise, at £6.99/month for Entertainment and £9.99/month for Movies Passes, Now TV is expensive. Unlike Netflix and Amazon, there’s no 4K Ultra HD content at all. More to the point, there’s not even any 1080p Full HD content.  

We understand that making Full HD streams available for less money that you’d pay to get hold of that very same content with a Sky TV subscription would obviously undermine Sky’s business model somewhat. At the same time, this does make Now TV less desirable than its on demand rivals. 

That said, if you’re looking to do the majority of your TV watching on a phone or 7-inch tablet, we’d question the sense of wanting 1080p or 4K content on such devices in the first place.  

Ultimately, your choice with be ruled by how badly you want to watch stuff like Game of Thrones, the latest movies and live Premier League football. We think that if you really, really want this kind of stuff in HD you won’t mind shelling out extra for a full pay TV package, and if not, well then you’ve already made your decision. 

Specification

Size of content libraryOn avg. 750 TV shows and 1000 movies. 7 live sports channels.
Resolutions supported576p, 720p HD
Supported OS/platformsWindows XP-8, Mac OS X 10.6+, iOS, Android, Xbox 360-One, PlayStation 3-4, LG smart TV, Roku, Apple TV, YouView
SubtitlesNo
Audio DescriptionNo
Bandwidth requirements2.5Mbps (SD), 5Mbps (HD)
PriceFrom £6.99/month, £9.99/month and £6.99/day

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