I want my, I want my Now TV

Sky have been expanding their Now TV offering with a fantastic Entertainment Pass. The Now TV app is on demand and live programming from Sky without having to sign up to a huge contract, or get dish-shaped things installed on the side of your house. They’ve got sports and movies, but it’s the entertainment package that has really caught my eye.

now-tv-boxFor £4.99 a month (introductory price, we’ll have to see what it goes up to later), you get access to some of Sky’s entertainment channels, with a mix of full series on demand, selected catch up shows, and as mentioned, live coverage. The price is good, for now, matching Netflix, and it’s a similar service with different content inside.

It’s tricky to know which shows are available in what format – I was particularly sold on the Ugly Betty catch up, with all four series of the show available to watch as and when. We discovered Stephen Merchant’s Hello Ladies, an excellent/cringeworthy show I’d never heard of before and is being released on a weekly basis as it airs on more traditional TV. There are some things I’d like to watch but have missed the start of, and the only episodes available on demand are a handful from the middle of the series. The live coverage can also be hit and miss, with things like the Simpsons not available. The Disney Channel plays live but has few on-demand offerings. The abc programmes are only on demand with no live channel.

Even with the slight confusion, however, such easy access to these channels is great. Sky 1 has always been a distant dream until now. The channels available are:

  • Sky 1
  • Sky Living
  • Sky Atlantic
  • Gold
  • Comedy Central
  • Fox
  • MTV
  • Sky Arts
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney Channel
  • abc studios

now-tv-open-screenAs you might imagine with Sky, the process for signing up is difficult. I tried to do it on the iPad with the app, where it just says you need to sign in. It doesn’t tell you how to get a sign in or link you anywhere you might find useful. I went to the site to log in, but the process doesn’t work via iOS and the Twitter support chaps said they recommend using a desktop.

There are a couple of issues with the app that make the TV/setup box experience that much better. Search is just ridiculous – where you would think finding a series would be useful, instead they list every single episode and not necessarily in order. I was looking for the first episode of the third series of Ugly Betty, and it was right at the bottom of a very long list.

now-tv-searchWhen I started watching the programme, I took two minutes out to switch to another app, and then when I returned, I’d been kicked out to the menu. I had to go through the whole search process again. It does remember where you are in a show, and does relay that information between devices, but it’s a pain. I think it’s something to do with their checking on how many devices you’re playing things on, and not sharing the content in too many directions. God forbid.

As always, it seems like Sky are really good at owning all the best content, but really not so good at distributing it. They’re making strides in the right direction though. The super-cheap set-top box is a snip at just a tenner, and that opens up the possibilities to a lot more people (although all they’ve really done is take a Roku box and take their nearest competitors Netflix off it).

8 thoughts on “I want my, I want my Now TV

  1. nowtv has the absolute worst device management system i’ve ever encountered. you’re allowed four devices and can change one per month. last count we had eight devices capable of playing sky content (and replace them frequently). restricting the usage just makes it less likely that we’ll subscribe.

    if we both upgrade our tablets the same month, one of us is locked out. hopeless.

  2. I currently don’t have a TV, but the media set up in my new house is something that I’m all confused about. I don’t like signing Direct Debits for subscription services and am more inclined to pay as you view type models for the odd ocassion I want to watch something.

    However, there doesn’t seem to be a killer device out there. Apple TV, Roku, Now TV or just a smart TV with good apps and a PVR?

    BT intrigues as my broadband supplier me as you can get ‘free’ access to BT Sport.

    I’m a bit down on the house project this week and the TV set up is the latest of my problems!

  3. However, there doesn’t seem to be a killer device out there. Apple TV, Roku, Now TV or just a smart TV with good apps and a PVR?

    I don’t think there is a killer device yet, everyone is still testing the waters and seeing how the business models pan out.

    The Apple TV is brilliant if you are invested in the Apple universe, but probably less useful if not. The Roku and Now TV are essentially the same thing, and have plenty of on demand stuff. My experience of Smart TVs is that they are not particularly inspiring, and I’m not totally convinced they’re being updated on a regular basis.

  4. The winner will be the one that best crosses international borders. If you allow someone in one country watch up to date shows from multiple other countries, you’ll grab so many people (obviously if they don’t charge too much).

  5. However, there doesn’t seem to be a killer device out there. Apple TV, Roku, Now TV or just a smart TV with good apps and a PVR?

    closest thing there is to a converged device in the uk is the youview box. they have investment from bbc, bt, sky and more so most of the content will eventually be available there. the downside is competitors like netflix will probably be blocked by sky. plus the box is big and the spinning hard drive is noisy.

    there’s no way of getting all the content, without buying multiple boxes. annoying.

  6. One of my friends has a youview box and rates it quite highly. I don’t watch a lot of TV so I think a PVR and catch up services might well suit my needs.

    I have at least 12 months to see how things develop.

  7. In 12 months time, things could be very different, hopefully there’ll be more on demand stuff available, more choice, but more consolidation as well. It’s not asking much, I don’t think 🙂

  8. hmmm predictions for 12 months of tv updates.

    bt sport are going to run out of channels to show all the content they are buying, so expect more channels on youview. except they could instead go for “watch this on our app”. which would mean you want an apple tv (so you can airplay from the mini screen to the big one).

    apple tv could of course support apps within a year, or bt sport might support chromecast by then.

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