Want your fix of top TV channels without a lengthy contract or a satellite dish on your roof? Then Now TV might offer the ideal solution for you.
Sky’s add-on TV service offers a choice of three packages – sports, entertainment and movies – for a contract-free, dish-free monthly fee. You’ll just need a Now TV box and fast wireless broadband connection with a large download allowance to fully enjoy all Now TV has to offer. Sound good? Let’s find out more in our in-depth review.
What you get…
Before Now TV, telly fans wanting premium programming like Sky Sports, Sky Movies and popular entertainment channels like Sky Atlantic were faced with the sole option of signing up to a Pay TV service on long-term contract up to 18 months.
Now TV brings an alternative solution to access these channels and many more on a monthly pay-as-you-go basis instead. Initially, it made Sky Sports and Sky Movies available on a contract-free basis, and recently added an entertainment option to the line-up as well.
Entertainment, Sports and Movies Passes
Viewers can choose between three packages, or sign up for the lot. The one month longEntertainment Pass includes 10 channels: Sky 1; Sky Living; Sky Atlantic; Sky Artist 1; Fox; Comedy Central; Gold; Discovey Channel, MTV and the Disney Channel. It also includes access to on-demand content and TV box sets.
The Sports Pass gives access to all six Sky Sports channels – but only for 24 hours of viewing time – while the Movie Pass makes up to 800 movies available to you for a month – with four new releases added every week. At the time of writing, the line-up featured movies like The Guilt Trip, Zero Dark Thirty, The Life of Pi, Mama, This is 40 and Arthur Christmas.
You’ll need to open an account and buy a Now TV box, which is a palm-sized device that wirelessly connects to your broadband and hooks up to your TV with a supplied HDMI cable. Using your internet connection, it allows you to stream a wide range of popular channels and enjoy catch up TV.
You can also use the Now TV box to download apps and basically turn any regular TV into a smart TV, through which you can access the likes of Facebook, Spotify and the BBC iPlayer.
You could in theory sign up for the monthly Entertainment and Movies Pass alongside the 24 hour Sports Pass – but the combined monthly cost would make it worthwhile to compare other subscription-based TV packages. You’d inevitably be able to get the same range of channels for less.
TV on a rolling contract
The key draw of Now TV is that there is no long-term contract. When you buy a Movies or Entertainment Pass, it renews each month on a rolling contract until you cancel, which can be done at any time without penalty. You pay on the day you sign up, and on the same day each month until cancellation. If you change your mind and want to go back to Now TV, it’s easy to re-activate your account at a later date. The Sports Pass differs by only lasting for 24 hours before expiring.
If a monthly commitment is a little long for you, the Sky Sports Day Pass gives you access to live streamed Sky Sports channels for exactly that – a 24 hour period, which then expires rather than renews. Each time you log into the service, you’ll be notified of the time remaining on your pass. If you’re watching sports content, you’ll have the option to purchase and activate a new pass.
As with the monthly passes, you’ll pay on the day you sign up for a Sky Sports Day Pass and have the option to start your access straight away or at a later date.
You’ll also have to sign in with either a Now TV account or an existing Sky ID to order any available Passes or make changes to your account.
The Now TV box cost £9.99 to buy outright (including postage and packaging) and there’s no sign-up fee.
The Entertainment Pass costs £4.99 per month, which is an introductory price ending on 31st March 2014.
The Movie Pass is £8.99 per month and available on a 30 day free trial, which automatically renews at the full price unless cancelled.
The Sports Pass is considerably higher at £9.99 per 24 hours of viewing. While this is very pricey if you want a regular sports fix, it’s not a bad deal if you just want to catch the occasional important event.
What do I need for Now TV?
In addition to a Now TV box, account and a TV or other compatible device to view it on, you’ll need broadband or a 3G mobile network to stream content from Now TV.
Since steaming content uses a lot of data, Sky recommends a large broadband data allowance (ideally unlimited) and fast connection (minimum 2.5Mbps). If you’re using a 3G mobile network, you’ll need a connection speed of at least 180Kbps (or higher – depending on what you want to watch and the device you’re using).
What devices can I watch Now TV on?
Now TV is compatible with the following devices: the Playstation 3, Roku streaming console, PC and Mac, smartphones using the Android operating system, the iPhone, iPad, Xbox 360 console and YouView.
Users can register up to four compatible devices, and watch on two at the same time.
Are there any omissions?
A key caveat is that certain services and content are not accessible on all devices due to rights restrictions. Noticeable omissions are that some live channels are unavailable on YouView, and the Entertainment Pass is currently unavailable on Android, iPhone/iPad and Playstation 3 – although this may change soon. Now TV publishes a daily list of shows that are unavailable on live channels here.
Sky is also restricting some competing services from the line-up, so you won’t be able to use the Now TV box to access Netflix or Lovefilm for example.
Now TV is cheapest way to upgrade your TV to make it ‘smart’ and a great alternative for TV lovers who want some premium content without the commitment of a lengthy contract or satellite dish. The addition of the new monthly Entertainment Pass will be a particular draw for fans of shows exclusive to Sky Atlantic such as Game of Thrones, The Following and Mad Men, who previously had to sign up to a long-term subscription with Sky TV to get their fix. Now TV will be the only place to see all the new episodes on pay-as-you-go basis.
However, it remains an expensive option for sports lovers who get a much better deal by signing up to subscription service for daily access to Sky Sports or BT Sport.