Sky’s amazing content library makes every major streaming network envious. As a viewer, if you want to experience Sky’s entire library of content but can’t afford its satellite service then NOW TV is the streaming service you really need. Sure, it’s nowhere near as complete as Sky’s full offering, but still, it does have enough content to compete with every major streaming network in the world.
I’m fascinated with NOW TV’s viewing passes. Similar to Hotstar’s VIP and Premium membership, NOW TV has four different passes. Through these passes, you can consume the content you want. For instance, if I just want to watch Premier League or Cricket, I can choose the Sports Pass which specifically caters to needs.
NOW TV – A gateway to Sky Network
NOW TV subscription provides access to Sky’s exclusive content – sports and film channels apart from other benefits. Each NOW TV pass has the latest content to help you stay abreast of what’s trending around the world. Thus, it’s not just sports alone but entertainment content which gives it an edge over its rivals.
NOW TV – a subscription-based internet television (IPTV) and Video-On-Demand (VOD) service provider is a division of Sky Limited operating in the UK, Ireland, and Italy. It was first announced in February 2012 with Sky Cinema as the crucial part of its subscription. Within two years, additional entertainment channels were added along with sports channels and children’s television channels. In 2018, Hayu VOD was added to the network as well.
Subtle and easy on the eye is the best way to describe its user interface. Navigating across the website is quick and intuitive. Sure, I experienced usability caveats here and there but the overall look and feel of the website are appealing. The space blue/white color combination is great with colorful movie pass being the first colorful elements that capture your attention. Each pass has a different color which compliments the overall look of the website.
– Entertainment – Yellow
– Cinema – Purple
– Sports – Blue
– Kids – Red
– Hayu – Pink
Underneath the passes is a banner that promotes a yearly pass. For instance, when I checked the last time, it was pushing Avengers Endgame as part of Sky Cinema and Game of Thrones as the entertainment banner. Similar to those banners, there is a sports banner which has Premier League players Sadio Mane and John Stones (Liverpool vs Man City) to attract users towards the sports pass. Below these banners are two small covers which are for Kids channels and Hayu. (primarily known for shows such as Keeping up with the Kardashians).
In my opinion, its content is its biggest strength. You don’t have to subscribe to the whole package, instead, you can choose from a tailor-made package. For the content library, let’s understand what each of these passes has to offer individually.
If you subscribe to entertainment pass, you can get access to Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Comedy Central, Gold, Sky Arts, Fox, ITV Encore, MTV, Nat Geo Wild, Discovery, ITV, Challenge, Viceland, Pick and ABC Studios. Though these are only a third of the channels that you get with a full Sky TV subscription, there’s no denying that it does provide the best Sky channels with my favorite being the Sky Atlantic. It’s not just about these channels but the additional on-demand content that you get with it. With this pass, you can access the latest content which is available for a month. These include shows such as Walking Dead and The Game of Thrones.
Generally, a Cinema pass would be a part of Entertainment, but not in this case. With NOW TV’s Cinema pass, you get access to over 1000+ movies on demand. These movies range from cult classics to new releases. Each movie is classified and segregated as per genre ranging from science to fiction, horror to action and comedy to romance. There’s a new premiere every day which has kept me hooked to this pass thus far. In addition, I get access to 10 Sky Cinema channels which include Megahits, Disney and Premiere to name a few.
If you want to buy the Kids Pass, you can access up to six children’s channels – Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cartoonito, Nick Jr, Nickelodeon, and Nicktoons. You can also access on-demand and catch-up content. I love the picture-based interface which allows your kid to choose whatever they want without badgering you every time. The content library is vast with over a thousand episodes and is meant for kids of all ages. You also get parental control to choose what your kids watch and what they don’t. The only thing that left me a little sour in this pass was the lack of Disney channels.
Sky Sports Pass
I’m a huge Premier League fan. Thus, this was the first pass that caught my attention. Though the options aren’t much as you just get access to only the 10 major channels, you can still watch a variety of sports such as Football, Golf, Cricket, Horse racing and Formula 1. Users can also enjoy Sky Sports Action content which covers Rugby League, NFL, Boxing, Darts, Athletics, Tennis and more. Apart from these, there’s access to Sky Sports News so you can keep up with the transfer news.
The Hayu Pass is different from all those passes above. This pass allows you to stream reality shows including programs such as ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ Though there are no live channels, you can access over 5000+ episodes on demand.
I didn’t find any compatibility issues with NOW TV. The number of supporting platforms is growing. As of now, you can access NOW TV via gaming consoles such as Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4 along with devices such as Roku, Smart VS, PC or MAC. If you want to enjoy streaming on mobile, you can do so with apps on Android and iOS.
If you don’t want to stream and would like to have a dedicated set-top box, you can get that as well. Once you choose from the package, you can ask for a set-up box and can get an HDMI cable bundle as well. Though the NOW TV box is a combination of Sky network and third-party streaming content, it also provides NOW TV Smart box which has a built-in Freeview tuner which does a great job.
NOW TV Smart Box – A major attraction
I love the NOW TV Smart Box because it brings HD capabilities. While the general passes only have a 720p resolution, with Smart Box, you can access up to 12 HD channels. It also allows you to pause and rewind live TV so you don’t miss a beat. There are some shortcomings such as not being able to see the next program or browse further. These are small interface issues that can be fixed when the next update rolls out.
The Smart Box allows you to browse your favorite films using your voice. You can watch NOW TV content using the Smart Box via your pass and can also access apps such as All 4, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, UKTV Play, MY5, and Netflix.
Smart Stick – Turning an ordinary television into a Smart TV
Smart Stick is cheaper than the Smart Box and has amazing capabilities. It comes with HD viewing experience and voice search. To use the smart stick, you must first sign-in to your NOW TV account and then plug the stick in the HDMI port and you’re good to go.
Plans & Pricing
As opposed to major streaming networks offering a 30-day trial, NOW TV just offers a 7-day free trial. One thing you must remember is that it will automatically migrate to a monthly-fee, so if you don’t want it, you must cancel it before the trial period ends. Once the 7-day trial is up then you’d be asked to choose a pass. Prices of the passes are as follows:
– Entertainment Pass – £7.99/mo
– Sky Cinema Pass – £9.99/mo
– Sports Pass – £7.99/day, £12.99/week, £33.99/mo
– Kids Pass – £3.99/mo
These passes no doubt are expensive, however, if you opt for multi-month deals, you can get them for an affordable price. I generally prefer splitting the service as per my wish. No doubt, it’s frustrating at times, but I’d rather take this than paying a whole lot more for content I don’t watch.
Suggestions I have for NOW TV
While the TV experience doesn’t seem to have hindrance, the same cannot be said for in-app experience. There are performance niggles causing streaming issues on Android which makes the app crash sometimes. Though it has been improved since the previous update, I still feel there’s much room for improvement.
NOW TV is worth it if you know the content you want to consume. It’s a compelling alternative to the buffet service offered by Amazon and Netflix. And while that approach can rub the users the wrong way, it still makes more sense than paying for content you don’t watch.