With Now Boost, viewers can enjoy much more content at 1080p – it's still far off the 4K HDR of its rivals, though
- Live TV with Entertainment Pass
- Unrivalled movie offering via Cinema Pass
- Flexible package choice – if you don't want certain content, you don't pay for it
- Sports Pass can be pricey
- Only 720p with standard packages
Now TV has rebranded to ‘Now’
Now TV has had a rebranding and is now formally known simply as ‘Now’. What’s more, what were its Now TV television and broadband passes will now be called Now memberships, but don’t worry— all prices and packages are remaining exactly the same!
The rebranding also stretches to the company’s new logo (as seen above).
Our original review continues below.
Want to watch popular Sky shows such as Westworld or Game of Thrones, but don’t want to buy Sky just to watch the occasional series? Now TV is the answer. It’s a pay-as-you-go version of Sky’s broadcasting service sliced up into neat and tasty packages you can combine to create your perfect on-demand streaming service.
Now TV is designed to be Sky’s answer to Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video services but, instead of a replacement, it acts as a rather excellent supplement to your streaming diet. It’s split into sections: the Entertainment package covers Sky TV shows; the Kids package gives you children’s shows; the Cinema package supplies you with a continuous diet of all the latest movies, while the Sports package provides access to Sky’s popular sports content and mirrors what can be found on Sky’s own subscription broadcast service.
This distinct way of sectioning up content means you can have a Netflix account and Amazon Prime Video account for shows, but use a Now TV Cinema Pass to gain access to some of the latest and greatest films. You could use the Entertainment Pass for a month or two to binge-watch a series or take out a Sports Pass to watch a specific game or event.
Now TV review: Price and competition
Now TV’s biggest competitors are Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. As previously stated, they’re something different to Now TV.
You can get into the depths of Netflix versus Prime Video versus Now TV in our comparison piece but, on the surface of it, it’s worth remembering that Now TV currently only operates at 720p or, for those with Boost, 1080p. If you’ve got a 4K UHD TV, those resolutions will look soft and blurry when compared to content from rival services. Both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix run at up to 4K HDR, plus Dolby Vision and, in the case of Prime Video, 4K is included in the standard price.
Prices for Now TV start at £3.99 per month for a Kids Pass and rise to £7.99 per month for Entertainment Pass purchases and £11.99 per month for a Sky Cinema Pass. Sky Sports passes cost £8.99 for a day’s viewing, £14.99 for a week or £33.99 for a month-long pass.
Now TV review: Now TV Boost upgrade
For an extra £3 a month, viewers can upgrade to Now TV Boost, which grants access to FHD streaming for all Sky Sports channels and certain TV shows and movies, plus 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. All of the standard Now TV passes discussed below will be enhanced by Now TV Boost, some more than others, depending on how much FHD content is on offer. Boost also lets viewers stream from up to three devices simultaneously, one more than is possible with a standard subscription.
It’s worth pointing out that, at present, Now TV Boost can only be accessed through certain platforms: a Now TV Smart Stick, any Now TV Box (except the white model), a Roku Express or Roku Streaming Stick, an LG Web OS TV, a PS4 or a supported Samsung TV.
Now TV review: What you get in each pass
Now TV: Entertainment Pass
As Sky’s streaming competitor to Netflix, the Entertainment Pass selection needs to be up to scratch. Admittedly things start off on the back foot as Now TV has nowhere near the same size library as Netflix or Prime Video. However, the advantage Now TV has is that provides access to programmes that have been aired on broadcast TV and that includes UK exclusive access to HBO hit shows.
Now TV is also divided up differently to both Netflix and Prime Video as it provides the same open-ended box set-style viewing, but also offers a live TV catch-up option. For instance, you can (at the time of review) watch all of Game of Thrones, Westworld, True Detective, The Sopranos and How I Met Your Mother, to name just a few. It all depends on those shows being on the platform at the right time, however, as series will only stay for fixed periods of time; annoying if you’re halfway through The Wire, for example.
Live TV is also included with the Entertainment Pass and lets you watch a smattering of Sky channels live – such as Sky One, Sky Atlantic and Sky Arts, as well as Sky-only channels such as Challenge and Viceland.
Now TV: Cinema Pass
Previously known as the Sky Movies Pass, the Now TV Cinema Pass is a clear winner against the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Sky’s strong relationship with the six major Hollywood studios means that many films come to Now TV Cinema service within six months of them appearing on Blu-ray or DVD. In some cases, films will appear on the service at around the same time or even before they hit store shelves.
Films are replaced regularly on Now TV Cinema, but you’ll still get a good few months of them on the service before they move off. Sky also tends to bring some films back around seasonal periods, ensuring you won’t be short of things to watch over the Christmas or holidays or bank holiday weekends.
Now TV: Sky Sports Pass
As the most contentiously priced of the three major passes available on Now TV, the Sky Sports Pass is essentially the only way to view Sky Sports content legally without a Sky TV subscription. It isn’t cheap, though, at £9 for a day pass, rising to £34 for a month, which is more expensive than adding it to a regular Sky TV deal.
Now TV’s deals are not designed for your diehard sports fanatic, though. Instead, they’re for people who might want to watch an F1 race or cricket test match without having to cough up the full monthly cost, or whose football team might not feature regularly enough in Sky’s live match coverage to justify splurging out on the full satellite TV package.
When you think of it that way, the prices are easier to swallow. Currently, the full Sky Sports bundle starts at £20 per month on top of your regular £20 Sky TV subscription, totalling £40 per month. The Now TV bundle, however, isn’t that bad value at all. At £34 for a month of Sky Sports and with no long-term contractual obligation to tie you in for 18 months, it’s a nice way to dabble in the sports you enjoy without being locked in.
There are some issues here, though. The first is that it’s only streamed in 720p or, if you’ve got the Boost upgrade, 1080p. Also, remember that you can’t record live events as you can with a Sky Q subscription and can only pause for up to 30 minutes.
Now TV review: Where can you watch Now TV?
Now TV is certainly a great way to watch content online, but it’s no good if you haven’t got a way to actually watch the damn thing. Thankfully, there’s a tonne of platforms available that support Now TV streaming.
If you’re looking for a dedicated device option, you have the Now TV Smart Box, the Now TV Box and the Now TV Smart Stick. You can also watch it via Apple TV, Roku and Amazon’s streaming devices, YouView boxes and via Google Chromecast.
Most smart TVs also support Now TV, with LG and Samsung TVs both supporting it as standard and any some Android-based TVs also being able to run the Now TV app. Pretty much every Android phone and tablet under the sun can run Now TV too. Any iPhone newer than the 4S, any second-generation iPad or newer and any fourth-gen iPod Touch can also run it. You’ll also find it on PS4 and Xbox One consoles.
Unfortunately, Now TV isn’t available on Chromebooks or the Nintendo Wii U and Switch.
Now TV review: Verdict
Whether you receive Now TV through Sky’s Now TV Smart Box, its Smart Stick or one of the many other streaming devices that support the service, it has to be applauded for its flexibility. It has some great content at very reasonable prices but whether that content is for you depends entirely on how you prefer to watch your TV and movies. If you like the idea of dipping in and out to watch a specific show or one-off sports event, the lack of a contract is a great attraction.
The Entertainment package is keenly priced and, while Sky retains a stranglehold on new HBO content in the UK, it will continue to be a tempting option for those who want to watch series such as Game of Thrones but not any of Sky’s other content.
The constant turnover of content from its movie channels is also a huge boon as there’s always plenty of new things to watch. The Sky Sports Pass has pricing options to suit everyone, too. If you’ve always wanted Sky Sports but couldn’t justify the monthly cost, this is for you.
Now TV offers something unique, giving you a greater degree of control than any other services. And for anyone who wants access to Sky’s exclusive content without the concrete boots of an 18-month contract, it’s perfect. The one big problem is that everything you watch will be streamed in 720p unless you fork out for the 1080p Boost add-on. With its rivals streaming in 4K HDR and Dolby Vision, Now TV is trailing behind.