NOW TV Review: Cost-Effective On Demand TV
About NOW TV
NOW TV is a UK provider owned by Sky TV offering on demand TV programmes, movies, sport and box sets, and first launched in 2012.
NOW TV can be accessed from a number of devices: TV, smartphone, tablet, game console and computer. Content is streamed via a Roku TV box that connects via a HDMI plug. The NOW TV box requires a wifi connection.
Compared to subscription services, NOW TV is a pay-as-you-go box, which means that you can cancel and reconnect any time you like.
NOW TV was launched in response to the “growing appetite for greater flexibility in how people watch TV” at a time when 13 million UK households still weren't paying for subscription TV services, according to Sky.
A similar service is available in Germany and Italy with the Sky Online TV Box.
NOW TV started by offering a movies streaming service, adding sport and entertainment at a later stage.
NOW TV Navigation
NOW TV Channels
You can currently view three categories with NOW TV:
The basic service includes a selection of UK channels including BBC iPlayer, 4 OD (Channel 4), ITV on demand and Sky News. YouTube was added in 2014; from 2014 NOW TV can be accessed from Google Chromcast and from 2015 NOW TV is also available on Apple TV.
If you have a TV licence you can watch programmes live, otherwise the standard service offers a variety of programmes that had been aired previously.
NOW TV comes with the following on demand channels:
ITV On Demand
Sky Sports News HQ
The entertainment month pass includes the following channels:
UPDATE: in 2016 NOW TV added National Geographic Wild.
Popular Programmes on NOW TV
NOW TV Packages
You can choose to buy the NOW TV box on its own and then decide to try one of the packages (entertainment, sport, movies) with one of NOW TV's free trials. After the free trial expires you will be charged for the service, so if you no longer require it you need to cancel the subscription.
On the NOW TV website you will also find different packages, for example you can get the TV box together with a 2 month movie pass, a 3 month entertainment pass or a 2 day sports pass at a reduced price.
NOW TV Popular Boxsets
NOW TV Channel Store
When you click on the NOW TV button you can add more internet channels for free. The most popular channels available to download are:
- Fox News
- WSJ Video
- TBN Networks
- Happy Kids 2
- RedBull TV
- FS TV
- EU Live
My TV Watchlist
Not all channels will allow you to add programmes to watch later, however if you go to the NOW TV button and browse through the channels or through the programmes, you can click on an individual programme and select “Add to My TV” to create your watchlist.
To retrieve your watchlist, go to the NOW TV button and select My TV then watchlist. Be aware that some programmes might be taken offline after a while.
My Experience Using NOW TV
I bought a NOW TV box package with a 3 month entertainment pass. Connecting the NOW TV box to my TV was very straightforward. You simply plug the TV box into the HDMI socket, type your NOW TV username and password and insert your wifi password.
Not having owned a Sky subscription before I can't comment whether the choice of channels is too limited. There are enough channels to entertain you and, if you ever bore of watching box sets, you can always purchase a movie pass and stream films on your TV.
If you are a fan of TV series like Game of Thrones or Mad Men you are in for a treat; however, some series take a while to become available, or you can only watch one series (at the time of writing only series 1 of Game of Thrones was online; however, when season 6 came out, not only NOW TV customers got a preview of episode 1 before it aired on TV, but they could also access all the previous series), or others get taken offline (check the “Leaving soon” section to make sure your favourite series is not disappearing).
Personally, what I find really positive about NOW TV is that you are no longer a passive viewer, keeping the TV in the background while mindlessly doing something else. Because you are choosing what you view, you become more engaged with the content.
I would prefer to have more channels but I reckon more will be added in the future. As a former Freeview customer, I was used to watching Dave or 4 Music, for example, which are not currently available on NOW TV (then again, Dave has a lot of re-runs like Top Gear and QI which make the majority of their content).
Pros and Cons of NOW TV
The price and the convenience of a pay-as-you-go model are very attractive, compared to paying a monthly subscription and being tied to a contract.
With on demand services, the main downside is that some programmes are only available for a limited time.
The box is very small so you don't need extra space for it.
The selection of movies and boxsets available can be quite limited.
4 devices can access NOW TV in the same household.
Check that you don't go over your broadband download limits or you will be charged extra by your broadband provider.
The remote is very easy to use and navigation is fairly straightforward.
Some channels are better categorised than others, ie, they have better navigation while some have clumsy navigation.
If you want to watch TV and save money on the TV licence fee, now TV is cost-effective, particularly if you want to cancel the service when you go on holiday and reactivate it when you get back.
NOW TV is a cost-effective way to watch TV without a contract but you must be aware of its limitations in terms of what content is available.