Update - 12 December: Now TV is currently offering a 'Winter Warmer' deal, specifically a month of the Kids TV, Sky Cinema or Entertainment passes for £11.99. This will give you a great taste of what the service offers, letting you pick which passes you'd want to continue with. Find out more here.
Now TV occupies an odd space in the streaming world. As an offshoot of Sky TV, the shows and films it has in its collection are new, premium productions, but your access is far more limited, depending on which parts you pay for. But it markets itself more like a streaming service, since it doesn’t need a box or a long-term contract to use, even though it doesn’t have the same breadth of content. However, despite these curiosities, it’s still a really good option and if tailored correctly, could be just perfect for you and anyone else you care to share it with. To find out if Now TV is something that would suit your needs, let us guide you through the passes, prices and programming that the service can offer you.
What is Now TV and how does it work?
Now TV is Sky’s answer to online streaming. This means it gives users access to Sky’s on-demand programming from many of Sky’s subscription channels. You won’t get everything, but it's a solid selection.
What you can watch depends on which package you decide to go for. Now TV calls packages 'passes' and there are five different ones available: Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids, Sky Sports and Hayu.
Here’s how the Now TV homepage looks with all of the passes
All of the passes apart from Sky Sports begin with a 14 day free trial. The idea is it’ll give you a taster of how they work and whether they have the best content for you. But if you forget to cancel the trial, or want to keep it going, Now TV will automatically take the fee for the next month.
But don’t worry, from there you can pay for each pass on a rolling, monthly basis, which means you have the option to cancel them whenever you want. This is a really attractive offer, especially if you want the Kids pass just for entertaining kids over summer or the Sky Cinema pass for watching movies over Christmas or the Entertainment option to catch up on two specific shows.
You can choose just one pass to use, which makes sense if you’re particularly into one kind of content, whether that’s occupying your little ones with the Kids pass and cartoon programming or you’re a football fan and want to watch games live as they happen with Sky Sports.
But you can also choose a selection of passes too. If that sounds good to you, be sure to check the Now TV website for deals and bundles that could save you some serious pennies.
There are lots of different devices you can watch Now TV on, including games consoles, lots of smart TVs and your iOS or Android smartphone. Basically, as long as you’ve got the internet there’ll be a way to watch.
What are the Now TV packages and what’s included?
Packages are called passes in the land of Now TV and there are five different ones currently available: Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids, Sky Sports and Hayu.
You can buy just one pass or a combination of two or all of them. There are some deals on if you get one or more, keep an eye on the Now TV website for the latest.
Here’s the Entertainment pass homescreen when you open it up from a laptop
The Entertainment pass is all about TV shows and binge-worthy boxsets that you’d usually find on Sky Atlantic, Fox and Comedy Central in a full Sky subscription.
The Entertainment offering is good because it allows you to catch up on shows that are currently ongoing. But it’ll also allow you to watch not so recent TV shows that you might have missed over the last few years, as well as classics too.
Right now some of the best shows available on Now TV include American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Desperate Housewives, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire and The Wire.
It’s worth bearing in mind that TV shows tend to come and go really quickly on Now TV. Luckily the service often keeps its info up to date, so be sure to check when shows will be leaving before you dive head first into past seasons of a new show that’s leaving in a matter of days.
As you’d expect, this pass is all about the movies. It’s the most expensive option, but in many ways we think it’s great value for money as many of the movies offered on the service are really, really new. This is one reason Now TV trumps Netflix, which tends to get hold of movies a little later.
There are currently more than 1000 movies available on Now TV and there’s a good selection of classics as well as the latest blockbusters, some of the newest titles include Black Panther, A Fantastic Woman, IT, The Snowman and Justice League.
The Kids homescreen is packed full of cute cartoons, old classics and the latest must-watch shows
The Kids pass offers up some of the best programming from channels like Nickelodeon, Nick Toons and Cartoon Network. Now TV tends to get these programmes as soon as they go live on Sky, including shows like Ben 10, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Turtles and The Thundermans.
There are a number of Sports passes to choose from, which adds even more flexibility to Now TV because you can just get a pass for a Week or even a Day if there’s one particular event you want to watch live. You’ll find most of the events that are shown live on the Sky Sports channels will be available on Now TV.
The most recently added pass, Hayu is for reality TV addicts. Its focus is on US reality TV shows, like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of Orange County, which you wouldn’t usually be able to watch on regular TV here in the UK.
The best bit is you’re able to watch these shows the same day as US audiences, which is great news for those who hate spoilers and want to chat about the shows online ASAP.
Do you need a contract for Now TV?
If you’re interested in the Entertainment, Hayu, Kids and Sky Cinema passes you can start by signing up to a free 14 day trial. Then once that time is up you need to either cancel the trial or Now TV will automatically use the details you signed up with to set up an account and pay monthly.
But even then there’s no contract. You can log in to your account and cancel it whenever you like. This is good news as it means you can dip in and out of Now TV whenever you like. Although it works in the same way most rolling contracts do, so if you pay the fee but then don’t want to watch the next month, you can’t get it back. Instead, you’re just cancelling the next payment.
Sky Sports works differently, presumably so you don’t just sign up to watch some great games and then bow out again for free. You can buy a Day pass for £7.99, Week pass for £12.99, Month pass for £33.99 or Mobile Month pass for £5.99 (although there are regular discounts) and they all do what they say on the tin. The Week and Day pass are one-off payments, but the Month passes will auto-renew monthly. Just like the other passes, you can cancel those at any time.
How much does Now TV cost?
How much Now TV costs will totally depend on which passes you want. Even then, there’s a lot of different choices, you can opt for bundles, add in a Smart Stick or just opt for one pass and keep it simple.
After your free trial is over, an Entertainment pass is £7.99 per month, a Sky Cinema pass is £9.99 per month, a Kids pass is £3.99 per month and a Hayu pass is £3.99 per month. Sky Sports works to a different structure and begins with a Day pass for £7.99 all the way through to a Month pass for £33.99. Confused yet? Yep, us too!
We’d recommend heading over to the Now TV website and shopping through your options because different bundles and introductory deals are often offered. For example, right now if you commit to six months of Entertainment and Sky Cinema it’ll cost you £51, which is a saving of 51%. Of course that gets rid of the freedom of a rolling contract, but if you’ve got your heart set on TV shows and movies until Spring 2019, it’s a good deal.
The important thing to remember with all of these different passes and bundles is it can get expensive quickly if you sign up to all of the passes and think you need all of them - or just forget to end your free trial.
We’d recommend you’re smart about it and try a free trial that you intend on ending if you don’t really make the most of that pass over the next fortnight. You may think movies are just as important as TV shows for you, but it might turn out they’re not. Same with Hayu - you might think you like TV shows, but really you’re all about the reality shows.
What devices can I watch Now TV on?
Now TV works more like Netflix than Sky when it comes to how you can watch content - and what you can watch it on.
Every week the number of platforms and devices you can watch Now TV on grows. At the time of publishing, Now TV states there are more than 60 devices you can use. So as long as you have an internet connection, there’ll be a way for you to watch Now TV.
Right now it’s available on apps for both iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Chromecast, Roku, LG Smart TVs, Samsung Smart TVs, YouView, EETV and Apple TV.
Now TV also has its own range of hardware that you can plug into your TV. It offers both a Now TV Smart Stick and Now TV Smart Box that come with dedicated remotes and the best thing about both of them is there’s no installation process, you just plug them in, connect to the internet and can start watching one of the passes straight away.
Both the stick and the box also serve up third party content to your TV too, like iPlayer and All 4. Netflix has been recently added too, but you’ll obviously have to pay for a subscription to that too in order to watch the content.
There are a few different bundles to choose from. You can currently get your hands on the Now TV Smart Box with 1 month Entertainment, Sky Cinema and Kids passes plus a Sky Sports day pass for £49.99. Or just buy the box on its own and make your mind up about passes later for £45.99.
The Now TV Smart Stick currently comes with a number of bundles too. You can get the stick with a two month Entertainment pass for £19.99, a one month Sky Cinema pass for £19.99, a one month Sky Sports pass for £29.99 or just buy it on its own for only £14.99.
How fast does my internet need to be to watch Now TV?
You’ll need to have Broadband that offers up a minimum download speed of 2.5Mbps and 3G or 4G that offers up 180Kbps to watch Now TV.
The quality of your streaming will depend on how good your internet connection is because Now TV uses adaptive bitrate streaming to cope with different speeds. That means we’ve found that the better speeds mean less buffering, more seamless streaming and a good quality picture. This may seem obvious, but it’s definitely worth checking how good your home broadband really is before you buy a pass.
The maximum available streaming quality is 720p on all devices, apart from YouView. This puts it behind Netflix, which offers 1080p and HD streaming with its HD plan. However, Now TV says it does hope to introduce higher-quality streaming in the future. Fingers crossed.
Can I record shows or movies on Now TV?
No. There may be some (slightly illegal) loophole if you go searching for one, but officially you can’t. That means if you were thinking of getting rid of your Sky box and relying solely on Sky Go, you might be disappointed because you can’t store shows or movies.
The only exception to this rule is with the Kids pass on iOS and Android devices. With that you can watch content offline, but it only applies to that one pass. We presume Now TV really felt for parents who have kids that only stay quiet when their favourite show is on.
The Watchlist is a user-friendly and handy feature for lining up your next binge watch
What you can do is save content to a watchlist, but it won’t be stored. It’s just a list of things you’d like to watch.
With a Now TV Smart Box with Freeview and Now TV Smart Stick you can pause and rewind the live TV channels for 30 minutes. On all other devices you can pause and rewind movies and shows.
Are there adverts on Now TV?
Sometimes there are a few adverts at the start of a movie, TV show or kids programme. These can range from just one to three or four and are a mix of general advertisements and sometimes trailers for other shows or movies on the service.
As far as we know, there’s no official way to get rid of these ads. They’re just part of the service, so it’s best to make peace with them from the start.
Does Now TV have subtitles?
Yes, but not on all of its content. According to Now TV, subtitles are available for around 1000 movies and 20 shows that are part of the Sky Cinema and Entertainment passes.
If 20 shows seems a bit small, Now TV thinks that too and has admitted it’s taken longer than it expected to add subtitles to all shows within the Entertainment pass.
For now, you can look at the information about a show or movie and if it has an 'S' alongside its rating, subtitles will be available.
How many people can watch Now TV at once?
Now TV can be registered on up to four separate devices, which is a decent amount considering you’ll likely want it on your phone, a tablet and possibly one or two TVs in your home.
But even though it’s on four separate devices, you can only watch it on two at the same time or just one if you have a Sky Sports Mobile month pass. Technically that means you could share your Now TV account with one other person for non-sport-related content. Of course we wouldn’t recommend you do that, but if you wanted to, you could.
Is Now TV worth it?
If you can only afford one streaming platform, we still think Netflix might be the winner thanks to its fantastic original content and easy-to-use UI. But it really all depends on what you like to watch. If sports, kids shows, recently-released movies and reality TV are your thing, you could get a much better experience from Now TV.
Movies and TV shows will largely depend on the back catalogues of each service, but before you decide we’d recommend you take a good look over what’s currently available on Now TV and use up your 14 day free trial - that one show you’ve been meaning to watch for years might just sway you. For example, we loved watching Westworld so kept a rolling contract going just to catch up on that.
The best part is the rolling contract - or even the day passes. As long as you remember to cancel your contract if or when you’ve had your fill of Now TV, it’s a really flexible structure to offer customers and takes away all the headaches of lengthy contracts that you’re tied into for months upon months. In that way it’s also a great alternative option for those who can’t afford the money or commitment of Sky’s full satellite service.
The key to using Now TV well is taking the time to really think about which of the passes you need, otherwise you could be collecting them all and wasting your cash.
Now TV is a good streaming platform with a solid choice of content, especially if you have a top broadband connection. It may not beat Netflix hands down just yet, but with its no-commitment structure, choice of passes and excellent library of shows, movies, sports and kids programmes it’s an alternative (or addition) to your streaming addiction that’s more than worth your while to check out. Or at least take the free 14 day trial for a spin to see if it’s a good fit for you.