On Monday night Mild Concern were invited along to the launch of NOW TV – a new online movie streaming service from Sky. The event included a short presentation, plenty of hands-on access to the new service and lots of food and incredibly strong cocktails. The cocktails will not be the focus of this post but if they were then they would be very positively reviewed.
Launching this week NOW TV allows online access to Sky Movies films on PC, Mac and selected Android smartphones; on iPhone, iPad in the next month, Xbox later this summer and YouView when it launches. From our extensive poking I am happy to say that NOW TV has a pleasing interface and is easy to use. Films are organised by genre and searchable by title, actor, or director. The films played instantly and picture quality was superb, though it should be noted that NOW TV is not available in HD. We did find a bit of an issue when we tried to watch Footloose (1984) but were assured that this was simply down to the fact that the service had yet to launch. Hopefully if you sign up now you will not be denied Kevin Bacon.
So the software works great and the cocktails were nice and strong, but is NOW TV worth your money? What NOW TV seems to be focussing on is its exclusive access to the latest films; there are up to five new and exclusive Sky Movies premieres, at least 12 months before they are available on other online subscription services. The recency of their films seems to have been achieved at a detriment to the range of films on offer. For your £15/month subscription you have unlimited access to over 600 titles. Compare this to Lovefilm with over 6,000 titles for £4.99/month and Netflix with over 1,000 titles for £5.99/month and NOW TV starts to look like a pricey option.
NOW TV is targeting people who do not have Sky but will struggle with being limited to only streaming films currently licensed to the Sky Movies channels and charging triple what their major rivals with wider catalogues are asking for. The good news is that NOW TV offers a ‘pay and play’ service on a longer list of 1,000 films with prices ranging from 99p for classic titles to £3.49 for the latest blockbusters. My suggestion would be to hold off on the £15 subscription and just pay to watch the recent titles you can’t get on a cheaper service elsewhere.
Anyone frustrated by Sky Atlantic buying up all the best American TV should keep an eye on NOW TV as it is set to add content from Sky Sports, Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts and Sky Living. From what I could make out from our chat with the people from Sky through my cocktail haze TV shows will be available both through subscription and again on a ‘pay and play’ basis. What has yet to be decided is how much the addition of TV content will affect subscription costs or how much a single TV series will cost to watch. “We absolutely cannot discuss cost” was something I distinctly remember hearing as I sucked down a lemon and lime flavoured rum-based drink and took a pick and mix bag from a silver tray.
In summary NOW TV is not a service to rush out and sign up to right away but once it has content from Sky Atlantic added to its catalogue then I will definitely be taking a second look. Certainly worth noting that Footloose (1984) is only available through ‘pay and play’ for £1.99 while Footloose (2011) is available through the subscription service.
For more details on NOW TV, please visit: www.nowtv.com