NOW TV review 2021
By Dan Howdle | Monday, May 10th 2021
NOW TV is a subscription-based streaming service that allows you to watch top Sky content on a flexible month-by-month basis. You don’t need a satellite dish, just a smart TV with the app or a streaming device such as an Amazon Fire Stick, a Roku stick, Google Chromecast or Apple TV, or with NOW TV's own streaming stick. And you can choose any combination of NOW TV’s Sports, Cinema, Kids, Entertainment or reality TV Memberships.
NOW TV overview
|Channels||Up to 11 depending on the membership|
|Can bundle with broadband?||Yes|
|Set-top box||NOW TV Smart Box, NOW TV Smart Stick or any smart TV or device with the app|
|Entertainment Membership from||£8.99 per month|
NOW TV channels
All NOW TV Membership offer a mix of live channels and on demand content. The channels you get depend on which Memberships you choose to take.
The NOW TV Entertainment Membership gives you access to Sky One, Sky Witness, Sky Atlantic, Sky Comedy, Gold, Comedy Central, Sci Fi, Sky History, Sky Nature, Sky Arts, Sky Documentaries and Sky Crime. That's only a third of the number of channels that you get with a Sky TV subscription, but it does include arguably Sky's most popular channel, Sky Atlantic. Most people will probably find it plenty.
You also get access to on demand content with the Entertainment Membership, and catch-up is available for up to 30 days. There are more than 300 box sets from premium channels, with must-see content, including Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, although the top-drawer shows do come and go on the platform frequently, so be sure the show you want to watch is currently available before signing up.
Sky Cinema Membership
With NOW TV's Sky Cinema Membership you get more than 1,000 movies on demand, with a wide range of classics and new releases. There are themed movie collections, including science fiction, horror, action, comedy, Disney and romance, along with seasonal collections at Christmas and Halloween for example. Even if you manage to watch your way through the lot, there's a new premiere every day to keep you entertained.
You also get access to 10 live Sky Cinema channels. They are Sky Cinema Premiere, Hits, Action, Animation, Family, Comedy, Sci-Fi & Horror, Thriller, Greats, and Drama. And all this comes in at a price that's noticeably cheaper than getting Sky Cinema through Sky itself or even through a rival provider like BT.
The NOW TV Kids Membership gives you access to six children's channels that aren't on Freeview: Boomerang, Cartoonito, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr and Nicktoons. There’s also hours of catch up and on demand content. There's a simple, picture-based interface, which means that your kids shouldn't be badgering you for help all the time.
There are thousands of episodes to choose from, with plenty of content for kids of all ages, from babies up to teens. Parental controls mean you can choose what your kids are able to watch. However, the lack of Disney channels may leave some customers disappointed. For that you will need to sign up to Disney+ as well.
Sky Sports Membership
The Sky Sports Membership works rather differently from NOW TV’s other memberships, enabling people who just want to watch occasional sporting events to do so. Whatever length Sports membership you buy (a day, a week or a month), you'll get access to the same ten channels.
There's a dedicated channel for the Premier League as well as football, cricket, golf, Formula 1 and horse racing.
The Sky Sports Action, Arena and Mix channels cover Rugby Union, Rugby League, boxing, darts, NFL, tennis, athletics and more. There's a Main Event channel dedicated to the biggest live events from across Sky's range of sports channels. And of course there’s Sky Sports News – what else are you going to watch on transfer deadline day?
It's worth bearing in mind with the NOW TV Sports Membership that though the other memberships on offer all represent great value versus the content they provide, a one-month Sports membership on NOW TV is one of the most expensive ways to watch Sky Sports.
The Hayu membership allows you to stream the latest reality shows from the US and stay up-to-date with programmes such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians. There are no live channels included but there are more than 5,000 episodes to watch on demand.
NOW TV set-top box
NOW TV Smart Box
You don’t need a NOW TV Smart Box or Smart Stick in order to watch NOW TV. You can do so via any device that supports the NOW TV app, such as games consoles, smart TVs, other streaming sticks or streaming devices, tablets, mobiles and so on. But if you just have a basic TV and are looking to beef up your viewing options, it might be worth getting a NOW TV Box or Stick.
With the NOW TV Stick (powered by Roku), you can also pause and rewind live TV. And beyond NOW TV itself, you'll also be able to load BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and other streaming apps.
The Smart Stick turns an ordinary television into a smart TV. And it now comes with HD and voice search and voice control capability. You can also pause live TV for up to 30 minutes. You'll need to sign up for a NOW TV account first; then you just plug the stick in to a spare HDMI port on your TV and away you go.
NOW TV add-ons
Sky Sports Mobile Month Membership
The NOW TV Sky Sports Month Membership does allow you to watch on the go, but if you're going to be watching mainly on your phone, then there is a cheaper way to do it. (OK, this isn't so much an add-on as an alternative to a standard membership, but anyway.)
The Sky Sports Mobile Month Membership allows you to watch Premier League action and more on your mobile, but not on your telly. And it costs quite a bit less than the full Sky Sports Month Membership. There’s only five channels included here so it depends what you’re into as to whether this is appealing. The included channels are Sky Sports Premier League, Action, Arena, Racing and, for some reason, Sky News.
NOW TV doesn't offer a Multiroom package and installation in the same way that Sky TV or BT TV does. But it is possible for two people to watch NOW TV in different rooms at the same time. You can register up to four devices to your NOW TV account and then use two of them simultaneously. Compatible devices include PS4, Xbox One, smart TVs, tablets and phones using iOS or Android.
NOW TV packages and bundles
Bundles with broadband
As with the individual NOW TV membership, you can sign up for either NOW TV or NOW Broadband separately or take both. There are also times when NOW TV bundles them together as a special offer and it’s at times like these that you can save yourself quite a bit of money.
The bundles vary over time, so sometimes it’ll be a NOW TV Smart Box and NOW Broadband bundled together. At other times it’ll be a specific membership, such as the Sky Cinema Membership that is bundled in with NOW Broadband. Free anytime calls are often included with NOW Broadband deals.
TV on its own
NOW TV doesn’t insist on you being a NOW Broadband customer before you can sign up for NOW TV – but you will need a broadband connection from any provider. You can order the NOW TV Smart Stick if you need one on its own or with a few months’ worth of Memberships included. The NOW TV Smart Stick can also be bought pre-loaded with a month of Sky Sports, a month of Sky Cinema or two months of Entertainment.
If you don’t want a set-top box or a streaming stick and it’s just a NOW TV membership you’re after, that’s OK too. You can start a 7-day free trial of the Entertainment, Kids, Sky Cinema or Hayu membership and then either pay the monthly price or cancel. There’s also often introductory offers and discounts for taking multiple memberships at the same time.
The Sky Sports memberships work a bit differently. The Sky Sports Month Membership will automatically renew unless cancelled and there’s no free 7-day trial period available. The day and week memberships are treated as one-off purchases so there’s no need to cancel. Again, look out for special offers and discounts.
An important note on image and audio quality
Before we reach our final conclusion, we feel we must warn, with a completely separate note here, of the comparatively low quality images and sounds provided by the NOW TV platform as standard. At 720p, and often stereo (not surround) sound, from a technical standpoint, NOW TV has fallen a long way behind its competitors.
720p is better than DVD quality, but lower than blu-ray quality. As TVs get bigger and cheaper, the amount of pixels – the resolution – on-screen starts to matter more. And with the likes of Netflix and Amazon choosing 4K as their de facto resolution for new shows and movies, they are sending images to your screen that are more than 10 times sharper than NOW TV provides. If you have a TV of 50 inches or less, you may not notice the low resolution, but people with larger sets and/or surround sound systems are likely to be somewhat unimpressed.
NOW TV Boost offers full HD
NOW TV has recently introduced the option to pay an extra £3 per month for Boost. This allows viewing in Full 1080p HD, provides surround sound audio, and permits customers three streams rather than two, so that three members of your household can stream at once rather than two as is standard with NOW TV. Full HD as standard is what we’d like to see NOW TV offering, but at least with Boost you can enjoy the full clarity and sound of films and TV shows, albeit at extra cost.
NOW TV review: our final verdict
- Range of TV Memberships
- Flexible one-month contracts
- Free 7-day trial
- Box can’t record TV
- Poor sound and image quality compared to competition
- Having multiple Memberships can get expensive
In some ways NOW TV is a cut-down version of Sky TV, but it still offers some cracking content. It’s an easy and commitment-free way to access Sky Sports for those important events. And the Entertainment Membership is a much cheaper way of watching Game of Thrones than taking out a full Sky subscription. All this without the need for a satellite dish or a lengthy contract.
The NOW TV Stick is a really cheap way to turn your standard television into a smart TV, and even comes with voice control. As a bonus, customers wanting to upgrade to Full HD and surround sound can now do so with NOW TV Boost. On top of that, the company offers truly unlimited broadband at a decent price. All in all, if you're looking for solid content on a flexible contract and at a good price, NOW TV is fantastic value.
Frequently asked questions
What is NOW TV?
NOW TV is a subscription-based streaming service that allows you to watch top Sky content on a flexible month-by-month basis.
What channels are on NOW TV Entertainment?
Sky One, Sky Witness, Sky Atlantic, Sky Comedy, Gold, Comedy Central, Sci Fi, Sky History, Sky Nature, Sky Arts, Sky Documentaries and Sky Crime.
Can you record on NOW TV?
No. NOW TV is a streaming service similar to Netflix. You can pause and rewind live TV.