NOW TV review – is it any good?
By Dan Howdle | Thursday, February 13th 2020
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, Google Chromecast or Apple TV, or with NOW TV's own streaming stick. And you can choose any combination of NOW TV’s sports, movies, kids, entertainment or reality TV passes.
NOW TV overview
|Channels||Up to 11 depending on the pass|
|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 Pass from||£8.99 per month|
NOW TV channels
All NOW TV Passes offer a mix of live channels and on-demand content. The channels you get depend on which passes you choose to take.
The NOW TV Entertainment Pass gives you access to Sky One, Sky Witness, Sky Atlantic, Sky Comedy, Gold, Comedy Central, SYFY, Fox, MTV, Discovery, Pick, Challenge, Nat Geo Wild, and Vice. 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 Pass, 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, though the top-drawer shows leave and return to the platform frequently, so be sure the show you want to watch is currently available before signing up.
Sky Cinema Pass
With NOW TV's Sky Cinema Pass 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. 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, Megahits, Greats, Disney, Family, Action, Comedy, Thriller, Drama and Sci-Fi & Horror. 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 Pass gives you access to six children's channels that aren't on Freeview: Boomerang, Cartoonito, the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr and Nicktoons. There’s also 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.
Sky Sports Pass
The Sky Sports Pass works rather differently from NOW TV’s other passes, enabling people who just want to watch occasional sporting events to do so. Whatever length Sports Pass 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 Sports Pass that though the other passes on offer all represent great value versus the content they provide, a one-month Sports Pass on NOT TV is one of the most expensive ways to watch Sky Sports.
The Hayu Pass allows you 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 Stick in order to watch NOW TV. You can do so via any device that supports the NOW TV app, such as a games console, smart TV's, other streaming sticks or streaming devices, tablets, mobiles and so on. But if you just have a basic TV and are looking for beef up your viewing options, it might be worth getting a NOW TV 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 Pass
The NOW TV Sky Sports Month Pass 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. Ok, this isn't so much an add-on as an alternative to a standard pass, but anyway.
The Sky Sports Mobile Month Pass 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 Pass. 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 or BT does. But it is possible for two of you 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 passes, 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 and it’s at time 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 pass, such as the Sky Cinema Pass 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. You can order the NOW TV Smart Stick if you need one on its own or with a few months’ worth of passes 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 streaming stick and it’s just a NOW TV pass you’re after, that’s ok too. You can start a 7-day free trial of the Entertainment, Kids, Sky Cinema or Hayu pass and then either pay the monthly price or cancel. There’s also often introductory offers and discounts for taking multiple passes at the same time.
The Sky Sports passes work a bit differently. The Sky Sports Month Pass will automatically renew unless cancelled and there’s no free trial period available. The day and week passes 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. At 720p, and often stereo (not surround) sound, from a technical standpoint, NOW TV has fallen a very, very 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 factor resolution for new shows and movies, they are sending images to your screen that are more than 10 times sharper than NOW TV provides. There are many who might be considered 'enthusiasts' who shun NOW TV altogether for this reason.
One would hope that Sky and NOW TV wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to image and sound quality, but users have been waiting years just for them to upgrade the service to true HD (1080p) let alone 4K. If you have a TV of 50 inches or less, you may not even notice the low resolution. People with larger sets and/or surround sound systems however, are likely to be somewhat disappointed by what they see and hear.
NOW TV review: our final verdict
- Range of TV passes
- Flexible one-month contracts
- Free 14-day trial
- Box can’t record TV
- Poor sound and image quality compared to competition
- Having multiple passes 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 pass is a much cheaper way of watching Game of Thrones than if you were to take 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. 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, provided you're not sensitive to the sub-HD resolution of the images NOW TV provides.
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?
Sky One, Sky Witness, Sky Atlantic, Sky Comedy, Gold, Comedy Central, SYFY, Fox, MTV, Discovery, Pick, Challenge, Nat Geo Wild, Vice and Sky Atlantic.
Can you record on NOW TV?
No. NOW TV is streaming service similar to Netflix. You can pause and rewind live TV.