Now is a subscription over-the-top internet television service operated by British satellite television provider Sky. Launched in the United Kingdom in 2012, the service is now also available in the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Germany (where it operates as Sky Ticket), and arguably to some extent in Austria (where elements like online account management support the Sky X service). The service was also available in Spain, marketed as Sky, between 2017 and 2020.
|Other names||Now TV (2012–2021)|
|Original author(s)||Sky Group|
|Initial release||17 July 2012|
Now offers both live streaming and video-on-demand without a contract. The service offers "passes" for different content, with a monthly fee on a pay-as-you-go basis. Differing passes offer films, sports and entertainment from Sky such as those from Sky Atlantic and Sky Cinema, and both British and American licensed third-parties such as Fox. The service is available to consumers through retail Roku-based Now TV digital media players (in both set-top box and HDMI dongle form factors) as well as via an app on computers, various mobile devices, some game consoles and set-top boxes. It is separate from and not viewable through the Sky Go Internet service, or via Sky's digital satellite television service Sky Q.
History and coverage
Sky Picnic was a proposed pay television service which would have sat alongside Freeview and Top Up TV on the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform in the United Kingdom. The proposal detailed replacing Sky's three free-to-air channels (Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three) with five pay TV channels: Sky Sports 1, Sky Movies SD1 plus Sky One during the evening with one hour of Sky News content. There would also be two further daytime channels: a factual channel and a children's channel. It was first proposed in 2007 but was subject to a public consultation by Ofcom. Whilst the service was cleared to launch in 2010 it never officially launched, Sky having put it on hold in 2008.
The Sky Picnic proposal was ultimately superseded by the internet-based Now TV platform.
Now TV was unveiled by Sky UK in March 2012, and designed for people who have no existing pay TV subscription. Its official launch was on 17 July 2012, initially providing films, putting it in competition with Lovefilm and Netflix.
The Now TV service was later extended to other territories covered by the Sky Group. In 2014 a similar internet service called "Sky Online" was launched by Sky Deutschland in Germany and Austria, and by Sky Italia in Italy in 2015. In 2016, Sky Online in Germany and Austria was revamped as "Sky Ticket" and structured the same as Now TV in the UK, and was rebranded in Italy under the original British name of Now TV. On 26 April 2017, Now TV launched in the Republic of Ireland. On 11 September 2017, the service launched as simply "Sky" in Spain, the first Sky-branded product in that country. In March 2019, Sky X launched in Austria, making use of a blend of Now TV and Sky Q elements, and gradually replaced Sky Ticket, as an offering between Sky Ticket and the full TV service Sky Q. On 1 September 2020, Sky stopped offering the product in Spain.
In Summer 2016, Sky UK extended the brand to telecommunication services by launching contract-free budget broadband internet in the UK, initially named Now TV Combo, and from early 2018 branded as Now Broadband.
Sky España was a service of Sky and supplied over-the-top pay television and video on demand service accessible only through the Internet created to compete with Movistar+, Netflix, and Prime Video in Spain.
Yoigo is an operator of Internet and mobile services which maintains an exclusive agreement that allows customers to the rate into Fibra + la Sinfín with unlimited fibre access to Sky España service for €6 per month.
Content and channels
Upon its UK debut in 2012, Now TV offered only films at first, adding sports in March 2013, and entertainment channels in October 2013. Film and entertainment channels are accessed by paying a monthly fee, and sports on an ad-hoc basis ("pay as you go"). Unlike Sky's flagship satellite TV service, Now TV does not require a long-term contract.
Now TV offers "passes" with a specific set of content or channels that can be watched on demand or as live TV. The "Entertainment" pass has general entertainment content/channels from Sky itself (e.g. Sky One) and third-parties (e.g. Syfy), whilst the "Kids" pass covers children's networks such as Nickelodeon, and a "Sky Cinema" pass offers over a thousand films from Sky Cinema. There is also a dedicated "Hayu" pass, and a "Sports" pass (which offers a daily or monthly option), along with a sports pass solely for mobile devices to stream live Sky Sports channels.
The Now TV boxes and dongles have extra downloadable apps that provide access to free catch-up or streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and UKTV Play, as well as access to Sky Store, Netflix (added in late 2018), Sky Sports Box Office, Disney+ (added in April 2020) and YouTube. From Spring 2020, Now TV provided access to BT Sport, and at the same time Now TV became available for BT TV customers.
- Now TV proprietary devices
- Now TV Player app on PC or Tablet running Windows 8.1 or later; Mac computers running OS X Mavericks 10.9 or later
- Android devices via app.
- iOS 8 or later devices via app.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
- Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S (Xbox 360 no longer supported)
- PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 (PlayStation 3 no longer supported)
- Roku LT (Purple), XS, 3 (Black), Streaming Stick
- EE TV
- Apple TV (3rd generation and later)
- YouView including BT TV/TalkTalk TV/Plusnet TV (the full Now TV service was added on 21 February 2020)
- LG selected smart TVs, Blu-ray players and sound bars
- Samsung selected smart TVs
The service offers streams at up to 720p resolution (or up to 1080p resolution, when subscribed to Now TV HD Boost at an extra cost) depending on the playback device. It uses adaptive bitrate streaming.
Now TV hardware
In July 2013, Sky launched a white Now TV-branded Roku streaming box, allowing users to stream Now TV content to their television via an analogue baseband connection or an HDMI input. It retailed for £9.99. It has limited access to the Roku Channel Store and only a pre-approved list of channels can be downloaded. A number of third-party channels can be side-loaded to the device using its Developer Mode.
In August 2015, Sky launched the Now TV Box 2 (based around a 2015 Roku 2) in black. It offers the same content as the original Now TV (white) box, but has a faster processor, an Ethernet port alongside Wi-Fi, a USB port and an SD card slot (not functional by default), and is capable of outputting at full HD (1080p) resolution. Unlike the original Now TV Box, the Now TV Box 2 does not have an analogue audio/video output socket.
The Now TV Smart Box ("Smart Box with Freeview"), coloured black with a blue logo, was launched exclusively in the UK in July 2016. It includes access to Freeview channels through an aerial, via an internal DTT tuner that allows the user to pause (for up to 30 minutes) and rewind live TV.
In January 2018, Sky introduced the Now TV Smart Stick dongle which plugs directly into a TV's HDMI input and includes voice search. It was noted as the cheapest smart TV stick in the UK, costing £14.99 at launch compared to £39.99 for its rival Amazon Fire TV Stick.
The second generation Now TV Smart Box ("Smart Box with 4K") was introduced in September 2018 and is coloured black with a pink logo. It is smaller in size (mainly due to the removal of the Freeview TV tuner) and includes the voice search capability from the Smart Stick. This box is capable of streaming at 2160p (4K) resolution.
|Now TV "White" Box||Now TV "Black" Box||Now TV Smart Box (1st Generation)||Now TV Smart Stick||Now TV Smart Box (2nd Generation)|
|Release Date||July 2013||August 2015||July 2016||February 2018||September 2018|
|UK Model Numbers||2400SK||4200SK; 4201UK||4500SK||3801||4631UK|
|Republic of Ireland Model Numbers||N/A||4201IE||N/A||3801||N/A|
|Italy Model Numbers||N/A||300338||N/A||3801||N/A|
|Remote control||Infrared with 13 buttons.||Infrared with 13 buttons.||Infrared with 13 buttons.||Wi-Fi Direct (point-anywhere) using 17 buttons.
Infrared for television power and volume control using 3 buttons.
|Wi-Fi||Single-band 802.11 (b/g/n compatible) with WEP, WPA and WPA2 support.||Dual-band 802.11 (a/b/g/n compatible) with WEP, WPA and WPA2 support.||Dual-band 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac compatible) with WEP, WPA, WPA2 support, and Hotel Connect.|
|Ethernet ports||N/A||1x 100BASE-TX||N/A||1x 1000BASE|
|USB||N/A||USB Type A socket, not functional.||Micro USB Type B socket as power input only.||N/A|
|Secure Digital||N/A||microSD, not functional||N/A||microSD, not functional|
|Terrestrial TV tuner||N/A||N/A||Freeview and Freeview HD||N/A||N/A|
|Pause and Rewind live TV||N/A||N/A||Freeview and Freeview HD (up to 30 minutes).||Now TV pass live television channels (up to 30 minutes).|
(all via HDMI)
|Audio outputs||Digital over HDMI: 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass-through.|
|Central Processing Unit||Single-core||Dual-core||Quad-core|
|Dimensions||3.31 in × 3.31 in × 0.91 in (84 mm × 84 mm × 23 mm)||3.50 in × 3.50 in × 0.98 in (89 mm × 89 mm × 25 mm)||6.50 in × 6.50 in × 0.81 in (165 mm × 165 mm × 20.5 mm)||3.31 in × 0.80 in × 0.50 in (84 mm × 20.3 mm × 12.6 mm)||4.92 in × 4.92 in × 0.83 in (125 mm × 125 mm × 21 mm)|
|Weight||3.00 oz (85 g)||4.97 oz (141 g)||15.24 oz (432 g)||0.71 oz (20 g)||7.83 oz (222 g)|
|Power Input||5.2 Volt – 1.0 Amps via supplied AC power adaptor.||5.99 Volt – 2 Amps via supplied AC power adaptor.||12 Volt – 2 Amps via supplied AC power adaptor.||5 Volt – 1.0 Amps via USB port/supplied AC power adaptor.||5.99 Volt – 2 Amps via supplied AC power adaptor.|
|Power Consumption||Typical when streaming video: less than 2 Watts.||Typical when streaming video: less than 3.5 Watts.||Typical when streaming high definition content: less than 3.5 Watts.||Typical when streaming ultra high definition content: less than 9 Watts.|
Before its launch, Hong Kong based PCCW filed trademark complaints about British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB)'s Now TV service. In October 2012, a High Court judgment in London ruled that BSkyB did not infringe PCCW's rights regarding the Now TV name.
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