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Eye on Demand | April 25, 2017

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Sky Now TV Review

Sky Now TV Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
7
User Interface
7
Content on Offer
8
Device Availability
8
Value for Money
7
7.4

Great New Release Films

For many people the thought of subscribing to Sky again may seem a little odd, as a fair number have already packed up the dish and sold it on eBay to begin their migration forward towards the Internet. Still, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the UK’s largest satellite and pay TV service is hot on our heels to entice us back to their services, and to be honest, they do offer something quite different to the competition.

Now TV split their subscription options into three separate contract-free segments, Movie Pass (for monthly access to films), Entertainment Pass (for monthly access to television shows) and the Sports Pass (for a short term, 24hour-long segment to Sky Sports). All of them requires separate subscriptions, and this review will concentrate on the Movie and Entertainment Passes.

First impressions with Now TV doesn’t necessarily shine it in the best light when compared to the main UK competition, Netflix or Amazon Prime. Now TV offer significantly fewer films and television shows, via fewer platforms, at lower resolutions (than Netflix anyway) and at a higher cost. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind be interested?

Content is the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Pass

Now TV sits in what the industry calls the first pay TV window, whilst Netflix and Amazon Prime are in the second. What exactly does that mean? Well, the first pay TV window is the first phase where a film can be shown on a consumer subscription service. This is still behind various PPV rental and buy windows, but it normally begins around six months after theatrical release. For UK licenses, Sky usually have first call here, which is why it is sometimes known in the industry as the Sky Window.

WithMovie Button the exception of StudioCanal and Entertainment One which Prime have exclusive rights, and the odd Netflix coup (the Hobbit for instance), Netflix and Prime sit well within the second pay TV window. This extra distribution phase sits between the first pay TV window and terrestrial television, which means most films will be a good year behind the first and 18 months since hitting the cinemas.

As you can imagine, this gives Now TV quite a significant advantage, at least regarding films. If there is one common complaint heard about Netflix and Prime, it is that they lack many new release films. And indeed, if subscribers can’t wait for a new release, they are often compelled to rent or buy via PPV services like iTunes, Vudu or Blinkbox.

Now TV can have films only a few months away from the big screen, including some serious blockbuster titles, but it should be pointed out that movies can still generally be bought or rented via on-demand or physically before even the first pay TV window. Something to keep in mind if you only intend to watch the odd new release film, it could still be better value for money to stick with Netflix and/or Prime and rent the casual PPV film from iTunes, Vudu or similar.

Quality ButtonIn the past, video quality was a sticking point with Now TV in that originally they only offered standard definition. This has since improved with a number of platforms offering a very good quality 720p stream. Netflix do offer a much higher full HD 1080p stream they call Super HD, and even limited 4K, but unless you have an exceptionally large television, or you sit very close, many people will be satisfied with Now TV’s quality from the comfort of their sofas.

So what about price? This really is the big difference between Now TV and their main competitors. Sky are slowly learning how to run a television service in the brave new Internet world, which includes easy cancellation and no minimum subscription contract – something Netflix and Prime proudly offer and clearly missing from many of Sky’s satellite packages. You can start with a free 30 day trial, and if you don’t like the service, you can cancel at the end of each payment month.

Now TV’s current monthly Movie Pass subscription package costs £9.99. Granted, this is still slightly more expensive than Netflix or Prime, but the higher price reflects the acquisition of more recent blockbuster movies. Streaming licenses for the first pay TV window cost considerably more than the second or other much older films, and it is expected that this is passed onto the customer.

 

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Entertainment Pass

Entirely separate to the film subscription is Now TV’s newest package, the Entertainment Pass, which concentrates solely on television. Using the same website or UI as the Movie Pass, the Entertainment Pass opens up a wide range of programming both from their catch-up library where shows appear shortly after airing, and a back catalogue of box-sets – not to dissimilar from what Netflix or Hulu Plus provide, although naturally of course pulled from their own collection.

Like the Movie Pass, the Entertainment version offers both on-demand and live channels including Sky1, Sky Arts, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Fox, Gold, MTV, and ABC Studios (although the last is only available on-demand). Even though when you add up all the programmes that are available, it comes far shorter than what Netflix or Prime provide in the UK, there is a lot of unique content here that is only available on Now TV, especially the programming from Sky’s own channels. It is also worth pointing out that in many ways, Now TV’s Entertainment package is more closely related to Hulu Plus rather than Netflix, as it offers the latest material recently aired along with a back-catalogue.

Unfortunately, not all programmes that Sky broadcasts over their satellite services are available via the Now TV platform due to licensing restrictions. Now TV provides a list of programming each day of which they can’t stream online, and although at first glance it looks quite significant, Now TV says that it is only a small fraction of their total list of shows.

As for the monthly price, Now TV are currently asking for £6.99 for the Entertainment Pass, which when you consider that it often includes some premium HBO content, live television and the bulk of Sky’s television catch-up, it is not a bad price at all.

 


 

As far as platform support goes, this is one of Now TV’s strengths. Unlike Sky’s other contract-free Internet delivered service, Sky Go, Now TV is available on a wide range of devices including Android and iOS, Chromecast and selected Smart TVs, the Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, PS4 and its very own “Now TV Box”, which can be bought for only £10.

Unfortunately there is a bit of a gotcha. Now TV is owned by Sky, who have spent decades finding new and innovative ways to restrict their customers. The very concept of open usage as employed by the new arrivals such as Netflix and Amazon Prime seems unthinkable to Sky who have imposed a limit of 4 devices in your home which Now TV can be used on, and only watch on two at the same time. If you want to change devices once your limit is met, you can only do so with one change per month. Welcome back to Sky.

  • To have a look at programmes and box-sets of what is current showing on Now TV’s Entertainment Pass, click TV Shows below, or for films showing on their Movies Pass, click the Movies button. In any case, both of these Passes are separate subscriptions.

     

  • Access to Entertainment Pass

    Access to Movie Pass

    Now TV’s website is clean, well designed and to be honest, minus the sometimes overwhelming red colour scheme, not terribly dissimilar from Netflix. Posters are listed horizontally, with various collections vertically.

    The usual selection of Genres can be found at the top of the Movie Pass home screen, including Sci-Fi, Action, Indie, Family etc, along with additional collections that focus on specific topics such as Pixar Classics and World Cinema. As for the Entertainment Pass, various browsing options include Featured, Catch-up, Most Popular, New Series In and On-Demand.

    I won’t dwell too much on what is available, as unlike Netflix, there is no need to subscribe or even log in to view the selections. This is the sort of transparency that I like, and I wish Netflix wouldn’t be so evasive as to their own extensive collection.

    What you also find at the top of the screen is access to your account details – vital if you wish to end a subscription, switch on the payment pin (so that a code is required to prevent accidental purchases of additional services) as well as implementing the parental pin. Not to mention the device control panel, which could come in handy since only four different devices are actually permitted at any given time.

    What differs quite significantly from Netflix or Prime is the live TV feature, which allows direct live access to Sky’s existing 11 movie channels as well as the Entertainment packages 11 television channels. Although I appreciate this option for the Entertainment Pass, I really don’t understand why I would ever use it on the Movie Pass. Unlike the same content when viewed from on-demand, there are no FFW/REW or pause options, quality is restricted to SD and you have to start the film at scheduled times. The live streams work quite well with Sky’s entertainment package, as flicking through channels looking for short run programmes to watch still does have an appeal. But I never want to start a film halfway through – especially when I can just play from the beginning via their on-demand library.

    Video quality is the big let down via the web platform as only standard definition streams are available. This certainly could be a lot better, not only because the competition offer HD streams (up to 1080p 4800kbps from Netflix) but even Now TV offer 720p HD on other platforms.

    XWarning: When watching via a computer screen, it is important to remember to close the video window from Now TV’s own “X” rather than the browser’s. Failure to do so, or using the back button could result in Sky suspending your stream for 10minutes in violation of their simultaneous streaming policy.

    FFW and REW are accessed only via the scrubbing slider bar, which has the advantage of instantly being able to jump to any point in the movie by time-reference, but there are no thumbnails or visual queues to help you find specific scenes.

    Platform Pros:

    • Easy to use and uncluttered interface.
    • Fast navigation to specific time-frame in movies.
    • Live Movie and TV channels.
    • Resume feature available.
    • Access to control panel.
    • Movies played in original aspect ratios.

    Platform Cons:

    • Only SD quality streams on offer.
    • Not the most sofa-friendly environment.
    • Cannot pause, FFW or REW live TV.

    (A Smart DNS or VPN service may be required to access this content outside of the UK)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

     

  • Best Choice StampI guess it should come as no surprise that one of the best platforms to access Now TV, would in fact be through a Now TV box. This tiny £10 Roku LT clone not only costs next to nothing, but also provides overall an excellent way to enjoy the library of movies and television shows on your living room TV.

    Accessing the various categories, genres and collections couldn’t be easier, and all within a clean, uncluttered environment that is a pleasure to use. This isn’t just a given, as if you have ever used the original Prime app (before it went Amazon Prime) in 2013 or so on a smart TV, before they updated it, you will know how poorly designed an on-demand user interface could be.

    The Entertainment Pass offers various categories to browse, such as Featured, Catch-Up, Most Popular, New Boxsets, Genres, Kids Corner, Leaving Soon and Channels, whilst the Movie Pass provides New In, Most Popular, Must See, Genres and Collections. And although there is no Watchlist per se, which would have been nice to keep track of shows to watch in the future, there is a very handy My TV section, that lists previously watched shows from either the Movie or Entertainment Passes, complete with a functional Resume feature.

    Video quality is described as 720p HD, which really makes a difference on the big screen, but it may take a few moments before the video quality reaches its highest level, due to the variable bitrate based not only on your Internet’s bandwidth, but also your own WiFi connection – something which unfortunately cannot be avoided since the box does not offer any Ethernet connections. Still, only once did I experience serious video quality issues, but a reboot of the box seemed to fix that.

    I personally tested the Entertainment Package at approx 3220kbps* when at its best, which makes a good 720p HD. The video quality won’t put the shivers up Netflix’s spine, but at the same time it is nothing to complain to seriously about either.

    Scrubbing is quick whilst FFW & REW offers multiple speeds, but annoyingly Sky did not include any visual queues or thumbnails as to where you are in the film.

    Both the Movie and Entertainment passes also offer live channels, which provide a very similar quality stream.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent sofa-friendly UI.
    • Clean and uncluttered.
    • 720p HD streams for the Movie Pass (tested at approx. 3220kbps*).
    • Supports Resume.
    • Previously watched content listed via My TV.
    • Fast scrubbing in addition to FFW/REW.
    • Live movie and television channels.

    Platform Cons:

    • No visual queues for FFW/REW or scrubbing.
    • Frame cropping to fit within 16:9 television screen.
    • No Search function.
    • No Cross-Platform support.

    (Due to the design of this platform, in order to access outside of the UK, you may need a Smart DNS service and a router where DNS servers can be configured. VPNs are not a practical solution)

    Movies BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Live TV BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

     

  • Now TV iOS app: Availability – UK App store.

    The iOS review is due for an update. However, due to Now TV’s draconian device limit, we are not able to retest and review the platform at this stage.

    First impressions of Now TV’s iOS app are quite positive. A well designed user interface greets the user and works fluidly only in the way that a good touch screen platform can provide. Slide posters left and right within a collection, or up and down to offer more choices – it is extremely easy to find content you are after.

    The right hand side of the screen offers all the possible genres from Action through to Thriller, but one interesting point is that it also lists the quantity available in each genre, with at the time of publication the smallest category (Factual) offerering 41 titles, whilst the largest (Action) contained 212 with a grand total of all combined at 1392 videos. (Though not all of them are full feature films)

    Unlike on the web platform, it is actually possible to pause live TV, which is an additional bonus. But this doesn’t mean a full PVR style live service is available as there is still no ability to actually rewind back through live playback.

    Now TV on iPhoneWhilst the iPad version has the real estate to offer both the expected ease of use and decent sized mobile screen, the iPhone/iPod Touch app is not without its merits either. Despite the much smaller screen, the app itself is well designed and doesn’t feel cluttered.

    Still, there are some glaring omissions when using this platform. Despite the friendly looking AirPlay icon on the playback screen, this only works for audio. No video will stream to your Apple TV and this also includes mirroring. If you try to mirror Now TV’s content, you will be confronted by a somewhat odd message from Sky declaring AirPlay off-limits due to licensing issues. Odd because Sky have no problems with using other devices to playback content onto a TV, so why did they agree to such restrictive licensing deals for iOS? (keep in mind, more on-demand services than not permit AirPlay in some form or another). In their defense, the same message does say that Sky are working to bring this feature in the future.

    Normally, a complete lack of AirPlay would result in quite a significant drop in the score. This is after-all a vital method to bring television back to the main, living-room TV and restricting this to be honest is quite ridiculous. However, eagle-eyed readers may have noticed this didn’t affect the Netflix score either and that was because Netflix was directly available on the Apple TV box itself.

    In Now TV’s case, there is no Apple TV app. However, they do offer a rather incredible set-top box for only £10 which will not only provide a great sofa-friendly way to watch Now TV on your main television, but also just so happens to win the best platform award for this service at Eye on-Demand.

    Finally, Now TV doesn’t offer any offline download options. Granted, neither do Netflix or Prime, but without any AirPlay, this relegates the mobile platform to be of little use outside of watching films in the garden or on the toilet. After-all, how many people will happily use up their 3G allowance to watch a new blockbuster film on the move, especially considering how poor mobile coverage can be whilst in transit.

    Platform Pros:

    • SD quality is acceptable for the smaller screens. (tested at approx 1400kbps*)
    • Offers live TV channels.
    • Can pause live TV.
    • Instant scrubbing.
    • supports resume.
    • Movies played in original aspect ratios.

    Platform Cons:

    • No HD streams.
    • No AirPlay or HDMI out support.
    • Cannot FFW/REW live TV.
    • No visual queue or thumbnails during scrubbing.
    • No offline downloads.
    • Lacks a previously watched list with no My TV.

    (A Smart DNS or VPN service may be required to access this content outside of the UK)

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • Whilst the Now TV experience on an iPad or iPhone is a relatively pleasant one, Android users are left to suffer the fate of incomplete development.

    There is no dedicated Android tablet version for Now TV, so large screen users will have to settle for a vertically forced layout during navigation, which can be rather uncomfortable on the bigger tablets, but of course this will not be such an issue for mobile phone users.

    Episode management is a bit of a hit and miss thing, with timeline bars visible on the My List screen, but nothing to assist the viewer when accessing the series at its season level.

    Scrubbing is without thumbnail previews, so it can be difficult to find the exact place in a movie or TV show, but thankfully playback can be viewed in both vertical, or the more useful horizontal mode.

    Video quality maxes out at SD for on-demand movies, with an average bitrate we measured at 1650kbps*. Generally speaking, this is sufficient for the smaller screens, with even tablets not terribly bothered by visual artefacts.

    NowTV Movies Android 1650kbps

    Our test for live TV streams were not so good, averaging 785kbps*, which clearly were sub SD in nature. Video quality appeared a bit blocky on an 8″ tablet, but looks better on smaller phone screens.

    NowTV Ent live Android 785kbps

    Changing channels requires a two button action, which is not terribly bad, but could have been improved with touch-screen gestures.

    Finally, the Android app offers Chromecast support, which in Sky’s world uses up yet another one of your four precious devices. Check out the Chromecast tab for more information.

    Platform Pros:

    • Chromecast support.
    • My List available.
    • Resume available.
    • Live TV

    Platform Cons:

    • No dedicated app for tablet.
    • Forced vertical navigation.
    • SD quality only for on-demand.
    • Sub SD for live.
    • No offline downloads.

    (A Smart DNS or VPN service may be required to access this content outside of the UK)

    Movies BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON Sub SD BUTTON SD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

  • The Now TV app was one of the first main UK television services to appear on the Apple TV. In fact, even to this date, none of the main British FTA networks have found their way onto one of the world’s most popular STBs, so this does give Now TV some credential.

    The app itself looks like so many other Apple TV apps, black and to the point. But despite that, it still manages to cover many (but not all) of the bases.

    On the positive note, the catch-up and on-demand side of the coin works pretty much as good as you can expect from an Apple TV app. The user interface is simple to use, as long as you remember exactly what you are watching. Finding content is fine, but there is no real episode management to speak of. There is no time bar to indicate which episodes are incomplete, and nothing to show where you stand in a series. I have to admit, this is rather disappointing, and very poor of Now TV to  implement this so poorly.

    FFW and REW are also rather basic, with no thumbnails to guide viewers to a specific spot, but once playback actually begins, this is where the Apple TV shines.

    Video quality for on-demand movies was simply stunning, with a tested bitrate averaging 3990kbps*. If there was one platform to show off the quality of Now TV’s streams, it would certainly be this one.

    NowTV Movies ATV 3990kbps

    Live playback works perfectly well once it has started, but changing channels is again far too complicated for what it should be. To move one channel up requires three key presses, two more than should be necessary.

    Video quality however is amongst the best we have seen on any platform, with an average bitrate of 3960kbps* (tested on Sky 1). I have to say, at quality like this, it is becoming increasingly hard to tell the difference between linear IPTV and satellite feeds.

    NowTV TV Live ATV 3960kbps

    It is just a pity that Sky have not really thought through their episode management here. I really miss the My TV section, along with the ability to keep track of which series I am watching and what stage within. If these were available on the app, I would probably award this platform as my favourite for Now TV. The Video quality alone makes it worthwhile.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic video quality, live or on-demand.
    • Simple and clear UI.
    • Resume.

    Platform Cons:

    • No episode management.
    • No My List.
    • Average FFW and REW (no thumbnails).
    • No quick channel hopping.
    • No full EPG.

    (A Smart DNS or VPN service may be required to access this content outside of the UK)

    Movies BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16940″]

     

  • As is so often the case, the Xbox One app uses its own UI which differs sharply from the standard. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on how much you may like the Xbox’s horizontal nature, and how it functions with the myriad of input options.

    Firing up the app brings the user straight into the Movies section, with the Entertainment, Sports and My TV options easily available from the top menu (Which can be quickly toggled by using the LB and RB controller triggers).

    With both the Movies and Entertainment packages providing browsing options by a variety of means including Genres, Collections, Featured, Most Popular, Catch-up, Channels and more, there should be no problems finding content to watch.

    The My TV section is particularly handy to keep track of shows and episodes you are following. It allows quite comprehensive episode management, showing the currently watched episode of shows and series you are watching, and clicking on the episode will take you to a more detailed section where you can easily keep track of what stage you are in a season.

    Playback is pretty straight forward, though despite FFW & REW reaching speeds of 128x, I find it rather awkward to use with the controller, especially as it lacks thumbnail previews.

    Video quality is however excellent, with our tests averaging 3360kbps* for on-demand content. This is a good HD stream, which although not quite as good as what you can experience from the likes of Netflix, is still hardly something to complain about.

    NowTV Movies XboxOne 3360kbps

    Live content is also pretty impressive, with our tests on Sky 1 averaging 2780kbps*. This is not as high as what we saw on some other platforms such as the Apple TV, but visually I experienced no serious artefacts. What is a little better than other platforms is the way Now TV handles channel hopping on the Xbox One. Finally we have single button up and down channel changing by using the LT and RT controller triggers.

    NowTV Ent Live XboxOne 2780kbps

    Overall, this is one of the strongest Now TV platforms available. Although we couldn’t quite obtain the same video quality heights as seen on the Apple TV, it wins with far better episode management and great, easy channel hopping.


    Of course, one really cool thing about this app on the Xbox One is that there are no less than five different ways to control your browsing and viewing pleasure.

    Voice: How cool is this, you can tell Now TV to start directly from the Xbox One’s Home screen. In fact, if you pin your favourite shows to the Xbox Home screen, you can begin playback of an episode with only a couple of basic command, starting with for example, “Xbox go to Game of Thrones”. It is possible to pause, continue, stop, and browse television shows purely by voice, and it even works with fast forward and rewinding, but good luck for keyword searches. Voice control though can be finicky. When it works, it does so with grace and style and really makes it seem like the future is here to stay. But it is almost guaranteed to fail as soon as you try to demonstrate it to someone else, especially those critical of tech.

    Motion Control: On the other hand, if you prefer you can sit on your sofa and wave your hands around like an idiot. It may work, but it probably won’t. On that note, at one point it confused my foot resting on the table for the palm of my hand and tried to follow it around.

    Xbox Controller: In most cases, the Xbox One controller will be the obvious choice. The only real downsides here are the awkward shape requiring a two-handed operation, and the problem it will go into hibernation after a while – still, if you urgently need to pause, you can always yell it out. Otherwise the controller is a pleasant way to navigate and control Netflix, and at least for navigating, one of the best – especially since it offers single-button channel hopping.

    SmartGlass: I had been rather excited to see how the Xbox One would improve on their SmartGlass after all the hype Microsoft dished out. The reality is quite disappointing. There are no true second-screen activities here, with the only use being a thoughtlessly designed remote.

    Programmable remote: As a last resort, you can always turn to a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony, and return back to the retro pleasures of horizontal one-hand sofa laziness. Once set up, it will work just as a good remote should, but be prepared for a lot of hair-loss during configurations, especially if you are competing with voice control to also switch on your Xbox and TV.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent video quality.
    • One button channel hopping.
    • Episode Management.
    • Resume.
    • My List.
    • Great choice of controlling methods.

    Platform Cons:

    • Controller requires two hands and can fall asleep.
    • Non-standard UI.

    (A Smart DNS or VPN service may be required to access this content outside of the UK)

    Movies BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

     

  • Chromecast is a great, cheap way to get your Now TV content onto pretty much any HDMI television, simply by plugging the tiny dongle into the back of your television. As the stick doesn’t actually have an operating system of its own, just use the review section from the iOS or Android tabs in reference to navigating the service.

    Essentially, the Chromecast concept is rather simple. You simply use the Now TV app on a mobile device, but once Chromecast is activated, any playback will occur on your TV instead of the mobile screen. The Chromecast stick initiates the stream, so the mobile device can be used for anything else, switched off or even leave the network and this won’t affect playback at all. For this reason, unless the Chromecast’s power originates from the TV’s USB port, this means it is possible to switch off the TV but leave Now TV’s live streams continuing without the user being aware. Something which could be a problem for those with bandwidth caps.

    Also, it can be a little confusing at times if more than one person is watching TV. After-all, when a normal TV is on, everyone knows the remote that controls it, but it is possible to forget who started the stream, with which mobile phone and what app is actually being used.

    All that aside, it works pretty well for the most part.

    What I like about Now TV is that they are constantly upgrading their service. New platforms, new features, and even improved video quality. It wasn’t that long ago that that Now TV’s video quality topped out at standard definition at best, and that was including the movie channels. These days we see a pretty decent 720p HD stream for both on-demand and many live channels. Actually, it was only a few weeks ago that the Sports channels were tested at 720p, but the Entertainment channels only 480p. It seems that has improved as well, as the following live test was performed on Sky 1 which averaged 2790kbps* when chromecasting to a TV.

    NowTV Ent Live Chromecast 1790kbps

    We also tested an on-demand movie, which averaged 3365kbps*, and in both cases the video quality appeared very good.

    NowTV Movies Chromecast 3365kbps

    For more details on the Chromecast stick, check out our review here.

    Platform Pros:

    • Very good 720p streams.
    • Low cost way to stream to a TV.

    Platform Cons:

    • No UI of its own.
    • Can be confusing at times.
    • Possible to leave streams on.

    (Access Now TV via Chromecast outside of the UK may require a good Smart DNS service, as well as static routing configurations on your router to bypass Google’s own DNS servers)

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

     

  • When I first tried out Now TV’s Movie Pass back in 2013, I was bitterly disappointed. At that time, they had serious issues with video quality and a very limited platform base. However, both of those problem areas have since made great strides.

    Now that things have significantly improved, Now TV may appear at first sight to be a similar service as Netflix or Amazon Prime, although in reality it is a bit more like Hulu Plus mixed in with Sling TV.

    Working within a first pay TV window, Now TV’s Movie Pass can provide the subscriber with blockbuster films months before they arrive on the UK competition, and above anything else, this will be most likely the deciding factor. The question then, is it really worth the £9.99 monthly fee? A Netflix subscription will cost slightly less, but provide a much larger film library which also includes plenty of television series.

    But you will never get access to new release films anywhere near as early as you would with Now TV. If watching a lot of new release movies is something that occurs frequently during the calendar month, then the £9.99 may go quite far. Keep in mind that many of these films can not even be rented from other PPV sources like iTunes.

    Then again, many television shows available on the Entertainment Pass are not available via any other streaming services either, whether that is Netflix, Amazon Instant Prime or even Hulu Plus. But, this does come as a separate monthly fee of £6.99.

    If you are going to invest in Now TV, it is almost certainly worth watching through some device which allows 720p HD on your main TV (see technical details below). Although Now TV doesn’t yet support anywhere near as wide a range of platforms as Netflix, the fact they supply their own box for only £10 to own is why they score so well on the Device Availability mark.

    If you just don’t mind waiting for a new release to hit the second pay TV window, then grab instead a Netflix subscription. It will save you some cash, and if you really can’t wait for the odd specific film, you can always find an alternative PPV source to rent it and maybe still be under budget. Then again, it may not be too bad to consider a bit of mixing and matching. Combine a Now TV subscription with Netflix or Amazon Prime to get both a great selection of new films and an amazing collection of older ones plus television for around £14-£19 per month.

    Pros:

    • Very good quality 720p streams on selected platforms.
    • Great new release movies from the first pay TV window that are not available anywhere else.
    • Cross platform compatibility (e.g. resume feature)
    • My TV acts almost as a handy Watchlist.
    • Entertainment package offers good range of catch-up and on-demand.
    • Live TV streams from the Movies or Entertainment passes.

    Cons:

    • Only SD quality streams on many platforms.
    • Smaller collection of films than Netflix or Prime.
    • Live streams are only in SD.
    • No Queue options to remember films to watch in the future.

    Movies BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Technical Details:

    • 720p HD possible on PS3, Xbox 360, Roku UK, Now TV Box.
    • SD only via web, Android, iOS and YouView.
    • Live Movie channels include: Sky Movies Premiere, Sky Movies Showcase, Sky Movies Comedy, Sky Movies Action & Adventure, Sky Movies Family, Sky Movies Crime &Thriller, Sky Movies Drama & Romance, Sky Movies Sci-Fi & Horror, Sky Movies 007, Sky Movies Select and Sky Movies Disney
    • Live TV channels include: Sky1, Sky Arts, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Fox, Gold and MTV

    Log:

    14.07.2013: Review published. Score 6.6: Great new release films.

    18.10.2013: Updated due to much improved pricing. Score increased to 7.

    08.11.2013: Updated to include new Entertainment package. Score increased to 7.2.

    20.08.2014: Updated to include Tank Top TV listings.

    11.09.2014: Updated NowTV box app. Score updated to 7.3.

    28.10.2014: Updated to new pricing.

    27.03.2015: Major update adding Xbox One, Android, Apple TV and Chromecast reviews. Score increased to 7.4 due to improved platform and video quality.

    *Average bitrate based on multiple tests and are subject to issues resulting from my geographic location and available bandwidth at the time.

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