Review: Now TV Box
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’ve probably seen one of the massive billboards for something called ‘Now TV‘ powered by Sky… Have to say, I don’t think the advertising has been very good at explaining what it actually is though, so I though i’d do a little review. Firstly…
How to access Now TV
You can get Now TV in 3 different ways:
1. Via the internet at nowtv.com or…
2. Via an app on your Playstation 3, XBox 360, YouView or Roku boxes.
3. By buying a Now TV Box for £10. This is a little box which connects to your TV via HDMI and your internet by wifi. It’s basically a Roku box, with some of the features switched off, but i’ll come on to that…
But… What actually is Now TV?…
Now TV is designed for people that do not currently have Sky, can’t put up a dish (or don’t want to fork out for a full Sky subscription), to give them access to a selected number of Sky’s channels and services. The services are split into 3 options – Sport, Movies and Entertainment (aka TV). Each has different payment options:
Sport – The sport pass costs £9.99 per day… That may seem pricey, but it does give you access to all 6 Sky Sports channels for 24hrs. Could be useful if there’s a footy match you want to watch, or some specific event that’s only on Sky Sports.
Movies – This gives you access to the large catalog of films that are available on demand to regular Sky customers with a movie subscription via their normal Sky+ box. Currently this includes movies such as Skyfall, Iron Man 3, Avengers, Wreck-it Ralph, a whole load of Disney films, plus a lot more. This cost £8.99 per month, and works pretty much like Lovefilm, or any other movie streaming service.
Entertainment – This is were things get a little more interesting… For £5.99 a month, this gives you access to live streams of Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic, Fox UK, Gold, Comedy Central, MTV, Sky Arts 1, Discovery, and The Disney Channel. It also give you a select number ‘catch up’ opportunities for some (not all) shows on those channels, along with a number of ‘tv box sets’. For example, you can currently watch the most recent episode of The Blacklist and Elementary which air on Sky Living, and The Walking Dead which airs on Fox. The latest 3 episodes of Blood Bloods and Boardwalk Empire from Sky Atlantic are also on there, among others. However, there is also the ‘box sets’, such as all 8 seasons of Desperate Housewives, all 7 seasons of Rescue Me, and all 4 seasons of Strike Back. So it’s a mixed collection of catch up, box sets, and live streaming, I’m guessing based on what Sky have got the rights to stream online.
Can the Now TV Box do anything else?
Yes. If you don’t have a smart tv, or console connected to the tv, the Now TV Box is a very cheap way of adding the BBC iPlayer, ITVPlayer, 4OD and Demand 5 to your telly. It also give you access to the Sky Store, so you can individually rent Sky’s premium movies, which include various exclusive releases. Additionally, it has a whole host of apps available from the Roku app store, including things like Facebook & Spotify. Annoyingly, what it does block access to is the Netflix and Lovefilm apps… My guess would be that’s because Sky are subsidising the boxes, and don’t want people buying them, not paying for a NowTV subscription, and just using it to stream their 2 main rivals… Or it could be because Roku want to keep those exclusive, and don’t want Sky selling, what is effectively exactly their box for a fifth of the price… Why would you buy the £49.99 Roku LT, when the Now TV Box is £10…
Ultimately, if you already have Sky via a Sky+ box, Now TV really isn’t going to give you anything new… However, if you’re on Virgin, and so can’t watch shows like Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire on Sky Atlantic, a £10 outlay for a Now TV box and £4.99 a month, might seem like a reasonable deal. Plus there is no contract, so you could actually just pay for it for a couple of months whilst a show you really want to see is airing.
It also maybe handy if you want some limited access to Sky in another part of the house or a kids room, but don’t want to fork out the £11.25 per month for Sky Multiscreen. Or, as you don’t actually have to have a Now TV subscription to use the other functions of the Now TV Box, if you don’t want Sky, Lovefilm or Netflix, you could use it just to add smart TV functions to your non-smart TV. Of course, if you do want Lovefilm, Netflix and Sky, you could always fork out £40 more, buy the Roku LT box, and download the Now TV app from the Roku store!
8/10 – A great, incredibly cheap alternative to a full blown Sky subscription
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.