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Sky halts Plex side-loading on Now TV boxes by nixing developer mode

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Now TV Box 19

Sky has disabled the ‘developer mode’ on its £10 Now TV boxes to prevent users side-loading apps that could be used to stream illegal content.

In a blog post on the Now TV forums (spotted by Engadget) the company explained the quiet update was designed to halt piracy.

“The latest update has been designed to safeguard the device from piracy and illegal streaming of content; therefore it will disable the use of unofficial third party software or apps,” community manager Karl-F wrote.

“This will not affect your ability to watch NOW TV or download supported apps through the Channel Store.”

The Now TV box, of course, is just a re-branded Roku designed to promote Sky’s on demand streaming platforms alongside terrestrial platforms like iPlayer and 4oD.

Related: Now TV vs Roku 2

However, a small community of users had chosen to enact developer mode and install apps like the Plex Media Centre, opening the box up to a much wider range of content.

The revoking of that right has left some users (who, let's not forget, forked out a whopping ten quid for the box) rather angry.

“Well unless you can confirm Plex will be available in the app store then it's definitely goodbye Now TV,” wrote Raevelyn. “I’ll likely invest in a proper Roku box, but i wont be subscribing to Now TV on it. That's me done!”

Others pointed out that you could still side-load on “proper” Rokus and pledged their loyalty to the manufacturer.

The Now TV box still represents solid value for customers simply seeking a bit of catch-up telly with on-demand access to the football, or new movie releases.

However, it lacks access to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime and does so by design.

Is Sky within its rights to revoke access to the dev mode? Or are customers right to demand access to use the box in any way they like? let us know in the comments below.

Cousto

March 16, 2017, 9:48 pm

Another act of desperation by Sky. Hurry up and die.

Apis Bull

March 17, 2017, 8:40 am

I always use it to load the developers USB drive support. I wonder if it will disable ones that are previously set ?

Kris Stobbs

March 17, 2017, 9:31 am

The "fix" doesn't work. Box still updates.

Michelle Tierney Nugent

March 17, 2017, 12:06 pm

I lost plex from mine. Would love to get it back!!!

Shaddow

March 17, 2017, 4:05 pm

Bring back our dev mode, or put Plex on the store Now.

Fil Scibetta

March 17, 2017, 4:28 pm

I am extremely annoyed and disappointed with Now TV. I have three of the "little buggers": two white and one black and was streaming all my media around the house using a sideloaded Plex appication. Either they should reinstate sideloading via developer mode, or make the Plex application available through their store.

John Mc

March 18, 2017, 12:14 am

How the hell will this reduce pirating? Are they thick. If we are streaming pirated movies to out TVs via Plex, we already have the bloody files on our computers!

I just wasted a whole evening trying to figure out how to fix the missing Plex app before I found this. I have always hated sky - now even more so!

John Mc

March 18, 2017, 12:16 am

Is this even legal?

chaos

March 18, 2017, 10:17 am

Fair enough, some of the unofficial plex addons give access to pirated content, sky invest heavily in the broadcast rights to these titles and are entitled to protect their investments, and the box is only a tenner you've hardly been ripped off! Think how cheap a Raspberry Pi is, add openelec and you get all your (legal or otherwise) streaming back for under thirty quid!

Sausage Don 1988

March 18, 2017, 7:30 pm

Bastards. Just went to watch a film and my plex app is MIA. Twats. Death to sky.

ukthewall

March 18, 2017, 9:23 pm

Well, this is good news for my Raspberry Pi, my NowTV box is resigned to the bin, and raspberry is happy in it's place. I refuse to replace with Roku they're as much at fault as Sky, the raspberry is the next best solution, better interface too. Stop piracy my backside, if I wanted to pirate content, this wouldn't stop me, hell my PCs have all had the ability to connect to a TV for eons, if I need to watch pirated tv, I'll plug one in, in reality all this does is guarantee I'll not bother with NowTV passes.

Tim Apps

March 19, 2017, 12:51 pm

SKY have nixxed the Developer Mode for no other reason than they can.
It is no more than one could expect from SKY and their perceived tyrannical grip on media.
The posturing that it reduces piracy is both inaccurate and nonsensical.
There are plenty of alternative ways to get content on your television.
If you blew a tenner or so on the NOW TV to sideload PLEX then lose that thought, perhaps even lose NOW TV and swap it for a more conducive platform such as ROKU, FIRE or even APPLE TV.
If you're any kind of geek, you could use a Raspberry PI/OpenElec...
So stop bitching about what you can't fix and channel yourself into fixing what you can!

Sammygamgee

March 19, 2017, 5:11 pm

Legally Sky cannot advertise and sell a box on the basis of it having a development facility, then remove it once they have your money ... if they want to downgrade the service they should refund users their money

Harry B

March 19, 2017, 7:39 pm

They don't advertise it on the basis of it having a development mode. They advertise it as a box for watching Sky TV. The fact that it was hackable was not part of their sales pitch.

Martie Michaels

March 19, 2017, 10:26 pm

I suspect the "update" is stored by the box before it is updated, so removing internet access wont help.

No Ta

March 20, 2017, 10:51 am

If you have the white Now TV box go to app store , photo & video and install playto .

It seems it let's your stream from your phone, tablet and some servers ;)

Terry Parker

March 20, 2017, 2:29 pm

You all know it is easy to stream sky tv on any internet device , you only need to go to you tube and they show you how , you could be up and running in no time

Terry Parker

March 20, 2017, 2:36 pm

Oh one thing i forgot to mention , sky charges £6.99 a month for the entertainment package , shop around you be surprised what you can get as i got two months for only £4.49 a saving of £2.50 a month

Mike Christie

March 22, 2017, 1:32 pm

Given that the whole point of the exercise is to stop you using Plex that seems unlikely. Cheap box, subsidised no doubt by Sky, no longer lets you watch stuff it never officially supported in the first place that is often stuff Sky would rather you pay them for. Hardly worth crying about, besides there's no shortage of alternatives. There's a Plex client for everything under the sun.

Mike Christie

March 22, 2017, 1:36 pm

How many of the comments here are basically whining that Sky don't want you using cheap boxes they're subsidising to avoid paying for content they provide at a charge. Jeez, some people are so entitled. I use Plex, but I understand Sky's position and I can't say I blame them. I have Plex clients installed on everything from phones to games consoles to desktop PCs. Its not like there's a shortage of alternatives. Complaining about the tenner the box cost when you're using it to get access to content that you'd normally pay many times that per month to watch is frankly pathetic.

Sean

March 26, 2017, 3:16 pm

The price is irrelevant. Sky sold a product - a contract was concluded - and now they change the rules. It is just another example of abusive companies desperate to try and squeeze money out of clients, just as HP and Microsoft have done. I'm pretty sure it will backfire though, since like others I will switch to a proper Roku and wont be paying Sky anything in future.

Sean

March 26, 2017, 3:23 pm

You sound like the Sky rep Mike Christie. Sure, Sky never supported it, but no one asks them to now either. We just expect them not to break in and steal what you bought from them: a cheap ROKU that allowed Plex and other applications. So long as people like you are willing to play along with their unreasonable actions, you can only expect more of the same.

Sean

March 26, 2017, 3:24 pm

Do Sky even care ?

robert whitaker

March 26, 2017, 9:33 pm

we have five of the little boxes spread around the house. one i only bought two weeks ago. we use them to watch from our media server via plex.
now only one of them works,
the developer mode has been removed.
so now they are all confined to the bin.
pay sky? i left sky years ago because they wanted a fortune from me each month (£110.00)

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