Sky has unveiled its “no commitment, no contract” internet service Now TV.
Unlike Sky Go, which is a way for existing Sky users to access content on mobiles and other devices, Now TV is aimed at the 13 million UK households who don’t have a Sky subscription.
Now TV is therefore the first major step from Sky in reaching out beyond satellite broadcasting. Once you log in and pay, streaming begins almost instantly. There is a free 30 day trial for first-time users.
The service launches on July 17 with the full line-up from the Sky Movies channels on tap or around 1,000 on-demand titles from the Sky Store.
You can use it on a ‘Pay and Play’ (pay as you go) basis, choosing from classic movies for 99p per viewing, or recent films at up to £3.49. New premieres are available from Fridays, coinciding with the satellite channels.
There is also a Sky Movies Pass option for unlimited viewing from the Sky Movies channels, which costs £15 for a month.
Sports and entertainment content, such as series from Sky One, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic and Sky Arts, will be added in a few months’ time.
Now TV works on Windows and Apple desktop and laptop computers, iPhone, iPad, Xbox 360, the new YouView set-top box and certain Android smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S2 and Nexus.
Full compatibility details can be found on the Now TV website and more will be added at a later date. It can be accessed via broadband internet and 3G connections (subject to data usage caps).
The system uses adaptive bitrates to optimise the stream for the screen size. At launch, Sky is not offering a high definition resolution, though Sky Movies Pass owners will soon be able to watch in 720p quality on the Xbox.
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A similar offering is also due to appear on the Roku media streaming box and Sony’s PlayStation3 in the near future.
Sky hinted that HD may roll out on a wider basis but at the outset the focus is on providing an ‘uninterrupted service’ rather than one that gets stuck mid-way through a movie due to buffering issues.
A spokesperson said that Sky was also looking at developing Now TV for various Smart TV apps. As with Sky Go, there are no 3D films on Now TV at the moment.
The Xbox interface can be controlled by gesture and voice if you have Kinect.
Similar to the Sky Go app, video output from iPhones and iPads is not enabled, but you can connect a laptop or PC to a telly and watch Now TV.
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With Now TV’s Pay and Play option you can ‘reserve’ a film for up to 30 days. Once you start watching, you have 48 hours to finish it. You are able to resume playback, even on a different device, as it’s controlled by a personalised login. Parental controls can also be set.
The service is streaming only, not download to keep, but Sky said it’s a possibility for the future, perhaps in connection with digital purchasing platforms such as UltraViolet.