So you’ve watched everything on Netflix and Amazon Prime. What now? It’s time for NOW TV. Here’s everything you need to know, including NOW TV channels, Sky Sports access, what the Entertainment Pass offers – plus how to get free NOW TV.
Sky’s very own online streaming service offers top-quality TV but without the box, satellite dish or having to sign up to a lengthy contract. Sounds ideal, right? But what exactly is on offer, how do you get it and how much does it cost? Here’s everything you need to know about NOW TV in 2019.
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NOW TV channels – what can I watch and how much does it cost?
NOW TV essentially offers access to Sky’s on-demand catalogue, but, much like its full-fat satellite subscription packages, what you can watch depends on what you pay.
There are five passes – Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids, hayu and Sky Sports – which you pay for on a rolling monthly basis. As such you can cancel whenever you want to, but be aware that Sky will continue taking the money until you say stop.
You can opt for just a single pass or a combination, and each one provides access to a different range of shows.
At £3.99 a month, the Kids pass is one of the cheaper options – but if you decide your own bedtime and are no longer afraid of the dark, then there probably won’t be much here that’s aimed at you. For those with children, however, this pass offers access to six live channels, plus thousands of shows on-demand, including The Thundermans, iCarly, and Blaze and the Monster Machines (whatever they are).
What’s more, they’re ad-free, so you won’t have to worry about little Jemima and Saxon becoming indoctrinated by capitalism too early.
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Next up is the hayu pass which costs £3.99 a month. That pick gives you access to reality TV shows from the US, so if you absolutely need to watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians – we won’t judge you if you do – this is the channel to get.
And it’s not just KUWTK that the channel offers access to. There’s 5000 plus episodes of reality TV programming available including Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Project Runaway and Top Chef among many, many others.
The Entertainment pass offers over 300 series for £7.99 a month. It’s here that you’ll find most of the good stuff, because it includes shows from 11 Sky channels that includes Fox, Comedy Central, Viceland and the programmes Sky buys off HBO for Sky Atlantic. There’s even the odd good show from Sky One.
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Whether you’re looking to keep up with shows such as Westworld, The Walking Dead and the return of Game of Thrones, or catch up on classics you missed the first time round such as The Sopranos, Babylon Berlin and The Handmaid’s Tale, this pass gives you access to an ever-growing library of Netflix-challenging TV.
The Entertainment section is also the place to go to for a superhero fix, with titles such as Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow present. Look out for lesser-known but no less brilliant shows such as Gomorrah, Atlanta and Kidding, too, which are just a click away.
The only issue is that programmes come and go. Now that Game of Thrones has returned, you can watch the entirety of the series on the service. But be warned, the series is scheduled to leave on May 31, by which point there’s no telling when it might return to the service.
Thankfully the ability to download has been added, so you can put episodes on to an iOS or Android device and watch them offline. Not everything can be downloaded, but most shows are available. Just look for the download icon to the right of the episode info section.
Once downloaded you have 30 days to watch and you can view it as many times as you like for “48 hours before the end of the 30 days”. Downloads will be automatically deleted at the end of the 30 days or if you sign out of the NOW TV app on that device.
If you want to check whether a particular show is available, justwatch.com is your friend – although it won’t warn you if a programme is about to disappear.
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The most expensive monthly pass is Sky Cinema, which costs £11.99. However, if you want to stream recent movies without paying rental charges then it’s only here that you can access such big flicks soon after they stop showing at your local cinema.
A Sky Cinema pass will let you watch Blade Runner 2049, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Disney’s Coco (well, until Disney Plus launches at least), while also offering an excellent back catalogue that includes such classics as The Godfather, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Big.
Unlike Netflix and Amazon, whose film catalogues drastically drop off in quality once you get through the top layer, there’s real depth to Sky’s offering, with critically acclaimed cult indies sitting alongside family favourites, self-satisfied Oscar winners and easy-watchers to get you through a hangover.
Does NOW TV have Sky Sports?
Sky’s major selling point is its unmatched offering of Premier League football, Formula 1 and golf, so if there’s a big match or race on that you want to watch, a £8.99 Sky Sports Day Pass will provide access to Sky’s sports channels for, you’ve guessed it, 24 hours.
For an additional £6 you can have access for a whole week, while £33.99 gets you a month. Sky has also introduced the Mobile Month Pass so if you’re just watching on a device you can get access for a low price.
The monthly payment works like one of the other auto-renewing monthly passes – and while it sounds pricey, it’s cheaper than a regular Sky Q subscription that offers access to the sports channels. However, obviously you can’t record and there’s no access to any of the non-sports channels.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you’re relying on a decent internet connection. If it goes down during the big match, you won’t be able to pick up where you left off once it’s up and working again.
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How do I watch NOW TV?
You can access NOW TV via a web browser on your computer, your phone or tablet using the dedicated app, or from a huge range of devices from games consoles to streaming sticks and TVs.
NOW TV has its own range of hardware that you plug into your TV, including the tiny, voice-controlled NOW TV Smart Stick (£14.99) or the NOW TV Smart Box 4K (£49.99), which also includes a Freeview tuner and allows you to pause and rewind live TV as you can with Sky Q.
Smart TVs from Samsung and LG have a dedicated app – those from Sony and Panasonic are excluded for now – and you can also access NOW TV via a Google Chromecast, Apple TV, and all Roku streamers. That only really leaves Amazon’s Fire TV devices out in the cold.
Got a PS4 or Xbox One? Well you can access NOW TV through those devices, too, and if you have a PS3 or Xbox 360 kicking around then you can use them as very large NOW TV boxes as well. Unfortunately, Nintendo’s Switch is yet to join the fray.
In short, it’s almost more difficult to find a device that doesn’t support NOW TV than one that does.
Your account can be registered for use on up to five devices, plus you can watch on two of them at the same time, which opens up the possibility for a bit of sneaky account sharing. Not that we’d ever condone that sort of thing.
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Can I record NOW TV?
The short answer is no. NOW TV is built as a streaming platform so there’s no recording mode – and none of the NOW TV boxes have storage or timer functions anyway. So if you’re hoping to ditch your Sky box but still pile up the recordings while you’re away, you’re out of luck. If you’ve missed a show, your best bet is to use NOW TV’s catch-up features, which go back anywhere between seven to 30 days.
Can NOW TV do 4K?
And now we get to NOW TV’s other major caveat. No matter what platform you watch it on, output is limited to 720p HD, which would be fine if this was 2010, but it isn’t. At least it means the service doesn’t demand too much from your internet connection.
Considering Sky started broadcasting HD in the UK before any of the terrestrial channels, it’s something of a surprise that Now TV is limited in this way – but the idea is to keep something back for its ‘proper’ subscribers.
Netflix and Amazon don’t have that to worry about, hence the existence of their 4K tiers, but with Ultra HD now part of the package for Sky Q’s most high-rolling customers, you’d think Now TV could at least stretch to 1080p.
How to get NOW TV for Free: Get NOW TV for less
Apart from the Sports Pass, the other three all offer 14-day trials for free – but you’ll have a job getting through everything you want to watch in just two weeks.
If you’re a new customer then there are deals available if you sign up for multiple months in advance, rather than the rolling payment option, but after that you’ll revert back to the prices quoted above.
As long as you’re not a sports addict, the bottom line is that NOW TV is the cheapest way to access Sky’s excellent roster of films and TV shows – but only if you’re not an HD snob and you don’t want everything at once.
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