While the launch of Sky Glass marks the first time that you can get all of the same channels as with a satellite-based package, only streamed from the internet, it’s not the first streaming service Sky has.
Availability and installation
NOW is a streaming service in much the same vein as Netflix or Disney+. That is, it’s available as an app for a variety of devices, including the Amazon Fire Stick, on Android and iOS, and most smart TVs. Once you’ve signed up for the service, you can log in on any compatible device.
Sky Glass is different, both from a service perspective and how it works. While NOW is available on lots of devices, Sky Glass is available only on Sky’s own hardware. Primarily, you get Sky Glass built into an Ultra HD TV, paying monthly for the service and the hardware. Once you have one TV, you can add the Sky Stream puck to upgrade a regular TV to the same service.
One of the big differences in the services is the range of channels available. Sky Glass is a complete TV service. Via streaming it offers the full range of channels that are available to Sky Q customers, including all of the Freeview channels and every single Sky channel (depending on your subscription, of course).
In addition, Sky Glass lets you integrate Netflix into your package, and you can also log into your existing Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video accounts, creating playlists that pull in content from any and all of these services.
NOW is really a way of getting some Sky content on a range of devices. Depending on the subscription you get, you get most of the main channels, including Sky Atlantic, Sky History, the cinema channels and sports channels. Here’s the full list of Sky NOW channels.
With NOW, you don’t get any of the Freeview channels, nor do you get the full range of Sky channels. Think of it as a cheaper way of getting some of the premium content from Sky, rather than the full range, and you get the picture.
Both services have a back catalogue of on-demand boxsets, too. With NOW the range is more limited, as you can only view the content for the channels available; Sky Glass has more channels and, therefore, more on-demand content.
Sky Glass takes and builds on the Sky Q interface. It’s designed to be your sole interface into all of the entertainment that you have, with a full TV guide, a playlist of shows that you want to watch (pulled, as we mentioned, from all of the on-demand services you’re logged into). It’s a slick and accomplished effort, delivering what you’d expect from Sky only without the hassle of having a satellite dish installed.
NOW is a rather more basic service. You can see what’s on live and you can search for shows to watch but it’s a little more basic in its approach. Rather, NOW feels more like a way of getting access to the content that you know you want to watch; Sky Glass aids discovery across a wider range of content.
Sky Glass uses a completely different streaming service, broadcasting the regular version. Depending on the subscription that you take out, you can get 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos sound. In effect, what you got on Sky Q you can now get on Sky Glass.
NOW uses a more basic streaming service. With the standard package, you get regular 720p footage, but you can upgrade to the Boost pack, which gives you 1080p footage with 5.1 sound. That’s better than the basic, but Sky Glass should easily outdo NOW.
Sky Glass has adverts in its programmes and catch-up. NOW has ads in live-streamed content, but on-demand content has adverts injected unless you pay for Boost, in which case you can watch without.
Offline and remote viewing
With both services, if your internet goes down, you can’t view any content live. Sky Glass does have a Freeview tuner built-in to the TVs that allows you to watch free-to-air content.
With NOW, you can download some content to watch offline on Android and iOS devices. Sky Glass offers the Sky Go app for offline viewing, complete with the ability to download shows on iOS and Android.
Where NOW has a slight advantage is that you can sign in to your account from a wider range of devices. So, go and stay in an Airbnb, for example, and you’ll likely find a smart TV or other device that you can use (or you could simply travel with a Fire TV Stick).
Sky Glass doesn’t let you do this, so you have to use Sky Go, which has more limited support: it’s available on mobile devices, computers and select games consoles, but not on Fire TV or smart TVs.
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Both services are sold under different subscription plans. NOW consists of passes, which run for a month, that don’t tie you into a contract. The Entertainment pass (Sky Atlantic and so on) costs £9.99 per month, Cinema is £9.99 a month and Sports costs £33.99 a month (or £9.99 for a day pass). You have to pay £5 extra for Boost to get channels in HD.
Sky Glass includes HD as standard, with packages costing from £39 a month including a £13-a-month payment for a 43-inch 4K TV. You’ll pay more for larger TVs, movies and sports, and are tied into a longer contract.
Prices aren’t directly comparable, as Sky Glass gets you loads more channels, better quality streams and a slicker interface.
Sky Glass vs NOW – Early verdict
We’ll have to wait until we’ve reviewed Sky Glass to give you an in-depth verdict. That said, at this point, there are some clear differences between the services.
Sky Glass is really an all-in-one package that gets you a TV with Dolby Atmos built-in, plus all of the channels that you’d expect from Sky. It’s aimed at people that want quality and breadth of content all without having to have a satellite dish installed.
NOW is a more limited service. Think of it as a cheaper way to get premium Sky content, allowing you to dip in and out, so you can subscribe when there’s stuff you want to watch and unsubscribe when there’s not.
In short, for simplicity and keeping costs down, NOW works; for those that want the best quality and a full TV service delivered over the internet, Sky Glass is better.