BSkyB (Sky Broadband) will tomorrow switch-on its new web-based internet TV and Film (video streaming) service, NOW TV, which aims to challenge Netflix and LOVEFiLM by making the media giants huge library of content available via a “wide range of broadband-connected devices” (computers and smartphones etc.).
The service, which does not require a contract and offers access through a choice of paying either £15 per month for “unlimited access” (Sky Movies Pass) or watching individual movies/tv shows on a pay-and-play basis (i.e. between 99p a pop for classic titles to £3.49 for more recent films), is initially available to PC, MAC and Android Smartphone/Tablet users.
Support for the Apple iPhone/iPad will follow “within the next month“, while XBox 360 and YouView users can expect to get access later this summer (PS3 and Roku support is planned for the future but Sky aren’t specific with any time-scales).
Customers who sign-up today will initially get instant access to over 1,000 titles from the Sky Movies channels (note: this reduces to over 600 if you take the “unlimited” Sky Movies Pass), which apparently includes “[up to five] new and exclusive premieres available each Friday, at least a year before any other online subscription service“. Sky also intend to add Sky Sports “before the end of the year” and other content (e.g. Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Sky Arts) in the very near future.
Simon Creasey, Director of NOW TV, said:
“NOW TV will bring more choice to UK consumers and an easy way to enjoy amazing movies, instantly. Following the explosion in internet-connected devices, we know that more and more people are looking for great content to watch over the web, and that’s where NOW TV comes in. Offering a new and exciting way to enjoy Sky Movies on some of the most popular internet-connected devices, NOW TV gives films fans everywhere a new choice.
As we move forward, NOW TV will get even bigger and better, with more devices and more platforms in the coming months. Customers can also look forward to the best live action from Sky Sports and great drama, comedy and entertainment from our Sky channels.”
Apparently new customers to the Sky Movies Pass will also benefit from a free 30-day trial. But what about quality? It’s understood that HD (720p) video streams will eventually become available to XBox360 and PS3 users, among others, although at launch only Standard Definition (SD) streams are allowed and Sky told us that a stable broadband ISP download speed of 2Mbps is required.
Naturally broadband users will need to make sure that their current package is both fast and flexible enough to stream lots of online video content, otherwise there’s always a risk of running up large excessive-use bills or finding your access restricted. But without an HD stream most people should be fine, although we hope Sky offers this soon.
UPDATE 17th July 2012
The NOW TV website is now live.
In addition we’ve also been discussing the lack of HD content with Sky, yet sadly a spokesperson for the operator would only say that, “We haven’t committed to this yet“.