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Sky’s Internet Based NOW TV Service Hampered by UK Rights Restrictions

Monday, Mar 3rd, 2014 (2:59 am) - Score 11,880

Customers that spent £4.99 a month to purchase the Entertainment Pass for Sky’s broadband-based NOW TV service, which is supposed to include access to 10 of their top pay-tv channels (e.g. Sky Atlantic, Sky 1, Discovery etc.), have been left disappointed because many of the shows are blocked due to “Rights Restrictions“.

The unlimited web-based Internet TV and Movie (video streaming) service was intended to be one of Sky’s answers to rival platforms, such as Netflix. Customers require a minimum broadband speed of 2.5Mbps and a reliable wifi link in order to use the service, which makes use of a modified Roku box.


However the product only became really interesting when, in October 2013, Sky suddenly announced that its new Entertainment Pass would give subscribers LIVE and on demand access to the following TV channels: Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, Sky Arts 1, Discovery, MTV, Comedy Central, GOLD, Disney and FOX.

But what some of those early adopters seem to have overlooked is the small print which states, “Not all content available on catch up or live channels“. Meanwhile everybody else will find out about this when trying to access popular shows, such as the The Simpsons (Sky 1) or South Park (MTV), only to be confronted by a message that reads: “unfortunately rights restrictions mean that this programme is not currently available to watch on your device.”

Customers who choose to dig deeper will soon come across a page (unavailable shows on live channels) that claims to list all of the content you can’t access. Sadly this list changes on a daily basis and is thus not a complete summary. On top of that, and contrary to what Sky told us, some of the restricted shows (e.g. America’s Next Top Model) do still get mentioned on their website.

restricted now tv

NOW TV Statement

We offer a large range of movies and TV shows to watch live and on demand on a broad range of devices. Sometimes, we’re unable to broadcast a movie or TV show through Live TV on some of our devices, due to rights restrictions. As a result some programmes will be blocked from being shown.

The vast majority of our movies and TV shows aren’t affected and we’re working hard in the background on negotiating our rights so we can bring you more of the best movies and TV shows on offer.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused but can assure you that there are still lots of great movies and TV shows available for you to lose yourself in.

ISPreview.co.uk has attempted to gain some further clarity from Sky about the situation but they didn’t wish to furnish us with an official comment, although in amongst some angry posts on their forum we did discover the following morsel.


A Member of the NOW TV Team said:

NOW TV doesn’t own the movies or TV shows that you can watch. We do our best to negotiate with content creators, studios and partners to obtain the rights to movies and TV shows, in order to show them online for your viewing. These rights often allow us to show certain series or episodes for a limited amount of time, with a set expiration date. We try to keep these shows for as long as possible, so I assure you it’s not a way to get you to sign up to Sky.”

If ever there was an advert for Internet piracy then not getting the content you’ve paid for and expected to receive is definitely at the top of that list. At the very least any primary restrictions like this should be clearly stated and not swept under the proverbial carpet of small print. Blocking major shows is no small matter.

In the meantime NOW TV can probably expect to see more messages like these from disgruntled customers: One user said, “I also wish I read the small print lol. Cant watch anything that you would by sky for, simpsons etc. So whats the point” and another added, “The content I subscribed for isn’t available – and this isn’t made at all clear before you buy!“. Alternatively, there’s the classic “WHAT A RIP OFF“.

However it should be said that NOW TV isn’t the only live Internet-based streaming service to suffer such restrictions and even the BBC’s iPlayer can sometimes prevent certain movies from being shown online when you try to use the live channel streams.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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