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

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 (2:59 am) - Score 11,728

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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Phil says:

    lol, that greed sky for you.

  2. Would be nice if they just subbed out live program they can’t play for something they have the license to…

    I.e. Simpsons for Yonderland or something like that.. Surely people care about not being left in the dark and if there is an alternative then that’s an OK compromise…

  3. Rupees Burdoch says:

    I was very disappointed to discover Allo Allo! was unavailable on NOW TV. I demanded a refund because it totally ruined the reason I signed up in the first place.

    For reals? No. I’m joking. All the amazing first-run content you get on NOW TV nobody is going to care about a handful of old re-runs that are missing. Seriously NOW TV is 1000000x better than Netflix and LoveFilm.

  4. Mark Jackson says:

    As per the article’s example, it’s not just re-runs. New series too.

    1. Rupees Burdoch says:

      All the important content is available on the NowTV. All the blockbuster series from Sky Atlantic (Mad Men, Scandal, etc.) and Sky 1 (More Than Meets The Pie, Trollied, etc.) I honestly don’t think a handful of shows being missing is worthy of a story here.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      It’s several “handfuls”, most of which aren’t even listed on the linked page until they’re about to be aired, and we’re talking about major series like The Simpsons, South Park and America’s Next Top model etc. You couldn’t even watch the “Oscars 2014: Red Carpet Live” on Sky Living the other night.

      But I’m sure you know this as your IP suggests you’re not a NOW TV/Sky bod but are perhaps working an alternative angle to be deliberately counter-productive on the PR side. Either that or you’re just really.. really bad at PR.

    3. BT Investor says:

      Mark has already validated that I don’t work for Sky. My IP address proves it. I’m just an enthusiastic consumer who happens to love Sky entertainment packages. Of course I know a small minority of people will be upset that they missed out enjoying the very eventful and unforgettable red carpet extravaganza during the Oscars. But I expect most of the few upset will forgive Sky because of the vast library of OD premium content they can’t see anywhere else.

  5. Head Dick says:

    Im sorry Mr Rupees Burdoch, I didnt realise you were the B all and end all of Important content on Now TV ??? Now I must watch what you say …Ha [remove abuse]

  6. phil says:

    Rupees Burdoch is probably from the sky err Now TV PR team trolling to make things better than they are.. Im happy with being away from sky, no-where near now-tv biggest bunch of rip-off thieves that think theyre oooh so superior having significant markey power yet the Dept Of Culture doesnt take action on them.. hmm how IS the tory war chest ££ btw?

    1. Raindrops says:

      I think it is far more likely he is a well known troll here.

  7. Web Dude says:

    At £9.99 the NowTV box is good value, even if it is only being used for 4oD, Demand 5, and iPlayer (no live streams). You may need an ‘active’ NowTV subscription to start with, but a free trial may work (I had a free trial and then a code on the web gave me 4 months at £1/month). TuneIn radio player is available, for podcasts from many services (eg Which? and Guardian’s weekly Technology pods) plus CNET and TWiT video clips and so on. I don’t have a Spotify premium a/c at present but the box supports that too.

    For me, I think I will be getting a second box, with a few months of the Entertainment pack, if only to watch all the ‘box sets’ (24, Bones, etc) that are available. I don’t have a TV licence and would not, therefore, wish to stream anything “live” anyway, but the NowTV box fills in where the Freesat box has only iPlayer and ITV player, but nothing yet for 4oD or Demand 5.

    Once subscription to NowTV ends, box can still run the other apps. All I’m looking for now is an HDMI to audio lead for my amp so I can put on a 2 hour podcast to play and switch the TV off. Just getting the box now makes me consider the Roku device too, but knowing Sky paid perhaps half for my box is quite satisfying, for all the free content it provides with no subscription at all…

    1. Kevin Parr says:

      Left Uk two years ago to live in Euro Land.Been building our house so no tv at all until now.I have missed another series of Downton Abbey and want good old British shows. Trouble is they have moved way the connecting satalite over Spain now.No picture at all on my screen. Been told I can have a box and watch Sky Tv from internet at a small enough outlay and a yearly payment of £100. Trouble is the internet over here is dodgy stuff indeed and hard to find a good supplier in a third world nation. Any one out there know a way around my problems?

    2. Eman says:

      @ Kevin Parr (not sure how you’re going to get notified of this, but here goes):

      Get a satellite internet connection. Unfortunately, these cost LOADS, and even then have bandwidth, latency and usage allowance issues, serious ones.

      A better option, might be to bulk-purchase some bandwidth / equipment / infrastructure (!) for your local village / area, and share the cost. Yes, that’s a major project, but if the internet is really that poor in your adopted area, then who else is going to improve it?

      If people don’t care about internet in your area (due to already having a fine lifestyle as it is), then maybe I’ll come and consult myself for free… it sounds like my kind of area to visit!

      You could become a local hero, who knows?

  8. Gavin James says:

    Thanks for the articleMark. For those who live outside UK and want to access Now TV , you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.

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