- Launches initially with Sky Movies, but content from Sky Sports, Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic to join in the future.
Sky has launched its new internet service NOW TV today. It will initially offer content from Sky Movies, promising new premieres every Friday, upto a year earlier than on other online film services, thus laying down the gauntlet on newcomer Netflix and Amazon's Lovefilm.
Described on the NOW TV website as being in beta testing, the new service is available on PC, Mac and some Android smartphones. iPhone and iPad users will be able to use the service within the next month. Likewise, the service will appear as an app on the new YouView platform, which will hit the shops within the next few weeks.
|Sky's NOW TV has gone live - with movies only to begin with|
Viewers are able to watch live movies from Sky's Movie channels, including Sky Movies Premier, Sky Movies Action & Adventure and Sky Movies Indie, or start watching a film of their own choice on demand. A "community forum" is at hand to support users on subjects including browser compatibility and account and billing enquiries.
Simon Creasey, Director of Now TV commented on the launch of the new service that "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."
In line with this statement, Sky has confirmed that content from Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic will join the service in due course. Sky Sport's coverage of the Barclays Premier League will also join NOW TV soon.
NOW TV will initially target those viewers who don't currently have pay TV, especially those who do not want to commit to contracts. It will also target those who can't get access to satellite and Sky's traditional service. The launch is not without issues, though: earlier this month, Hong Kong telecoms company PCCW launched legal action due the use of the word "Now", which is a trademark for PCCW's UK subsidary. The outcome of the legal case is still understood to be pending.
Users can take up a 'pay as you play' option, offering film titles from between 99p and £3.49. Alternatively, a Sky Movies Pass, with unlimited access to the library of films on Sky Movies, is available for £15 a month. Users choosing the Sky Movies Pass will get a free 30-day trial.
Analysts see the new services as Sky's biggest move since it went into the business of providing broadband connections. It's inclusion on Freeview/IPTV hybrid service YouView will put further pressure on pay TV minnow Top Up TV, who are currently hanging on with a limited selection of sports content and - in comparison with NOW TV's promised future line up - a very limited and comparatively expensive download service.
However, NOW TV's promise of live Premiership football on Sky Sports via YouView, together with BT's intention to offer its Premiership football matches from 2013 on YouView may make YouView a serious proposition for the discerning football fan. Although this may seem odd, as Sky would normally be expected to keep its satellite platform propped up with premium content, it is important to note that given the high cost of the 2013-16 Premiership rights, Sky has to put platform loyalties aside to reach as many subscribers as possible. And if NOW TV via YouView is a way to do so, so be it.