For many people in the UK, Sky TV is a staple. With 23.9 million subscribers, It’s a cornerstone of over 1/4 of the UK’s 70M citizens. Though, as more people cut the cord, Sky has found itself in a position where it needs to adapt to the marketplace. Their response? Now TV, a patchwork service that is in dire need of an upgrade lest people forgo it in favour of Disney+STAR.
In this article, I want to look at how Now TV can make some key improvements. I’ll discuss what I feel are the issues with the service and how they can be fixed.
Now TV is not cheap. At times, it feels like the cost of Now TV subsidises the cost of Sky’s satellite offering for those consumers but, in actual fact, if someone were to get everything that Now TV offered (Entertainment, Movies, Sports, Boost, Hayu and Kids), it would cost them:
Total: £67.95/month. That’s an incredibly high outlay and ask from potential subscribers when most services offer a greater catalogue for substantially cheaper.
Comparison to Sky TV
Building a comparable bundle on Sky, it works out to £60/month. The difference? With Sky, you get access to a DVR, you get access to hundreds of channels, access to a stronger on-demand catalogue, and the opportunity to upgrade to better features. £96/year seems like nothing but, when you think about it, you could get Sky TV and Disney+ for a whole year for the price of the best Now TV experience.
Now TV lacks severely in the features department. Its apps are broken; the UI is clunky; and the overall value proposition is poor. If we look at the next most expensive streaming service in the UK, Netflix, we see that Now TV lacks in: 4K content, profiles, automatic device management, and overall usability.
For the longest time, content on Now TV was capped at 720p; that was until last year (2020) when they decided to up it to 1080p, but for an extra monthly fee. When Disney+, Amazon Prime and Netflix all offer 1080p from as low as £5.99/month, it seems ridiculous that someone paying £64.95/month would be capped at 720p.
Another thing those services have? Profiles. Now TV enables you to watch on two screens at a time, but Netflix and Disney+ allow up to 4 screens at a time. Their way of doing this? Profiles. It is baffling that a service would exist in 2021 without having some form of profile system to help wade through the watchlists and not mess up another friend or family member’s viewing routine.
The lack of profiles probably comes as a result of another fault of the service: manual device management. Most other services have a FIFO method (First In; First Out) for device management. Basically, the devices you sign into with that account are placed in a priority queue; once you exceed the maximum number of devices allowed by the service, the first ones signed into are the first ones signed out of. Simples. On the other hand, Now TV insists that you manually remove devices. And, it’s not like this is an oversight because Now TV has made it so that you have a limited number of device swaps each month.
And, finally, the overall usability of the apps is downright horrendous. There are so many flaws; from offline content, to general buffering issues, to the UI itself. The app is unintuitive and lacks cohesion; some buttons are available on some platforms, the search command changes dependent on the platform and, perhaps the most egregious thing: you literally cannot stream the site on a website. No, instead, you have to use a desktop app which is a web-based system so there’s no room for downloading/offline viewing, it’s literally just a player.
How Can Now TV Be Fixed?
The first step: profiles. Get rid of the hangups around people sharing the account; it’s the way of streaming now anyway. By having profiles, it opens up the app to a much wider audience and may even justify increasing the price because more people can enjoy any one account.
The next step: 4K. It is completely bonkers that Now TV has no 4K content despite Sky having this for about 4 years. I get that there may be bandwidth concerns but, at some point, the company does have to eat some of the costs rather than passing those onto subscribers by way of an additional boost subscription.
After that, change the apps. Make them more dynamic to help showcase the content on offer. Given that Sky is focusing a lot on originals, and that Disney’s hope is to have its shows premiere on Disney+ from now on, Sky’s UI needs to be optimised to help retain subscribers.
I think that the day of reckoning is nigh for Now TV. As Disney begins to shift most of its content to its robust Disney+STAR platform, and HBO Max appears to be gearing up for a much wider expansion, the overall value proposition for Now TV begins to diminish by the second.
But, these are my thoughts; I’d love to know yours. What do you think; do you like Now TV, do you hate it? Let me know in the comments or by following me (@StreamingBuffer) and Josh (@JoshM_Jones) on Twitter!
Until then, happy streaming!
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