Find out if this Sky alternative offers value for money.
I’ve been using NOW since 2014, at first as a complete replacement for Sky TV and more recently as an ad-hoc streaming service alongside the likes of Netflix and Disney+.
Over the years I’m confident it’s saved me thousands of pounds against the cost of long Sky subscriptions. And thanks to deals and tricks I’ve paid a fraction of what it should have cost, saving me even more cash.
But if you don’t take advantage of those extra savings, I worry that it can quickly become another expensive bill, costing you hundreds of pounds more than it needs to.
Here’s everything you need to know about it to help you work out if it’s worth signing up for – or sticking with it.
Watch my video review of NOW
What is NOW TV?
NOW (it used to be called NOW TV, but was confusingly rebranded) is an on-demand and live streaming service launched by Sky in 2012. It gives you access to most of the different Sky channels without the need for an aerial or satellite, but you will need decent broadband and an app on your TV or smart stick.
There are four different passes (or ‘memberships’) you can buy: Entertainment, Cinema, Sports and Hayu (I’ve listed the included channels on each membership further down the article).
You can get these individually, or have more than one at the same time (though you’ll only be able to watch the ones you are paying for, even though they’ll all appear as options when you load up the app).
There’s also an extra Boost membership that removes adverts and provides HD (1080p) picture quality, surround sound and the ability to watch on more than one device at the same time.
How much is NOW TV?
Here are the full price costs for all the different NOW TV passes. But as I’ll explain you’ll rarely, if ever, need to pay these full rates.
- Entertainment Pass costs £9.99 a month
- The Sky Cinema Pass costs £9.99 a month
- The Hayu pass costs £4.99 a month
- There are three Sky Sports NOW TV passes
- A Day Pass costs £9.99 for 24 hours
- A Month Pass is £33.99 a month
- A Mobile Month Pass is £5.99 a month
- NOW TV Boost (for HD and more) costs £5 a month
Why use NOW
You can ditch Sky and Virgin
For most, it’s simply a way to get Sky channels without signing up to long and expensive contracts with Sky TV or other pay TV services.
This can make it much cheaper than Sky. Even if you have all four passes you’ll pay less than the equivalent full price with Sky or Virgin. And even if you’ve haggled your price down on your Sky subscription, you can find deals to do the same with NOW. So in most instances, you’ll save money.
Unless you choose to prepay for a longer-term membership, each pass runs for 30-days. You can cancel at any time and then pick up your membership again at a later date.
This flexibility can be a huge money saver. For instance, you’ve got the ability to pick and mix which channels you want at any time. Just want Sky Cinema at Christmas? Fine, there’s no minimum 18 months with NOW.
Here’s more on how it why I think you should cancel Sky and Virgin.
You can get Sky Atlantic
I know many Virgin and TalkTalk subscribers already paying for Sky channels who take out NOW just to get Sky Atlantic. That’s all well and good, but it does mean you’re paying twice for the other channels. So it makes sense to go full NOW.
You can get Sky channels if you can’t have a dish or cable
There will also be some people who’ve wanted Sky for years but haven’t been able to add a satellite dish or get a cable connection. Though the new Sky Glass service also provides Sky channels over the internet, I’d still vote for NOW. Here’s my Sky Glass vs NOW comparison.
You can ditch the TV Licence
Though I’m a fan of the BBC, if you only watch NOW content on-demand (so not live), and also don’t watch any other live TV or iPlayer, then you can stop paying the TV Licence. However, I’d urge you to keep paying for it as it funds much more than just TV.
NOW TV pros and cons
What’s good about NOW
I’ve covered most of the benefits above, but here are the main ones to consider:
- 30-day rolling contract
- Cancel when you want
- Flexibility to choose the passes you want
- Cheaper per pass than Sky
- Loads of deals to bring the price down
- Get Sky Atlantic without signing up to Sky
- No need for a satellite dish or cable
- Available on most smart sticks and some smart TVs
What’s bad about NOW
Now isn’t perfect though. If you do end up paying full price for all the passes, that’s still a huge £62.96 each month. It might be less than Sky, but compare that to £7.99 a month for Disney+ or £9.99 for the middle Netflix membership. As a streaming service those other options are better value.
And the recent addition of adverts is a right pain. I think most people will want to pay for Boost each month for its extra features. At £5 that’s a rip-off. But if you get the price down, as you can with all the passes, it’s not so bad.
Plus, I feel there’s been less to watch over the last year. Obviously the pandemic has been a major cause of this, but there are other reasons. For example, the rise of Disney+ has meant Marvel, Star Wars, Disney and Fox content (eg The Walking Dead) leave Sky. A good reason to not pay every month.
Here’s a list of the main issues to be aware of:
- Not full HD (720p only) or surround sound unless you pay for NOW Boost
- Adverts if you don’t add a NOW Boost membership
- Can only stream on device at a time without NOW Boost
- Multiple passes can add up
- Content library is getting smaller as other services take back rights (eg Disney+)
- No app on the new Chromecast with Google TV (though you can still ‘cast’ to your TV)
- You can’t record
Getting NOW TV for less
Though there are fewer special offers than there used to be, it’s still possible to pay less than full price most of the time.
I write about the best offers on my NOW TV deals page and regularly update it when I spot new promotions and savings, but here are a few places to look.
First time NOW TV deals
New customers can often get up to 50% off Entertainment and Cinema passes, often for more than one month. There’s also sometimes a 7-day free trial.
Cancelling for deals
When you go to cancel your memberships you’ll usually be offered a discount for changing your mind. These can vary according to individual customers and the time of year, but I’ve almost always been offered some form of discount.
This has worked for me on the Boost membership, and I’m paying just £1 a month which isn’t bad at all. Here’s more on how to cancel NOW.
Checking your emails
NOW will often email you a discounted or even free pass – though only if you aren’t already signed up to that membership. Another reason to hit cancel!
Only paying when you need it
If you are paying for other streaming services at the same time there’s no way you can get your money’s worth from each one. Take advantage of the ability to cancel and rejoin later but focusing on one streaming service at a time.
Will NOW save you money?
It really depends on what you are currently paying!
If you are signed up for the likes of Sky TV or Virgin Media then I think you will almost certainly save money switching to NOW.
Not only is it cheaper each month for each tier/pass, but you have the flexibility to mix up the passes without having to pay for the basic channels.
But if you’ve already ditched Sky and only have streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, you might find NOW works out more expensive. If you end up adding NOW to your subscriptions without cancelling one of the others then you will obviously spend more money.
However, if you only sign up to NOW when you want to watch it and / or when there are special offers (and there frequently are), then you will be paying far less.
Andy’s Analysis: What I paid for NOW in the last year
You really can find ways to pay less!
Here are all the passes I had with NOW from February 2021 to January 2022, along with how much I paid thanks to discounts and deals and the saving vs the full price of each pass.
|PASS||MONTHS||AMOUNT PAID||FULL PRICE||SAVING|
The £108 I’ve spent in the last year would only cover two months of all those channels on a Sky deal! That means the annual saving would easily be more than a grand vs full price Sky.
And if you remove the Sports passes, I only spent £16 on TV and film streaming. Over 8 months, Netflix would cost £79.92 (£63.92 more) and Disney+ would cost £63.92 (£47.92 more).
In fact, those extra passes have been so cheap that I don’t mind paying for them alongside other streaming services, but I’ve still cancelled them when there’s been nothing to watch.
How do you watch NOW TV?
You need a decent internet connection to stream programmes via NOW. If you can do this already with iPlayer then you’ll be ok for NOW.
Lots of smart TVs and smart sticks will have a NOW TV app built-in, and this is the easiest way to watch NOW TV. Alternatively NOW TV can be streamed via your computer, phone or tablet (and downloaded to the latter two).
If you don’t have the app then it’s worth buying a smart stick to plug into your telly. These don’t have to cost much, with deals often running to get then for as little as £15. They also have apps to let you watch Netflix, iPlayer and other on-demand services.
You can register your account on an unlimited number of devices though you can only watch on one at a time unless you pay for the Boost membership. This increases that limit to three simultaneous streams.
I watch on my Samsung TV in the lounge, or via a Roku stick connected to the bedroom TV. You can also get the app on devices and TV such as LG, Amazon Fire Sticks, Xbox X or S, Playstation 4 or 5 and more. Here’s the latest list of supported devices.
What channels can you watch on NOW TV?
Here’s more detail on all the different NOW TV passes and the channels available on each one.
The Entertainment Pass
With this pass you get access to all the main Sky TV channels including streaming of Sky Atlantic, Sky Max and more, plus full box sets of new shows and classic series such as Game of Thrones, The Sorpanos and West World (the exact titles do come and go throughout the year). It’s also the only way to get Sky Atlantic if you don’t have full Sky TV.
There used to be a separate Kids Pass, but that was merged with the Entertainment Pass in 2021.
The NOW TV Entertainment Pass gives you access to 15 Sky channels and six kids channels.
- Sky Showcase
- Sky Max
- Sky Atlantic
- Sky Witness
- Sky Arts
- Sky Crime
- Sky Nature
- Sky Documentaries
- Sky Comedy
- Comedy Central
- National Geographic
- Cartoon Network
- Nick Jr
- Nick Toons
The Sky Cinema Pass
This movie package has all the films on Sky Cinema (formerly Sky Movies) channels. The films are generally more recent movies than those on Netflix and Amazon, along with plenty of classics.
- Sky Cinema Premiere
- Sky Cinema Hits
- Sky Cinema Action
- Sky Cinema Animation
- Sky Cinema Family
- Sky Cinema Comedy
- Sky Cinema Horror
- Sky CInema Thriller
- Sky Cinema Greats
- Sky Cinema Drama
- Sky Cinema seasonal (eg Christmas)
Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.
The Sky Sports pass
The NOW TV Sky Sports Pass gives you all 11 Sky Sports channels, though the mobile pass only has five (those with an *)
- Sky Sports Main Event
- Sky Sports Premier League *
- Sky Sports Football
- Sky Sports Cricket
- Sky Sports Golf
- Sky Sports Racing *
- Sky Sports F1
- Sky Sports Arena *
- Sky Sports Action *
- Sky Sports News *
- Sky Sports Mix
The Hayu Pass
The NOW TV Hayu Pass features shows such as Keeping up with the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Atlanta.
The Boost pass
If you want to remove adverts or watch NOW TV in full 1080 HD then you need to pay £5 a month for the NOW TV Boost. This also comes with 5.1 surround sound and lets you watch on two additional screens at the same time (so three at once). It will upgrade the quality of all your passes for a single price.