The recent NOW TV app release for the Xbox 360 is an important step to aligning Sky’s offering with similar streaming services and the wise decision to include mobile phone apps, whatever you think of watching a movie on a very small screen, as part of their package makes a lot of sense. The apps for iOS and selected Android devices followed quickly after the launch of the service, with the Xbox 360 only now getting the ability to stream the service with a PS3 app due shortly soon Sky will have all bases covered. We’re a long way from the satellite dish nailed to the side of the house.
So, what do you get for your money? Sky have wisely chosen to lauch their new service with their strongest hand – the Movie channels. For a long time Sky has been the first provider here in the UK to have many of the biggest films first. Before the days of Lovefilm and Netflix you had to trundle along to your local Blockbuster (remember them?) store to pluck the latest films from their shelves, or if you had Sky you could see them on their dedicated movie channel. Film4 fought back and seeing the need to diversify Sky recently split its movie offering into eleven specific channels, all of which are available as part of NOW TV. The choice of a monthly pass or pay by play is yours and though Sky can’t compete with their rivals on price they are pinning their hopes on gathering up the movie fans who want access to the latest batch of crowd-pleasers before everyone else.
In the near future we’ll see the service expand to Sky Sports (a move which makes a lot of sense when those who balk at paying full price when they only want one sport) and then onto the entertainment sphere with the much-loved Sky Atlantic coming to the service in the next few months. What you’re buying into here is much more than just the chance to buy the occasional movie. It’s clear that the monthly passes are the ultimate goal in terms of sales but it’s the infrastructure of the service which might draw people in. You start with movies, move onto the occasional sporting event, if there’s a new HBO series playing on Sky Atlantic then you can always opt in for that. Lovefilm and Netflix can’t offer that, nor would they want to, but Sky’s power lies in its scope of entertainment rather than its movie lineup.
The best thing about the service is that you can try it out for thirty days for free. As with its competition you’ll find yourself getting into a routine with the service, Sky are hoping to lure those who don’t want their full range of channels with a more select offering. Lovefilm’s Instant and Netflix’s lineup has the edge with the TV series and the vast range of films but fall down on their ability to show the latest films on their streams. Also users of Netflix here in the UK have complained that the selection of films is not updated often enough while Lovefilm suffers from a similar shortfall.
Like Universal’s similar but limited PictureBox service a steady rotation of films is seen as the way to step apart from the crowd. MUBI and Curzon on Demand have their audiences, Sky has spent the last thirty or so years doing its best to entice viewers to pay for their service and a new way of watching TV shows, sports and films. NOW TV comes into the on-demand race at a relatively late stage, perhaps holding off until technology and audience buy-in was at its tipping point, and it will be interesting to see if those that pick up the service do so with the monthly pass or the ‘pay by play ‘ model and how each service adapts to this new challenger.
If you want to see what the fuss is about click here to find out more and to test the thirty-day trial offer.