Sky Glass, the streaming-based TV from Sky, represents a unique product category. But with all the promotions around this telly, some have forgotten that Sky already has a streaming service: NOW (formerly known as NOW TV).
While there are many differences between Sky Glass and Sky’s NOW, there are also many similarities. They both require broadband (instead of a satellite dish) and they offer similar content packages (with a few caveats).
So is Sky Glass closer to Sky Q or to NOW? And what about the pricing differences? And are we comparing apples to oranges here, or simply a Gala apple to a Granny Smith apple?
Before we dive in, a quick refresher: Sky Glass is a 4K streaming TV from Sky (see our review). It comes with a QLED HDR display, and a built-in soundbar with six speakers. It includes channels from Sky, as well as many of the major streaming apps, and Freeview.
NOW (they changed their name from NOW TV) is Sky’s no-contract streaming service – a cheaper TV platform that gives you flexible packages (“memberships” of content that can be watched on a variety of streaming devices).
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Devices: Where Can You Watch Sky Glass / NOW?
Sky Glass represents both a service and a TV. As in, the actual device that sits in your living room (and there’s also a soundbar built-in)
Sky is offering Glass in three sizes: 43″, 55″ and 65″.
Sky’s service – as in, the channels and content, are baked into the TV’s unique operating system: you get things like Playlists (sort of a watchlist combined with recordings), voice control, and more – in a user interface that’s supposed to be both innovative and easy to use.
If you want to watch Sky in another room, you can get the optional Sky Stream puck – which is a streaming set-top box that connects to your TV (Sky Stream is also available as a standalone device, without Glass).
Obviously, you can’t take Sky Glass with you when you travel (or visit your sister) – first because of its size, but also because – just like Sky Stream – Glass is geo-fenced around your home, and will only work at the address of the account holder.
Therefore, if you want to watch Sky’s channels on the go, as a Sky Glass subscriber, you’ll have to use Sky Go – which is yet another separate streaming service from Sky, meant to be used on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Sky Go doesn’t share an interface with Glass (or Stream), so your watchlist and recommendations won’t sync between Sky Glass and Sky Go.
NOW, on the other hand, is a stand-alone streaming service that’s not dependent on any specific device. In fact, NOW used to sell their own streaming sticks and boxes – but those were discontinued.
So if you want to watch Sky’s channels via NOW – you just need a streaming device (that’s connected to your broadband).
Most devices sold in the UK support NOW – The Amazon Fire TV sticks, Roku, many Smart TVs, as well as smartphones (both iOS and Android).
The Winner: NOW.
This one’s easy: If you want a new TV, AND you want to subscribe to Sky, then you can consider Sky Glass – but it only lets you watch Sky’s channels or your TV at home (with Sky Go not being a full replacement), while NOW lets you watch anywhere, on almost any device.
Content and Channels on Sky Glass and NOW
With Sky Glass being a Smart TV (of sorts), its content library is not just about Sky: it supports 3rd party streaming services and apps (though a few major ones are still missing), and even its Freeview channels are streamed via broadband instead of an aerial.
NOW is not a device – it’s a service. Whatever else you get around it, depends on the streaming device you’re using to watch NOW.
But if we look at Sky’s own channels – Sky and NOW are identical in what they offer. From channels like Sky Atlantic to Sky Witness, from Sky Sports channels to Sky Cinema – everything’s available both on Glass and NOW (with a few minor differences).
The pricing is different, of course (see below for more on that), and the content is divided into different types of packages – but it’s all there on both of them.
And since both NOW and Glass are based on streaming, most of the content is available both on-demand and live (except for sports content, where not everything is available on-demand).
The Winner: TIE!
If we only compare Sky’s channels – then both NOW and Glass have the same content. If you’re looking to get Freeview channels via broadband (because you don’t have good aerial reception or you can’t put a dish) – then Glass does have the upper hand.
Video and Sound Quality
The Sky Glass TV comes with a QLED 4K (UHD) screen with HDR support, as well as a built-in soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos.
Obviously, you could get similar specs by buying a different TV (and/or soundbar) – so for comparison’s sake, we need to look at Sky’s content – and the video/audio levels you can get from it via Glass and NOW.
Sky Glass is similar to Sky Q in that regard: you can get some of Sky’s content in 4K Ultra HD – some live sporting events and selected programmes and films.
The same goes for Dolby Atmos content (an advanced surround sound technology that adds height channels to the “traditional” surround sound platform) on Sky:
“Dolby Atmos is currently available on live Ultra HD broadcasts of English Premier League matches, selected Ultra HD Sky Cinema downloads and at times, selected Box Sets from Sky One and Sky Atlantic”
Keep in mind, though, that you have to pay extra if want to get 4K and Dolby Atmos content on Sky Glass. Otherwise, the baseline picture quality on Sky Glass is Full HD (1080p).
On NOW, it’s a different story: there’s no 4K / HDR support at all, and the maximum video quality is Full HD (1080p).
But even for that, you need to pay extra for Full HD on NOW, and subscribe to NOW Boost – otherwise, the default video quality on NOW is 720p.
There’s also no Dolby Atmos support on NOW. You can only get Dolby Digital 5.1, and again – you need to pay for NOW Boost to get that.
The Winner: Sky Glass.
If you’re after 4K / HDR (and Dolby Atmos) content from Sky – you can only get it on Glass.
Sky Glass’ Interface VS NOW’s Interface
Sky Glass’ user interface, which is identical to the one on Sky Stream, is all about personalisation and recommendations.
Unlike Sky Q, with Glass you can’t record content locally on the device itself – instead, most of the content is streamed on-demand, either from Sky or one of the 3rd party apps – so you’re taken to BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Disney+, etc.
Some content can also be recorded to the cloud – mainly sports – but for most of the content, you’re dependent on the show/film still being available online, instead of having it reside on your local hard drive.
Everything on Glass revolves around the Playlist – a watchlist that you can add programmes and films to, from Sky’s channels as well as from 3rd party streaming services.
There’s also a global search, that lets you search (by voice, via the remote) among all the streaming services supported on the device – so if you say “Tom Cruise“, you’ll see his films on Sky, Prime Video, Netflix, etc. – and you can then jump straight to them, if you have the right subscription.
NOW’s interface is quite basic, and is similar to many other streaming services – rows of content (either films or TV shows), divided into different categories.
There’s also a watchlist you can add content to, and a ‘Continue Watching’ row for things you’ve already started to watch.
Another differentiation is the Personal Playlists. On Sky Glass (and Stream), you can set separate playlists for each member of the family – while it’s not as robust as having fully separate profiles (as you do on Netflix or Amazon’s Fire TV, for example) – it still give you more flexibility for separate watching.
NOW doesn’t have anything similar – neither profiles, nor personalised playlists.
The Winner: Sky Glass
NOW doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel – it’s a simple (some would say too simple) interface that lets you browse content (or search for it directly).
Sky Glass is the opposite – its interface is, some would say, the main attraction – and while it’s useful (especially the global search), it might get a bit confusing for new users, at least until they get used to it. Still, I like how it tries to take things in a different direction.
Cost: Sky Glass VS NOW Pricing
Sky Glass comes with two distinct payments: you pay for the TV itself (the device), and for Sky’s service.
If you pay the whole amount for the telly upfront, The 43″ TV costs £699, the 55″ is £949, and the £65″ is £1,199.
If you prefer to buy Sky Glass in monthly instalments, those payments are a loan, either for 24 or 48 months. It’s interest-free, but it still requires a status and credit check, so if you miss a payment, it could certainly affect your credit score.
The 43″ starts at £14/m, the 55″ is £19/month, and the £65″ is £24/month – if you choose the 48 months option.
There’s also a £10/£20 upfront fee for all of them (and yes – surprisingly, it’s a bit cheaper to pay with instalments than to pay upfront in this case).
Then, you pay for Sky’s services and channels on top of what you pay for the TV.
Unlike Sky’s dish-based solutions (such as Sky Q), and similarly to Sky Stream, Sky Glass doesn’t require a long-term contract for the content packages, which is a major shift for Sky.
The basic contract is a 31-day rolling contract which you can cancel at any time without any penalty charges (just remember – this is separate from the payments for the TV itself).
But you CAN also go for the 18-month contract – and that will lower your monthly subscription costs (although you’re then “stuck” with it for 18 months).
The basic Sky package that you must have with Glass is Sky Ultimate, which includes Sky Entertainment (a pack of channels like Sky Atlantic, Sky Max and others), Freeview, and the basic Netflix plan which only has SD content (but will be upgraded to 720p in November).
The rolling-contract version of this package on Sky Stream costs £29/month, and the same plan, with the 18-month contract, is £26/month.
On top of that, you can add more packs and channels from Sky and 3rd parties. As of this writing, the costs are:
- Sky Cinema (which includes Paramount+) for £13/month on the rolling contract, and £11/month on the 18-month contract.
- Sky Sports for £27/month on the rolling contract, and £25/month on the 18-month contract.
- Sky Kids for £6/month on either contract.
If you want to add 4K and Dolby Atmos, that’s another £6/month. And if you want to be able to fast forward adverts – that’s £5/month (it used to be free on the first year – but that’s no longer the case).
And lastly, if you want to be able to watch in other rooms – you need the “Whole Home” add-on, which is £12/month. The first Whole Home puck (so the second for you in total) is free for now – but you will have to pay £39.95 for additional ones.
NOW’s costs are different: there are three main packages (“memberships”) that you can join:
- NOW Entertainment, at £9.99/m. It’s equivalent to the Sky Entertainment/Ultimate pack, with two major differences – it includes Kids channels (which cost more on Sky), and it DOESN’T include the three Sky Sports channels that are part of Sky Entertainment (Racing, Mix and News).
- NOW Cinema, at £9.99/month. Identical to the Sky Cinema plan on Glass.
- NOW Sky Sports, at £34.99/month. Almost identical to Sky Sports on Glass (with Racing, Mix and News being part of this membership instead of Entertainment).
Then there’s NOW Boost, at £6/month – which adds Full HD (1080p) video quality, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, no adverts (for on-demand content. You’ll still see adverts on Sky’s live channels), and the ability to stream on up to 3 devices at the same time (instead of just one).
There are no mandatory long-term contracts on NOW, and you can cancel at any point.
However, in the past year, Sky started offering optional “6 Month Saver Plans” on NOW, that DO include a minimum term (of 6 months, as of this writing) – for a lower monthly cost.
So let’s compare two similar packages (without taking into account the cost of the TV itself) –
Sky Glass with:
- Sky Ultimate (which also includes Netflix’s basic tier)
- Sky Cinema
- Sky Kids
- Sky Sports
The total would be £75/month on the rolling contract and £68/month on the 18-month contract.
And that’s WITHOUT adding things like advert skipping or Whole Home.
So let’s compare that to a NOW package that includes:
- NOW Entertainment (which also includes Kids)
- NOW Cinema
- NOW Sports
- NOW Boost (for HD and no adverts)
- Netflix Basic Plan without adverts (Standalone it’s £6.99/month)
The total is then £67.96.
As you can see – the two are pretty similar, especially if you take the 18-month contract with Glass. But keep in mind the big difference with the cost of Sky Sports – it’s £25-£27/month on Sky Glass, and £34.99/month on NOW (but it’s often discounted).
So if you’re not a sports fan, NOW (and Netflix) totals £32.97, while Sky Glass is £43-£48/m without sports.
And of course, with NOW you can decide you don’t need Netflix. With Glass, you don’t have that flexibility, as it’s built into Sky Ultimate.
The Winner: NOW.
Somewhat surprisingly, the difference between NOW’s pricing and Sky Glass isn’t very big. Whether that says something about how pricey NOW is, or how cheap Glass is – is up to you.
And yet – NOW is still cheaper. And more importantly, it gives you even more flexibility. Want just to get Sky Cinema? you can. Want Sky Sports without anything else? you can.
And while Sky Glass does offer more flexibility than other Sky offers (in particular with the rolling 31-day contract, instead of the 18-month one) – it’s still not as flexible as NOW.
And – let’s not forget the big elephant in the room (with its built-in soundbar) – with Sky Glass, YOU HAVE to buy Sky’s TV.
With NOW, you can use your own Smart TV, or any TV for that matter, by connecting it to a cheap streaming device.
The Bottom Line: Sky Glass or NOW?
It all boils down to one question: Do you need a new TV? And do you think Sky’s TV is a good option for you?
If the answer is Yes, AND you want to be a Sky subscriber – then you’re getting exactly what you want with Sky Glass. The TV is decent (though a bit expensive for the specs you get), it sounds good, and – its Sky content pack is not too expensive when compared to NOW.
However, pretty much the only major things from Sky you can get on Glass and not get on NOW, are 4K/HDR and Dolby Atmos (which, in my opinion, is exactly the reason you can’t get them on NOW – it’s almost the only differentiator at this point).
So if you don’t need a new TV – or you don’t fancy this particular one from Sky – then there’s really no reason to choose Glass over NOW.
Also, remember that if you don’t need a new TV – you can also go for Sky Stream. In that case, check our Sky Stream VS NOW comparison.