Sky’s streaming service, NOW (formerly known as NOW TV), is heading towards a drastic change to its pricing model, as well as how its current membership plans are built.
Among the upcoming changes: the price of the Cinema membership will actually go down, but with caveats, while the price of NOW Boost, which lets you watch in Full HD and without adverts – will go up.
Furthermore – the £3.99/month Kids Membership is being cancelled, but its content will move to the Entertainment membership.
Now, which is owned by Sky, is a streaming-only service (See our full NOW review here), which you stream via broadband. It offers several flexible “Memberships” – Entertainment (with TV shows), Cinema, Sports and – for now – Kids.
The service was meant to be Sky’s answer to Netflix and the other streaming services, and unlike Sky, it doesn’t require a long-term contract. Known for years as NOW TV, the name was changed to NOW earlier this year.
Big Changes Coming To NOW
Although a wide public announcement hasn’t been made yet, some of NOW’s existing customers have started getting e-mails this week, about upcoming changes to NOW’s prices and plans.
The changes will take place starting July 15, and these are the ones we know of, as of this writing:
1. All plans downgraded to just 1 concurrent stream: Currently, members of the Cinema, Entertainment, Kids and Sports plans can watch on up to 2 streams/devices at the same time.
That means you can watch something from NOW on your living room TV, and someone else can watch something else from NOW on his mobile phone, or on a TV in another room, at the same time.
Starting mid-July, you will only be able to watch on ONE device at any given time (unless you get the Boost membership – see below).
2. Cinema Membership: NOW’s film plan, which includes access to all the live Sky Movies channels, as well as an on-demand library of films. Its price will go down from £11.99/month to £9.99/m.
3. Kids Membership: The plan, which currently costs £3.99/month offers live children’s channels and thousands of on-demand shows for kids. The Kids plan will be cancelled, and its content will become part of the Entertainment Plan. There’s good news, however – existing Kids Membership subscribers who DON’T have Entertainment, will be rolled onto the Entertainment Membership at no extra cost (so £3.99/month), “for the foreseeable future”.
4. Entertainment Membership: NOW’s TV plan offers some of Sky’s live TV channels, as well as on-demand programmes. The price will remain at £9.99/month. Content from the former Kids Membership will move to the Entertainment Plan, but will now also get adverts (unless you sign up for NOW Boost). As with all the other plans, Entertainment will go down to just 1 concurrent stream.
5. NOW Boost: The Boost add-on lets you watch NOW’s content in Full HD (1080p), and also adds Dolby Digital 5.1, support, 50 frames per second on six Sports channels, and the ability to watch on three streams/devices at the same time. Customers with Boost will also not see any adverts on the on-demand content. NOW Boost’s price will go up from £3/month to £5/month.
There are no changes to the Sports memberships, but note that Sky Sports Week and Mobile Month Membership are no longer available to purchase – which has been the case for a while, though there were a few workarounds (active members on these plans will continue to get them until cancelled).
Special Offers for Existing Customers
Existing customers are being offered special deals, and we’ve seen a range of prices being offered to specific customers. However, in addition to those customer-specific offers, NOW tell us there are a few general offers that aim to prevent existing customers’ bills from going up:
Current Cinema members, not on an offer, will see a price reduction from £11.99 to £9.99 on their membership but will have Boost applied to their account at a reduced rate to ensure they continue to enjoy NOW for the same total monthly price that they are currently paying.
All Entertainment members with a Kids Membership will have Boost added to their account – their total bill will stay the same and functionality enhanced (HD, 5.1 sound, 3 streams, no adverts, etc).
Current Kids members without Entertainment will be rolled onto the Entertainment Membership at their current Kids price point.
Regarding the changes, a NOW spokesperson told Cord Busters: “At NOW, we constantly evaluate and invest in our content and product offering to meet the evolving needs of our members.
“Having recently relaunched our brand, we are continuing this transformation by taking the opportunity to simplify our membership options providing more value for our members.
“The new NOW offering will make it easier for members to access the world’s best entertainment, with the flexibility to choose the package that suits them, whilst avoiding price increases to the core content membership proposition.”
NOW’s Price Changes: What Does It All Mean?
As it is, NOW is already one of the more expensive streaming services in the UK, if you add everything up (and without even counting the Sports Membership, which is unique to NOW).
Netflix currently charges £5.99/month for its “Basic” tier, which only offers SD content and one screen at a time. The Standard Plan (with Full HD content and 2 screens at the same time) is £9.99/month, and The Premium Plan (With 4K content and 4 screens) is £13.99/month.
Disney+, which raised its prices this year, currently costs £7.99/month or £79.90/year, and includes 4K content.
Amazon Prime Video costs £5.99/month (or £79/year if you get the full Amazon Prime membership), and includes 4K streaming.
And remember – these services offer films, movies and kids content for the same price, with 4K content (NOW might get 4K in the future), and without adverts.
With NOW moving the Kids channels to the Entertainment Membership, it does become a better deal – for Entertainment members. If you only wanted the Kids plan, your price will jump up now, because you must sign up for Entertainment (though keeping the price the same for existing Kids customers is a great move from NOW).
Furthermore, if you combine Entertainamnet with Cinema, it’ll cost you (after July 15) £19.98/month – cheaper than before, but still more than double what you’re paying for some of the other services.
And, for that price, you’re also getting adverts, just one concurrent stream, and an old-school (not in a good way) picture quality of 720p.
So for a real comparison, you must add NOW Boost – which will now cost £5/month for new/returning customers. That takes us up to £24.98/month, which – while still cheaper (and more flexible) than Sky in most cases – is well above the other streaming services.