Sky’s NOW Adds Channel 4 Hit Shows In A Surprising Twist

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Sky’s NOW subscribers were recently surprised to find two of Channel 4’s flagship programmes, gripping thriller The Gathering and the sharp new drama Queenie – show up on NOW’s Entertainment Membership.

What makes this addition somewhat unusual is that both shows are also currently available on Channel 4’s own streaming app, leading to questions about the nature of this collaboration and its potential benefits for both platforms – and their viewers.

One potential advantage for NOW subscribers who are also subscribed to NOW Boost is that they can enjoy these shows without any adverts (at a total cost of £16/month).

In contrast, viewers watching on Channel 4’s own app will have to sit through advert breaks, unless they pay for the Channel 4+ service, which costs £3.99 per month.

Sky confirmed to us that a selection of Channel 4 shows is indeed available for NOW Entertainment members to watch – but is this just part of an ongoing collaboration, or a new sign of the times for streaming services?

Channel 4 shows on NOW

Channel 4 And Sky: A History Of Collaboration

In recent years, we haven’t seen major Channel 4 programmes show up on NOW. But recently, my friend Andy Webb from Be Clever With Your Cash alerted me to the appearance of The Gathering and Queenie on the service.

The Gathering is a suspenseful thriller set in Merseyside, where a violent attack on a teenager at an illegal beach rave sends shockwaves through the community.

Queenie, based on Candice Carty-Williams’ best-selling novel, is a drama that follows the life of a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman (Dionne Brown) who struggles to find her place in either of the two cultures she straddles.

If we look further back, however, this is not an isolated incident but rather part of a larger history of collaboration between Channel 4 and Sky.

The two broadcasters have been working together over the years to make Channel 4’s content available to Sky subscribers through various means.

In the past, Channel 4’s box sets (such as Derry Girls and The Inbetweeners) have been made available on NOW (along with Channel 5 shows), allowing subscribers to binge-watch the entire series at their convenience.

The inbetweeners channel 4
The Inbetweeners (Photo: Channel 4)

This arrangement provided NOW customers with access to popular Channel 4 shows without having to leave their preferred platform.

On Sky TV’s side, until 2023 Channel 4’s on-demand content was only accessible to Sky subscribers through direct box set offerings.

Sky Q users could not access the Channel 4 streaming app directly on their devices, which meant that they had to search for individual Channel 4 shows within Sky’s own interface.

This changed in December 2023 when the Channel 4 streaming app (formerly known as All4) was finally made available on Sky Q.

Channel 4 app on TV

This allowed Sky Q users to access Channel 4’s entire library of on-demand content directly through the app rather than relying solely on Sky’s curated box sets.

In recent years, broadcasters have been focusing more and more on their own in-house streaming services (ITVX, BBC iPlayer, Channel 4, and My5), so these kinds of collaborations have become less common.

However, we still sometimes see BBC shows come up on Netflix (in the UK), BBC and Channel 4/5 shows are available on ITVX (via BritBox), etc.

Who Benefits From Channel 4’s Presence on NOW?

As mentioned, the availability of Channel 4’s flagship shows on Sky’s NOW streaming service may seem surprising at first glance, given that these shows are also accessible through Channel 4’s app.

Channel 4 app on Sky Glass

However, upon closer examination, this arrangement can be seen as a mutually beneficial collaboration that offers advantages for both NOW and Channel 4 (and to at least some of the subscribers).

For NOW, the inclusion of these Channel 4 shows can help with Sky’s strategy to position the streaming service as a more comprehensive, all-in-one platform (something they’ve certainly been trying to do with Sky Stream / Glass).

By offering a selection of popular content from other British broadcasters, NOW can provide subscribers with a more diverse range of programming, similar to how ITVX Premium incorporates shows from BBC, Channel 4, and Channel 5 under the BritBox brand.

BritBox on ITVX

While the addition of just two Channel 4 shows at this time may seem minimal, it could be a way for Sky to test the waters and gauge subscriber interest in content from other broadcasters.

If these shows prove popular among NOW users, Sky may consider expanding its partnerships and adding more UK broadcasters’ content to the platform in the future.

For Channel 4, The Gathering and Queenie’s presence on NOW serves as an opportunity to promote their shows to a new audience that may not be familiar with the channel’s own streaming service.

By exposing their content to NOW’s subscriber base, Channel 4 can potentially attract viewers who may not have otherwise discovered these shows, leading them to explore more of Channel 4’s offerings on their own streaming platform (and the shows are clearly identifiable as Channel 4 originals).

Furthermore, licensing their content to NOW could potentially provide Channel 4 with an additional revenue stream.

Channel 4 plus mockup

For subscribers, this collaboration is beneficial in two main ways: it exposes them to content they might not have sought out on Channel 4’s platform, and if they have the NOW Boost add-on, it allows them to watch without adverts, which they would encounter on Channel 4 without paying for Channel 4+.

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