Sky NOW’s Shift: Long-Term Contracts For Sports Fans

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Sky’s standalone streaming service NOW (formerly known as NOW TV), once celebrated for its flexibility, has introduced more long-term commitments into its subscription model this week – this one targeting its Sky Sports membership.

This offer expands upon a trend set last year when NOW first integrated optional minimum-term contracts for its Entertainment and Cinema packages, where subscribers can get a discount – if they’re willing to sign a 6-month contract.

The latest addition of the Sports package to this contractual model marks a significant shift from NOW’s original ethos of month-to-month freedom, signalling a move towards more traditional TV package structures, which we all know from Sky’s older TV offers.

NOW Sports screenshot
NOW Sports

It’s important to understand that while you can still choose the flexible, month-to-month option for NOW Sports, the cheaper prices are now only available if you agree to a longer, six-month commitment.

Therefore, you can keep the flexibility, but without the discounts that used to occasionally come with it

So, is it worth locking into a half-year contract for a lower price on Sky Sports? Let’s go over the full details.

NOW entertainment TV mockup

NOW (Join here) is Sky’s long-running standalone streaming service that does not normally require a long-term contract, and works as an app on many supported devices.

In 2022, Sky also launched Sky Stream, which is also a streaming service from Sky – but one that only works with the Sky Stream puck, and has a different interface (and pricing scheme) – See our Sky Stream VS NOW comparison.

NOW offers three main content packages (“memberships”):

  • NOW Entertainment, normally at £9.99/m, with Sky’s TV channels, including Sky Atlantic, and content for kids.
  • NOW Cinema, normally at £9.99/month. Identical to the Sky Cinema plan on Sky, with new blockbusters and back-catalogue films.
  • NOW Sky Sports, normally at £34.99/month. Almost identical to Sky Sports on Sky (with Racing, Mix and News being part of this membership instead of Entertainment).

Then there’s NOW Boost, which costs £6/month. It’s an add-on, 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).

Furthermore, NOW Boost promises smoother sporting action, as all the Sky Sports channels stream at 50 frames per second when you have Boost.

NOW Boost on desktop computer

NOW is available on a wide range of streaming devices, including Amazon’s Fire TV, Roku, Google’s Chromecast, mobile phones, tablets and more (see our full NOW review).

NOW’s Long-Term Contracts Evolution

Historically, NOW has distinguished itself from Sky’s traditional TV packages with a no-strings-attached approach, offering viewers the freedom to dip in and out of their favourite content without the burden of a long-term contract.

This model has been particularly appealing to cord-cutting viewers who desire access to premium content, such as Sky’s extensive entertainment and sports coverage, without the commitment and costs associated with standard Sky packages.

However, last year, a change emerged, one that subtly yet significantly altered the landscape – when NOW started offering major discounts – but only for those willing to sign contracts with a minimum term of 6 months.

Signing a contract

Before that, NOW regularly offered discounts and deals – but ones that let subscribers maintain the flexibility associated with NOW’s subscriptions.

So, as of this writing, for example, the Cinema and Entertainment memberships cost £9.99/month each – but you can get both of them together for just £13.99/month – if you’re willing to sign the 6-month minimum term (see more NOW deals here).

Until now, these 6-month minimum term deals were only applicable to Entertainment and Cinema memberships, while Sports membership deals did not require a minimum term.

But as of this week, NOW has introduced a minimum term requirement for its discounted Sky Sports membership.

This pivot to a semi-contractual model echoes the traditional TV package structure, marking a departure from NOW’s original ethos of flexibility.

NOW Sky Sports New Membership Offer

Under the current limited-time offer, viewers can access the NOW Sports membership for £26 per month, a notable reduction from the standard price of £34.99 per month.

However, this discounted rate now comes with a catch – it’s only available to those willing to commit to a minimum term of six months.

NOW Sports membership January 2024
NOW Sports Options – January 2024

This means you’ll have to pay £156 in total, over the six months (with monthly payments of £26), instead of £209.94 – but without an option to cancel the subscription until those six months end.

Along with this offer, you also get a 1-month free trial of NOW Boost – which will then renew at its normal £6/month price – but you CAN cancel Boost before those 30 days are up, as it’s not a part of the six-month minimum term.

It’s worth noting that the non-discounted rate for the NOW Sports membership remains available without a minimum term, priced at £34.99 per month.

This dual-structure pricing strategy allows NOW to maintain a semblance of its original flexible approach, albeit at a higher cost for those unwilling to commit.

And, there’s also the regularly available Day Membership option, which gives you one day of NOW Sports for £11.99.

Long-Term Contracts: The New NOW Norm?

For consumers – sports fans in particular – this move represents another significant change.

The appeal of NOW has been its flexibility, allowing viewers to subscribe for short periods – particularly relevant for sports seasons or specific events.

Woman watching NOW on laptop

This change potentially alienates a segment of the audience who valued NOW for its non-committal nature.

Things are somewhat similar on the other “side” of Sky’s streaming business.

Sky Stream (and Sky Glass) are also available with a choice: get a discount if you’re willing to sign a long-term (18-month) contract, or pay full price if you want the flexible, 31-day rolling contract.

Sky Stream near TV
Sky Stream

At the moment, for example, you can get Sky Sports as an add-on for Sky Stream for just £18/month – but that comes with an 18-month contract, and is on top of the mandatory Sky Ultimate bundle that you need to get with Sky Stream.

It’s still better than the old days – when Sky Q was ONLY available with a long-term contract – but it means Sky and NOW are still tempting people into signing longer-term contracts in exchange for a discounted price.

Is It A Good Deal?

The whole point of cord cutting and streaming TV is the flexibility that you get – subscribe to Netflix for a couple of months, then cancel and switch to Disney+, then get a month of NOW to watch that one show you’re interested in… and when you go on holiday, or you’re having bad financial times – just cancel everything.

Streaming services on phone netflix apple prime video disney

Long-term contracts with minimum terms take away that flexibility.

And, with sports, it can be quite beneficial to just “follow your team” or follow your favourite sports seasons, which means you may not need a NOW Sports subscription for six months at a time.

If, however, you’re definitely planning to be a NOW Sports subscriber for six months or more – then you might as well subscribe to it at the discounted price.

Then again – a different, and potentially better, NOW Sports deal may pop up in a month – and then you’ll be stuck on your 6-month minimum term deal…

(Note: It seems the deal has now ended – but is likely to return at some point in the future).

man watchin streaming tv on tablet

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