In a notable shift, Sky’s NOW streaming service (formerly known as NOW TV) has put an end to its free trials for the Cinema and Entertainment packages.
These 7-day trials, which had been a staple for new customers looking to test the waters, are no longer available (at least for the time being).
This move by NOW reflects a larger trend in the streaming industry in the UK, with other major services like Netflix and Disney+ also discontinuing their free trials.
As competition intensifies and the market matures, it appears that streaming services are focusing on other strategies to attract subscribers (such as cheaper ad-supported plans).
So, what does this mean for potential NOW subscribers? If you were counting on a free trial to explore NOW’s offerings, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Up until this week, NOW was still running a promotion where customers were able to buy a discounted 6-month Entertainment Membership – and get a 7-days Cinema trial along with it.
But that promotion has been replaced – and as of this writing, the only free content trial remaining for NOW’s customers is the hayu one – which gives you 7 free days (there’s also a free trial for the NOW Boost add-on).
Meanwhile, on the plus side – NOW’s £12/month Bundle is back – with the same annoying catch as before (see full details below).
NOW is Sky’s long-running standalone streaming service that doesn’t usually require a long-term contract and works as an app on many supported devices.
Last year, Sky 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).
Looking For A NOW TV Free Trial? It’s Gone
For years, NOW has offered free 7-day trials for new customers. These were a great way to lure new subscribers in – and also, of course, a great way for some to binge-watch a full series for free, in less than a week.
Those free trials – for the Cinema and Entertainment memberships – are now gone.
It’s possible they’ll return in some form as promotional deals from NOW change – but for now, the only way to watch Sky’s NOW memberships (other than hayu) is to pay up.
Free Streaming Trials Disappearing All-Around
NOW isn’t the only streaming service in the UK that has pulled the plug on free trials. For a long time, free trials were almost a given with streaming services, allowing users to dabble with the content before fully committing.
It’s been an effective way for companies to lure in customers – especially when streaming services were a novelty. But that’s changing.
Notably, two of the biggest players in the streaming arena, Netflix and Disney+, have also followed suit. Netflix, which had been synonymous with its 30-day free trial, discontinued the offer several years ago.
The service is now subscription-based from the get-go, which means if you want to dive into the world of Stranger Things or The Crown, you’ll have to take the plunge without a test run.
Similarly, Disney+ had a 7-day free trial when it first launched. The trial was handy for those eager to explore a plethora of Disney classics, Marvel epics, and Star Wars sagas. However, that ship has sailed, and now, to access Disney+, you need to subscribe outright.
On the flip side, there are still a few services in the UK holding onto the free trial tradition.
Amazon’s Prime Video, for instance, offers a 30-day free trial. Of course, with a Prime subscription, you receive other benefits, like free next-day delivery on Amazon purchases.
Additionally, Paramount+ is another contender that offers a 7-day free trial. With Paramount+, you can dip your toes into a sea of content, from hit shows like Star Trek (every generation included) to an archive of Paramount films.
Instead of free trials, some are moving to ad-supported schemes. Amazon has Freevee, which is a free streaming service (with adverts), and Netflix has its “Standard with Ads” tier – which isn’t free, but is cheaper than the basic Netflix tier (And there’s also some speculation that Amazon may add an ad-supported tier to Prime Video).
When it comes to adverts, NOW TV does the opposite – it comes with ads already baked in, and if you want to remove them – you have to pay more, for the NOW Boost addon.
NOW’s £12 Offer: Pay Less, Sign Up For Longer
A new deal that’s available until June 29, 2023 (and is identical to a deal we saw in March) offers both the Cinema and Entertainment memberships for one discounted price – but there’s a catch.
NOW was always known for being a service with a rolling, monthly contract that you can cancel anytime. It still is – but this month’s offer (which is optional, of course) – switches things up a bit.
Previously, if you wanted to enjoy both NOW Entertainment and NOW Cinema, it would set you back £19.98 per month. However, you can now bundle these two for a significantly reduced price of just £12 per month, and this deal extends for a period of six months.
However, there is a critical detail in this offer that is different from most previous NOW deals. While it may sound like you have “up to” six months to enjoy this deal, it’s actually a commitment of a “minimum” of six months.
This means that you’re tied into this deal, paying £12 per month, for the entire six-month duration.
You can technically cancel early – but if you decide to terminate your subscription before the six months have passed, your cancellation will only become effective after the conclusion of the six-month term.
Essentially, this means you’re on the hook for the £12 per month, irrespective of when you choose to cancel within that period.
Once those six months are up – your subscription will auto-renew at full price, so you’ll start paying £19.98/month (or more, if the prices happen to change by then). Before that happens, however, you can cancel your subscription.
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.
Is This A Good Deal?
The whole point of cord cutting and streaming TV, in my eyes, 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 rough financial times – just cancel everything.
Long-term contracts with minimum terms take away that flexibility.
If, however, you’re definitely planning to be a NOW subscriber for six months or more (for both Entertainment and Cinema) – then you might as well subscribe to it at the discounted price.
But there are almost always offers and discounts for NOW – so signing up for six months in advance – will be questionable for many.
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