Words: Saam Das
Last night, we pottered over to Covent Garden for a press event launching NOW TV, a new online film streaming service, powered by Sky. At face value, it is the most prominent competitor to services like Lovefilm and Netflix, which are slowly but surely expanding. But is it any good?
We were impressed by the service on offer - the initial selection looks promising (2012 releases like '21 Jump Street' and 'The Woman In Black' are already available) and the catalogue is only going to expand. Indeed, the service will also be expanding across a range of devices, beginning with PC/Mac and selected Android phones before launching on iPhone and iPad shortly, followed by Xbox and YouView.
Whether streaming films onto your phone is an appropriately cinematic experience is intensely debatable but we were pleasantly surprised with the smoothness of the experience across all the formats. Part of this goes toward the "adaptive" streaming, which assesses the speed of your internet connection and adapts the quality of the video stream as a result.
A particularly exciting development to come before the end of the year is an integration with Sky Sports, allowing customers to enjoy live football matches, test cricket, and so on. Equally, the introduction of TV programming from the likes of Sky and Sky Atlantic will be a key aspect in expanding the NOW TV customer base in the future - although perhaps it's a shame that this isn't on offer to begin with.
The service is launching in two ways - a 'pay and play' service to purchase individual movies from 99p-£3.49, or a no contract £15 monthly subscription 'Sky Movies pass' which offers unlimited access to over 600 movies. Each Friday will also see new and exclusive films added to the database. With a free 30 day trial available, it's certainly worth investigating.
It all sounds rather promising and we're pleased that Lovefilm and Netflix have further competition, which will hopefully drive forward online streaming in the UK. We're rather lagging behind our US friends in this regard, with Netflix US and Hulu considered as mainstream media outlets. Our infrastructure is holding us back somewhat and we've got a long way to go but services like NOW TV are thankfully pushing us forward.
Find more info at nowtv.com.