In January, Sky announced that it would be launching a new online TV service later this year. Designed in large part to allow non-Sky customers to access Sky content, the service would allow its subscribers to access a variety of content, including movies and sports, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Right on schedule, Sky today announced that the service, dubbed NOW TV, will be launching tomorrow.
According to Sky's press release, NOW TV will initially offer Sky Movies, with Sky Sports and other Sky shows coming later in the year. Content can be viewed by UK customers on PCS, Macs and select Android smartphones starting tomorrow; support for iPhone, iPad and Xbox is coming shortly.
Sky Movies is available in two flavors: a "pay & play" flavor that allows viewers to rent individual movies for 99p to £3.49, or a £15 Sky Movies Pass flavor that provides unlimited access to the entire Sky Movies collection. To entice subscriptions, Sky is offering a 30-day trial of the Sky Movies Pass.
As Simon Creasey, the director of NOW TV, sees it, "NOW TV will bring more choice to UK consumers and an easy way to enjoy amazing movies, instantly. Following the explosion in internet-connected devices, we know that more and more people are looking for great content to watch over the web, and that’s where NOW TV comes in...As we move forward, NOW TV will get even bigger and better, with more devices and more platforms in the coming months."
As TheNextWeb's Paul Sawers notes, the launch of NOW TV could be a huge blow to LoveFilm and Netflix, the latter which launched streaming in the UK just this year as part of its big international push. Ironically, the presence of LoveFilm and Netflix in the UK market may have saved Sky from regulator sanctions earlier this year.
Sawers points out that "With Now TV, Sky is promising five new movies each Friday, available at least 12 months before other online subscription services, and it says that around 75% of the top 100 movies will be made available." That's compelling, but perhaps even more compelling will be the availability of Sky Sports through NOW TV thanks to the extensive rights Sky has acquired, including to the Premier League.
Consumers in the UK aren't the only ones who should be keeping an eye on NOW TV: in the United States, cable networks like HBO have refused to consider selling subscriptions directly to would-be customers not interested in a cable package. If NOW TV takes off, it might give them a reason to reconsider.