NOW TV has scrapped a price rise planned for the end of this month following a string of technical problems that left the streaming service unusable for some customers.
Sky’s video on-demand platform allows non-Sky customers to watch TV shows and movies live and on-demand, giving George RR Martin fans the chance to watch Game of Thrones online legally in the UK for the first time. Shows such as 24: Live Another Day and Mad Men Season 7 are also available.
The service, though, has been plagued by technical problems in the last month. The live stream of Sky Atlantic dropped on the first night of Game of Thrones Season 4, a period when a large volume of users were trying to access it. The fault, which seems to occur during times of peak traffic, could be an unfortunate deterrent to those seeking to stream things via legal means for the first time, but has also dented Sky’s plans to hike its monthly subscription cost.
The Entertainment Month Pass, which gives access to TV shows, is charged at £4.99 a month, no contract. The Sky Cinema Month Pass, which gives access to all of the Sky Movies catalogue, costs £8.99 a month, no contract. Those were set to increase to £6.99 and £9.99 a month respectively on Friday 29th May, but will remain at their current levels for the time being. (Update: Prices will now rise in October 2014.)
NOW TV explicitly cited poor service as the reason behind the decision.
“Recently we haven’t delivered the consistently high-quality service customers rightly expect from us; therefore we have decided to delay the planned price rise for the time being,” NOW TV told us.
NOW TV offers Sports Pass refund
NOW TV also includes a Sports Pass, which provides 24 hours of access to all of the Sky Sports channels live. The final day of the 2014 Premier League, when Sky Sports were showing three different matches – including title decider Manchester City vs West Ham – was another busy period for the service. It dropped once again.
“We’re aware that some customers may be currently unable to watch NOW TV,” NOW TV wrote on their help website just after 3pm, when the matches kicked off.
“You may experience:
– Interruption to playout if you’re already watching
– An “Oops, something went wrong” error message
This doesn’t affect all customers, and we’re working on fixing it for everybody as quickly as possible. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience in the meantime.”
At 5.40pm, after the matches had finished, they added that the service was “now back up and running”.
They added that a refund would be given to any affected customers.
“We’d like to apologise again for this afternoon’s issues. We’re working as hard as we can to get things running as soon as possible.
“We’ll be contacting all sports pass customers automatically to provide a refund or a replacement pass. You don’t need to do anything to make this happen.”
With its access to sports, Game of Thrones and other TV content, Sky’s NOW TV is not just a rival to Netflix but a huge (and often successful) step in the competition against piracy. With angry customers on the NOW TV website complaining about the level of service provided, though, if these kind of problems are not fixed permanently, it could be a serious obstacle in the take-up of legal streaming. The impact upon Sky’s price rises is a blow to the company, but the wider impact could be a blow to the whole industry.