NOW TV unveils “most advanced” set top box yet
James R | On 30, Jan 2016
NOW has unveiled its “most advanced” set top box.
The NOW Smart Box will launch later this year, as the cord-cutting VOD service continues to grow. Owned by Sky, the streaming service offers contract-free access to Sky, broken down into three packages: Sky Movies for £9.99 a month (over 1,000 movies on-demand), Sky Sports (all 7 Sky Sports channels live) for £8.99 a day or £14.99 a week, and Sky Entertainment for £7.99 a month (13 pay-TV channels live and on-demand, including Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Living, FOX, MTV and Nickelodeon).
The set top box is manufactured by Roku, but is branded by Sky, removing subscription rivals such as Netflix. However, as one of the few set top boxes to offer customers access to all Freeview catch-up platforms, and sold at a lower price than other media devices, the NOW Box has won many fans, thanks to both its affordability and its Sky content, such as Game of Thrones.
The latest box will take that one step further, bring together Sky’s pay-TV content and the free catch-up apps with over 60 live free-to-air channels – a major evolution in the NOW brand.
“This will be our most advanced NOW product to date and will offer a streaming service to customers who want to access live free-to-air television alongside some pay content, all in one integrated offering,” said Sky this month, when announcing its results for the final quarter of 2015.
Exact details are unknown, but the box bears a striking similarity to the latest Roku 4 box, which boasts a quad-core processor to support 4K visuals and 60 frames-per-second video streaming. With Sky planning to launch its own Ultra HD service later this year, it seems likely that NOW will follow suit to some degree. (Updated to add: Although it is worth noting that despite the current hardware supporting 1080p visuals, NOW only streams up to 720p for on-demand titles and SD quality streaming for live movies and TV.)
In the meantime, existing NOW subscribers will receive an upgraded interface for their current boxes, as a new integrated homepage gives customers editorial recommendations on what to watch and the catch-up section becomes curated directly by content partners. This will be rolled out from February.
Gidon Katz, Director of NOW, comments: “The launch of our new homepage on the NOW Box will make it easier than ever for our customers to quickly find and watch their favourite shows. And when the new NOW Smart Box arrives later this year, it will be the perfect one-stop box to get a contract-free, flexible way of watching the best of pay TV and free-to-air content all in one place.”
Pricing details and further information will be made available later this year, but one thing is guaranteed: it will be cheeper than the Sky Q box, which Sky unveiled yesterday. You can find out more about that here – or read our review of the latest NOW Box.