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Posted on April 9th, 2014 by Barry Collins

The insane economics of Sky Now TV

Sky Now TV

A few months ago, after one price rise too many and a waning interest in top-flight football, I decided to cancel my subscription to Sky Sports.

I still get the urge to watch the odd game, and so this weekend – with my once-beloved West Ham giving title-chasing Liverpool a hoof for their money – I decided to investigate Sky Now TV, the broadcaster’s internet TV service. After ten minutes, I was left scratching my head at the sheer insanity of its pricing.

Even though I still have a regular Sky+ box sat under my telly, there is no way to watch Sky Sports on demand via satellite – you either sign up for a Sports bundle, which costs £43.50 per month, or you watch a blue screen where the sports channels used to be.

You can, however, pay for day passes to Sky Sports via Now TV. This gives you 24 hours of access to all of the Sky Sports channels, which is streamed over the internet to a variety of devices, including the Apple TV, games consoles, PCs, tablets or smartphones.

I bought mine via the Apple TV, making a £10 in-app purchase, at which point the economic lunacy of Sky’s offering struck me. Sky could easily let me switch on those sports channels via my Sky+ box on a pay-per-view basis, just like it does for the big boxing matches, at next-to-no cost for the broadcaster. It simply has to flick a switch.

Instead, it’s handing a 30% cut of the fee for in-app payments to Apple, and then picking up the bandwidth bills for the gigabytes of traffic it takes to not only stream the content from its end, but at my end too, because Sky is also my “unlimited” broadband provider.

That’s not the craziest part of Sky’s pricing strategy, however. Sky sells its own Now TV boxes, too, and if you go to the Sky Now website you can order a Sports Bundle which gets you the hardware and five sports day passes for £35. So instead of ordering the £10 Sports channels via my Apple TV, it’s actually cheaper for me to order a new set-top box every five matches, as I’ll only pay £7 per pass!

Which is exactly what I’ll be doing, until someone in Sky’s strategy department comes to their senses…

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15 Responses to “ The insane economics of Sky Now TV ”

  1. Marcin Says:
    April 9th, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    *Get your FREE Sky Sports Day Pass with 10, 12 and 15 promotional packs of Carling (not my taste)
    *Google out free passes if want to watch through Now TV (takes couple of mins to find working code)
    * not legal, but best way is google “bloodzeed streams” for HD EPL – use Acestream

  2. Philip Walduck Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 6:04 am

    This only makes sense if you only want to watch specific sports events. A full time subscription via this method would cost £300 per month if you wanted to watch every football game that was on, this makes the £43 per month much more reasonable

  3. steve Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I agree that he pricing is all over the shop, but streaming is where TV is heading. I agree that they should give viewers the option of watching on the TV via a Sky HD+ box instead of streaming as many people get lousy speeds. And i think that £10 per match is way over the top, a fiver and i’m in.

  4. Surefire Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 8:53 am

    TV may be ‘headed’ for streaming but at the rate our pathetic government is handling broadband provision (and it is, ultimately, the responsibility of government to ensure that utilities are available and properly regulated) it will be a very long time becoming mainstream.

  5. Synatpic_Fire Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 10:43 am

    A tenner is s decent amount cash to spend watching a footy match. Depending on what pub you’re in, that could be five pints you get for your tenner!

    Now if your local isn’t showing the 3pm Saturday kick-off games, that’s a whole different Sky pricing issue!

    And one that is annoying shed loads of folk who aren’t even Sky customers.

  6. WebDude Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    For Surefire – perhaps if we could persuade the Govt that HS2 rail project money could be better spent, everyone could have fibre to the property. “Utilities” aren’t all as widely available as some think – only in last 5 years did a small Welsh valley get mains electric, and some rural areas of UK don’t have gas mains yet {perhaps never} hence use of oil or LPG.

  7. PeakeCentral Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    WebDude, I live two miles north of Tewkesbury and one mile from a motorway junction and we’ll never have gas in our village. And when BT ran in fibre, it only reached half the village. Streaming is out of the question for the other half of the village, and I think the death of satellite delivery has been predicted only by the digerati.

  8. Steven Ling Says:
    April 10th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    You are right about Sky’s pricing policy, but to advocate buying a new YouView box every five matches is crazy and environmentally irresponsible. There is already a growing problem with tech waste now. Your proposition takes no account of the natural resources required to produce the devices (Rare Earth metals etc).

    in an ideal world, all consumer electronics would be recycled. We don’t live in that world. Despite UK/EU legal requirements to “responsibly” dispose of electronic waste, we know most of it stills ends up as landfill: responsible disposal is no guarantee that used electronics will be recycled.

    Any pricing policy that encourages consumers to treat electronic hardware as a disposable commodity is a resource and environmental disaster and ought to be punishable.

    You can’t blame the more savvy consumers for wanting to get the best deal they can, but you can blame businesses whose pricing encourages such wasteful consumption.

  9. Carl Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 11:18 am

    I got a NOWTV box for a tenner, and sideloaded PLEX media server onto it so i can stream media from the laptop. Add the free codes from Carling, and it works well. I only watch occasional games anyway and as a friend has given me a logon for BT Sports, It all suits me thankyouverymuch!

  10. steve cassidy Says:
    April 11th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    re the bandwidth thing; I expect Apple TV uses some proprietary compression or protocol to ship the video. General-purpose IP is painfully inefficient at specific data types and just the saving from a bit of hack and squash action might be enough to make the economics stack up…

  11. r1sh12 Says:
    April 23rd, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    This is quite amusing.
    The craziest thing, the now TV boxes are running the ‘dodgy sky box’ market too.
    You can buy a dodgy sky box for £20 and pay £20 for 1 year subscription.
    Every channel is broadcasted over the internet to the box with the obvious network related issues from time to time.
    More people using the channel, its reliability and picture quality reduces.

    But this now tv pay scheme is pretty stupid, but a new £35 pass with a box every 7 games. You could change it to a plex media streamer or sell it for £7 on ebay/ amazon is in almost new condition and get money back.
    Sky are insane – I do not condone stealing video/ music but if it should happen to anyone it should be sky.

    I actually pay for sky (family want it) but I pay £16 for the most basic pack and I have bt sports free. Friends have sky sports so we just go different houses to watch footy.
    Its nba at my house on a nice 55 inch f8000 samsung tv

  12. Brian Smith Says:
    May 12th, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Sky’s raison d’etre vanished when the EU forced the Premier league to split their TV rights contract between Sky and, as it turned out, BT.

    I can’t wait to end my Sky contract and am only held up because I stupidly bought a BT broadband contract from their business provider because I needed a static IP address at the time and BT don’t provide those via their retail division.)
    I will switch to BT’s PlusNet offering when I’m no longer locked into BT Business and buy their BT Sports offering and their Sky films package and reduce my monthly costs by I estimate at least £100. Roll on out of contract day.
    An alternative for those that like the comfort of their Sky contract is to switch annually taking out a new 12 month contract in the name of any 18+ year old living in the house. Swap from the husban’ds name to the wife’s, to any grown up child/children and then back again. You’ll get the latest box technology and all the goodies they offer on new contracts.
    Sky’s pricing levels and strategy are both abysmal fails.

  13. James Hawkins Says:
    May 13th, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I bought a NowTV box to watch the final matches of the Premiership on Sunday 13/05/2014.

    Approximately three minutes into the game the service failed with an infuriating message “Opps this is not working – try again later”. Unsurprisingly the football matches in progress were not stopped until Sky got their cr*p together. After trying (and failing) to get it working on my iPad and PC I went down the pub.

    Sent a snotty message to Sky and they refunded my money and gave me an extra pass.

    Truly epic fail on the biggest day of the football season – muppets!

  14. Dominik Says:
    June 15th, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Epic. But whats another step? I wanna escape this

  15. Jonathan Taylor Says:
    July 23rd, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Thanks for the article. For those who live outside UK and want to access Now TV, you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.


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