Another day, another OTT launch. This time BSkyB’s Now TV. Julian Clover was there.
The contrast in the launch of Now TV against that of YouView almost two weeks previous were clear. Whereas the PSB-Telco hybrid project was dark, Now TV was bright.
After a few short speeches at the Covent Garden location the assembled press was instantly directed towards a series of ‘rooms’ where assorted devices capable of receiving Sky’s new pay-as-you-go entertainment service were on display.
At YouView it was all by appointment, and not everyone got to play.
Strictly speaking Now TV is not in competition with YouView, but with the OTT entertainment services of Netflix and Lovefilm. Now TV itself is one of the launch content partners of YouView.
But is Now TV really in competition with the two big OTT providers? There have been plenty of announcements of the content deals that have been secured by both Lovefilm and Netflix, but more often than not these are secondary pay-TV windows, and Now TV can lean on its parent’s access to sports rights.
Sky has performed a subtle balancing act with the branding of Now TV, the Sky brand appearing in the logo as being ‘powered by’, maintaining the connection while declaring independence of the mother ship.
Then there is the pricing for the subscription service; £15 per month is more than double that you would expect to pay for Netflix and Lovefilm combined, but remember the rights involved here. It is also clear that Sky has no intention of letting its service erode that of the value-packed DTH service.
Here there is already Sky Go, so it is unlikely that any Sky subscriber will take Now TV as well. With the two working together in part there will be no device – and there are many including iPhone, iPad, Roku and PlayStation – where you won’t be able to find the two products.
The only disappointment is perhaps the inability to stream from tablets and smartphones to a connected TV – this apparently at the behest of the rights holders.
So what we have in Now TV is a partially defensive product that actually opens up a niche between first run pay-TV and the new on demand services. We welcome competition.