Sky's Now TV Streaming Service Launches U.K. Triple-Play Bundle Without Contract

Courtesy of Sky

The pan-European giant, led by CEO Jeremy Darroch, has seen the OTT service as a way to reach consumers looking for pay-as-you go options.

Pan-European pay TV giant Sky on Wednesday unveiled what it said is the U.K.'s first contract-free triple-play bundle of TV, broadband and telephony services without a contract via its Now TV stand-alone streaming service in the U.K. and Ireland.

Available in July, the so-called Now TV Combo comes with a new set-top box, combining live and on-demand TV content with up to 35 pay TV and more than 60 free-to-air channels.

The TV service packages will start at a monthly cost of £9.99 ($13.37). Customers also will pay line rental at $24.06 per month. The service comes with a one-time setup fee of $53.53 or $66.91, depending on the broadband package.

The Now TV OTT service, launched in 2012, has been part of Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch and his team's strategy to offer a portfolio of services, from pay-as-you-go OTT offers to high-end full-fledged pay TV services, to reach consumers with different needs. Darroch also has called Now TV a business with growth potential abroad.

"Now TV has got something for everyone — TV they love to watch, when they want and on their own terms," said Gidon Katz, managing director of Now TV. "With the Now TV Combo, we’re pushing the boundaries again with the U.K.’s first contract-free triple-play bundle. Plus, our customers will get the benefits of our new Now TV Smart Box that brings together free-to-air and pay TV shows seamlessly. We know people want the freedom and control of a no-strings relationship when it comes to choosing their TV, broadband and call package, so the Now TV Combo is the product and service they deserve."

David Mercer, principal analyst, digital consumer practice at Strategy Analytics, said Wednesday's move is designed to grow the reach of Now TV. "By launching the U.K.'s first service package combining online pay TV, free TV, broadband and phone calls, Now TV not only targets Freeview, but other triple-play providers like TalkTalk and BT," he said. "The £9.99 entry level package will be of interest to free TV viewers tempted by the flexibility of switching in and out of pay TV, as well as those looking to get a low cost broadband/TV bundle.

Freeview is Britain's digital terrestrial TV platform, operated by a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and transmitter operator Arqiva.

Added Mercer: "The fact the new smart box combines free digital TV channels with internet TV and video services in one interface should make life easier for people who want everything in one place without switching between different boxes."

The new Now TV box has a live pause function that works up to 30 minutes. It "means you never need miss a moment of the action from phone calls or tea-making interruptions," Sky said. "It’s also easy to turn your standard TV into a smart TV with the new box; simply connect the box to a digital TV aerial and broadband to start watching instantly."

Consumers can choose one or more Now TV month passes, which include its Entertainment Pass, Sky Cinema Pass, Sky Sports Pass and Kids Pass, three unlimited broadband options at different speeds and three calling package options. The call options are pay as you use, evening and weekends and anytime calls.

21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake in Sky.