Now TV comes to British Apple TV, cutting the cord gets a step closer

Now TV comes to British Apple TV, cutting the cord gets a step closer

Cutting the cord got a genuine step closer with the arrival of a la carte premium TV content on the British Apple TV.

UK Apple TV owners should be seeing a new channel today, with Sky bringing it's online broadcasting platform, Now TV, to Apple's set top box. This is the first instance of a UK domestic provider bringing premium TV content to the Apple TV, and follows on from Sky News appearing earlier this year in a previous update. Not everyone will be familiar with Now TV, so here's what it means now, and for the future for UK Apple TV owners.

Simply put, the door to cutting the cord is now ajar.

What is Now TV?

Sky provides premium pay TV services by way of satellite, but Now TV is an online only affair. It uses the Internet to deliver some of Sky's premium channels such as movies and sport without the requirement for an ongoing monthly subscription to a package. You're able to get just movies, or just sports, without the hassle of a contract or paying for things you don't want.

Now TV has it's own set top box, available for just £10, that is essentially a stripped back Roku box that also offers some of the content from the Roku store. But you can also make use of the service from your iPhone or iPad with the official iOS app.

Currently, Sky Sports – the only available package on the Apple TV – is available for £9.99 for a 24 hour pass. Away from the Apple TV, Movies costs £8.99 per month and Entertainment costs £5.99 a month, without a contract.

What does it mean for the Apple TV in the UK right now?

Simply put, the first domestic premium TV content. But, because of the subscription model for Now TV, you're not required to be a Sky subscriber to watch.

That's important to note, because it differs from the way our American friends get their premium TV content through Apple TV. Apps such as HBO Go still require you to be a HBO subscriber to get at the content. So it's not detaching from the Cable TV model in the slightest.

In effect, Now TV offers Apple TV owners in the UK the first example of something we've craved; a la carte premium TV content subscription. Right now, we're only getting Sky Sports which costs £9.99 for 24 hours – and yes, that is a lot – but it opens the door for the future

So what about the future then?

Having Sky TV on board with a premium offering leaves plenty of room for speculation, but also for delivery. On its own Now TV box, Sky TV offers a subscription model for its own Sky Movies channels. The first thought would be that Sky could soon add this to the Apple TV, offering another competing product to iTunes and Netflix. All without needing to be a Sky TV subscriber.

Now TV also offers an entertainment package that includes channels such as Sky Atlantic, Sky 1 and Sky Living, and again, it's not unfeasible that these too could soon find their way into the Apple TV. Sky has the content and the distribution model, and now has one foot in the Apple TV door.

The bottom line

Initially, the offering is limited and expensive, but it's a step forwards for the Apple TV on British shores. Premium TV content but without the need for a cable or satellite subscription is something we all dream of; getting just what we want, paying for that and getting it on our Apple TV to boot. Sky Sports may cost £9.99 a day, but for that odd Premier League football game your team features in on Sky Sports it's a lot less to pay than the subscription rates.

I'm looking forward to see where Sky takes this, and hopefully the full Now TV offering isn't far behind. Because having it on the Apple TV would make that little black box one positive step towards finally cutting the cord.

Your thoughts

So, are you excited to see this, or rather waiting in anticipation to see where it leads? What else are you desparately wanting on your Apple TV? Sound off in the comments below!

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Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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Reader comments

Now TV comes to British Apple TV, cutting the cord gets a step closer


The pricing model is not yet attractive to consider dumping Sky TV satellite subscription. Though good to see Apple TV UK content getting some much needed additions.

The frustration for me is that I already pay a small fortune to Sky each month, but because Sky and Now TV are 'separate' there's apparently no way to use my Sky subscription for the Now TV.

Presumably they're just trying to protect their lucrative multi room pricing, but it's very annoying!

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Totally understand that. However, for a product like the Apple TV going forward, it's products like Now TV that it needs to be a success, and not something like Sky Go that requires a full pay subscription package. The issue of pricing for subscribers etc is sadly something that we'd want Sky to take care of.

But we all know they won't :/

Good news however I would absolutely love an BBC iPlayer app. From what I understand this still isn't available and if it was it would convince me to buy a Apple TV.

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Sky Go still needs a satellite subscription though. So it would put us in exactly the same position as the Americans with still being tied to a pay TV provider.

Yes it does but its something I use often be it ipad or strangly my xbox as I work away from home. This would be better for me than my xbox because of its size.

I am also not likely to leave sky as I'm happy with what I get at home. Could also do with BT Sport too

IF you have iPhone, iPod, MACbook or iPad you can run the BBC iplayer app and AirPlay to the apple TV. This is what I do, there is no need for the app on the ATV

I know that I am excited. I think that this is great news for everybody who uses an Apple TV. Someone has to start offering these types of services for AppleTV it sometime… just like with all tech services, it starts up big, ugly, and expensive but after little bit of tweaking and refining it becomes a more approachable doorway to things we love to watch. Of course, eventually, other companies and services will follow suit.

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Baby steps, but steps nonetheless. I like Apple TV and I guess already cut the cord because I don't watch broadcast TV. Netflix, Hulu and the occasional iTunes movie rental, suit my lifestyle. Of course, if I were into live sport, I'd be royally stuffed! +1 for BBC iPlayer but I would need to switch my VPN router back and forth between US and UK servers. Small price...

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How is the payment processed? Looks like Apple are taking the payment via iTunes account. I'm more likely to use NowTV if I don't have to set-up an account with Sky.

@arbourable You're right payment is via iTunes

I want to see all of the above BBC iPlayer, 4oD, Demand5, etc and I want to get rid of apps I don't want, but most of all I want an apps store for aTV open to independent developers.

It's a step in the right direction, but very expensive. I would watch WWE Raw every week but I, not paying a fennel for access to six channels for 24 hours when I only want access to one for a few hours.., if they did it like a PPV costing about the same as a tv episode in iTunes I'd be more interested... But yes, it's a step in the right direction.... I don't know if the movies or entertainment now tv packages will really make it into Apple TV as they're direct competitors to iTunes! but who knows? Not me, let's see....

Excited though

I think this is a step in the right direction. As a movie and TV series fan, Apple TV already gives me what I need. We have a young baby in the house so any subscription is not worth it for us. As a football fan, with limited time (see: above), yes I would pay £9.99 for a special match or two and the prospect of premium Sky content through Apple TV is attractive. The model of "buy what I want, exactly when I want it" is the way forward. Of course I would prefer to pay less than £10 for one football match or a movie from Sky, so let's see where the pricing goes. I imagine Sky will not want to cannibalize their own subscription model, so the one-off prices will remain high, but we'll see.

I read this article and assumed that NOW TV would be available on Apple TV so being an Apple customer who recently cancelled my Sky subscription I went out and bought Apple TV. Imagine my horror when I could only access SKY sports and not the entertainment package. I subsequently got an entertainment pass to access Game of Thrones and found that NOW TV doesn't support Airplay for any of it's channels except sport. So the promise in this article hasn't quite delivered for disgruntled sky subscribers who still want some content they provide. The irony is that I can't watch my favourite show actually on a TV. SKY needs to sort this out

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.

I am able to do that with Unotelly on my Apple TV. However I am not able to watch anything because to subscribe to the Entertainment or Movie passes I need a UK Credit Card, I live in India and so my credit card is issued here. NOW TV does not accept PayPal either. I have heard people have found ways to solve this but I have not been able to track any down. Would much appreciate any suggestions you may have.
Thank you