British pay-TV provider Sky has released their own Apple TV competing streaming box under their Now TV brand. The box – which is essentially a Roku box re-branded – costs a ridiculously low £9.99 including shipping, and will stream services from Now TV, Spotify and the BBC among others. From the Now TV announcement:
Despite the explosion in devices such as games consoles and connected TVs, there are still up to tens of millions of TVs in the UK that can’t currently connect to the internet. If you own one of these TVs, the NOW TV Box is the perfect way to watch your favourite content back on the big screen.
The Apple TV already sets the bar as far as TV-connected streaming boxes goes, with a decent selection of content available in an already reasonably priced package. Google now has Chromecast, a $35 dongle that brings connected content to your TV via your Android or iOS device, but Sky has managed to price theirs so low that it becomes a true impulse buy.
But, in being only £9.99, the Now TV box is effectively subsidized. In buying one, to get to the premium content you'll require a paid subscription either to Now TV or the Sky Movie pass. A 30-day free trial of the latter is available to get you up and running, but it's not terribly clear whether or not you'll need to keep paying a subscription in order to access the non-Sky content after that 30-days such as Spotify, Flickr, BBC iPlayer and Demand 5. If that's the case, it's a disappointment, but you can't fault Sky for their business model in trying to get people to adopt their online platform.
It also poses a good question in relation to the Apple TV, especially with rumors being rife about a hook-up with Time Warner Cable. Now TV offers – albeit at a pretty steep price – a la carte subscriptions to Sky Sports, a premium pay-channel package, in daily installments. It's about 10x more expensive than a monthly subscription if you bought it every day, but you're not going to buy it every day. You only pay when you want to watch. Pricing aside, is this the kind of model you'd be happy to see for more services to hit the Apple TV?
Source: Now TV