Sky vs NOW TV - Which is better?

ByKim Staples
Watching Sky in living room

Both are run by the same company, both offer broadband and TV bundles, and they’re the only two ways you can get Sky Atlantic live on your telly - but which provider is best?

Sky TV and NOW TV seem awfully similar, but there's actually a few major differences that make these two providers stand apart from each other. Read on and we'll tell you everything you need to know - and help you pick the best deal for you.

Wondering whether NOW TV is the best way to get Sky Cinema? Check out our complete guide here.

At a glance

  Sky NOW TV
Broadband packages Broadband Unlimited (up to 17Mb), Fibre (up to 38Mb, 25GB download limit), Fibre Unlimited (up to 38Mb), Fibre Max (up to 76mb) Brilliant Broadband (up to 17Mb), Fab Fibre (up to 38Mb), Super Fibre (up to 76Mb)
Fibre Yes - up to 76Mb download speed Yes - up to 76Mb download speed
TV packages Original and Sky Q (270 channels), Variety and Sky Q (300 channels), Box Sets and Sky Q (350+ channels) Freeview, Entertainment Pass (11 channels), Sky Cinema Pass, Sky Sports Pass, Kids Pass (6 channels)
Recording Yes, up to 1000 hours (Sky Q 2TB box) No
HD Yes, up to 4K on compatible devices Yes, up to 720p on most devices
Set top box Sky Q 1TB or 2TB NOW TV Box or NOW TV Smart Box
Contract lengths 12 months, 18 months 1 month, 12 months
Key features Top quality TV, HD and surround sound, latest tech Short term contracts, value for money, flexibility

Price

The cost of each provider depends on what kind of package you want and what deals are available - but generally speaking, NOW TV is lower in price.

Sky TV deals

Sky
Sky
Sky
Sky
Original Bundle + Broadband Unlimited Variety Bundle + Broadband Unlimited Box Sets Bundle + Broadband Unlimited Sports Bundle + Broadband Unlimited
£564.71 Total first year cost £645.11 Total first year cost £693.35 Total first year cost £785.87 Total first year cost
£43.73 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract £50.43 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract £54.45 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract £62.16 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go
Channels 113 Channels 154 Channels 160 Channels 119
33% off Sky TV Offer ends 05/06/17 33% off Sky TV Offer ends 05/06/17 33% off Sky TV Offer ends 05/06/17 33% off Sky TV Offer ends 05/06/17
Go
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call Sky on 0800 151 2878
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm

NOW TV deals

NOW TV
NOW TV
NOW TV
Entertainment Pass + Brilliant Broadband Combo (1 month) Sky Cinema Pass + Brilliant Broadband Combo (1 month) Sky Sports Pass + Brilliant Broadband Combo (1 month)
£398.88 Total first year cost £434.88 Total first year cost £722.88 Total first year cost
£24.99 p/m for 1 month £44.00 setup costs 1 month contract £27.99 p/m for 1 month £44.00 setup costs 1 month contract £51.99 p/m for 1 month £44.00 setup costs 1 month contract
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go
Channels 91 Channels 89 Channels 85
Over 250 box sets New Premier Every Day! Monthly rolling contract
Go Go Go

Packages

With Sky, you can take out broadband, home phone, or its TV service - or you can bundle them together into a single convenient (and cheaper) package. TV comes in three flavours, ranging from 270 channels to over 350+, and all contracts last either 12 or 18 months.

NOW TV takes a slightly different approach. When you sign up, you get a bundle of broadband, home phone, and a TV box with Freeview. Onto that, you can add any of its TV Passes: the Entertainment Pass, Kids Pass, Sky Sports Pass, or Sky Cinema Pass. You're contracted in for either 12 months, or - if you're happy to pay a higher setup fee - just 30 days on a rolling contract.

Both let you sign up to just their TV services, too, so you can pair them up with whatever broadband you like.

Verdict

NOW TV gives you by far the most flexibility, thanks to one-month rolling contracts and short-term TV Passes.

Broadband

Both providers offer pretty much exactly the same broadband, using the Openreach network: standard broadband with download speeds up to 17Mb, or fibre with speeds up to 38Mb or 76Mb. Besides contract length, there's no real difference here.

Verdict

A perfect tie.

Channels

A NOW TV Box will give you just basic Freeview, with around 70 channels, plus whatever you get with your TV Passes. Its main draw, the Entertainment Pass, only gives you 11 channels, but they're good ones: Comedy Central, Discovery, Fox, Gold, ITV Encore, MTV, Nat Geo Wild, Sky 1, Sky Arts, Sky Atlantic, and Sky Living, plus on-demand content from Viceland and ABC Studios.

Sky, meanwhile… well. Depending which package you choose, you can get over 350 channels. Even the most basic one will nab you about 270.

Verdict

Sky's the winner, with more TV channels than you'll know what to do with.

Sky TV interface

Sports and movies

You can get Sky Sports and Sky Cinema with either provider, so that's good.

NOW TV has a couple of advantages here. For a start, taking out a Sky Cinema Pass is cheaper than it is on Sky. And you can get Sky Sports Passes that last just a day, or a week - perfect if there's a specific event you want to catch.

However, Sky has a little something up its sleeve too: BT Sport. Once you're set up with Sky TV, you can call up BT and add it on - it's far from cheap, but ideal for hardcore sports fans. You can't get it on NOW TV. Sky also lets you watch both sports and films in higher definition, including a bit of 4K-resolution content here and there.

Verdict

NOW TV wins for convenience, value, and casual fans, but major sporting types and movie buffs are better off with Sky.

On demand and catch-up

With NOW TV, you'll get basic catch-up, through services like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. You'll also get a good range of on-demand telly with each TV Pass - there's box sets galore with the Entertainment Pass, for instance, but it's limited to just those channels.

It also lets you log in and watch your shows on a massive range of devices: smartphones, tablets, computers, streaming sticks, even other people's TV boxes. Home entertainment isn't just for the home any more, folks.

Sky, on the other hand, has a frankly eye-watering amount of on-demand content. Tons of channels have programmes to catch up on, and if you spring for the top tier package you'll get a whopping 350 box sets included. And you can watch them from anywhere thanks to Sky Go - though you can only register two devices.

Verdict

Sky has more to watch on-demand by a long shot, although where you can watch it all is a bit more limited.

Equipment

A telly package from Sky gives you Sky Q - one of the best TV systems on the market. The set-top box is 4K-ready, can store up to 1000 hours of recordings, has an intuitive interface, and has Sky's 'fluid viewing' - essentially letting you pause a programme in one room, then pick it up where you left off in another. Even the broadband router, the Sky Q Hub, is a goodun, rocking features like dual-band Wi-Fi. Find out more about Sky Q here, or read up on Sky's router here.

There's one downside to Sky's TV equipment, of course: you need a satellite dish. They're a lot of hassle to install, and if you're renting or living in shared property, you may not be able to get one at all.

Meanwhile, NOW TV's hardware isn't quite as impressive, but it's fine, you know? The router you get for NOW TV's broadband is perfectly serviceable, and for Freeview the TV Box is just dandy - you can use over 50 apps such as YouTube, or pause and rewind with the Smart Box.

NOW TV set top box

Verdict

Sky's set top boxes and routers beat NOW TV's hands-down… so long as you're cool with a satellite dish.

Final verdict

Let's not beat about the bush: Sky is better. It's got the best equipment, the most comprehensive TV service you can get in the UK by a country mile, and amazing top-of-the-line home entertainment tech in the form of Sky Q. If you're into your TV, you really can't get better.

However, that doesn't necessarily make it the best choice. NOW TV has a couple of things that Sky doesn't: flexible 30-day contracts on everything, and a more affordable price tag.

If you want the best TV service money can buy, with some excellent broadband to boot, go Sky.

If you just want to watch Game of Thrones or a few movies - or if you're on a budget, or need something temporarily - you won't regret choosing NOW TV.

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