Update: Since the original publication of this article, Sky's Now TV service has gone from strength to strength. The addition of a new streaming box dubbed the Smart Box, which allows for watching great Freeview alongside all of Sky's Now TV programmes, has meant that Now TV has a bigger role than ever in many of our lives. Nevertheless, Sky have been keen to keep Now TV and Sky Q seperate, with a distinct set of features for both services. To sign up for Now TV, simply visit the website or call the phone number for Sky.
The problem for big media companies like BT, Sky and Virgin Media is that as much as we all love TV, most of us are pretty sorted for it. Between the strong offering of Freeview, Freeview HD, YouView, Sky +, Virgin and BT Infinity, most of us have already picked a side and are comfortably sat down, enjoying our favourite programmes. As such, it's the job of those companies to try and convince those last few stragglers to come and join their side. Unfortunately for most, that's proven particularly difficult.
The issue has been one of access. Not everyone can have a satellite dish fitted on their home for Sky, and not all homes are wired up for cable TV for Virgin. That's meant that despite how much people might have wanted to switch away from Freeview, they've simply been unable to. That's why Sky's Now TV service was such a genius idea. By using the fast broadband connections that much of the nation now has, Sky have been able to broadcast a selection of their channels to peoples homes using nothing but the Internet connection in their home and a games console, Now TV box, Chromecast or otherwise.
It meant that for the first time, those people not living in the ideal circumstances prescribed for Sky or Virgin could get premium programming like Comedy Central, Sky Atlantic and countless other great programmes and channels. Needless to say, Now TV has had a strong start to life, with the people wondering how to contact Sky to get on board with the service. Until now though, we've been in the dark as to what numbers are behind Sky's claims of 'strong growth' in the service.
According to research by IHS analysts Maria Rua Aguete and Jonathan Broughton, pay-TV subscribers grew by over a million in the last year, which amounts to an increase of 3.5%. By March 31st 2015, there were 16.7 million households subscribing to pay-TV via satellite, cable or IPTV, up from 15.6 million in the same period in 2014. Their research indicates that Sky remain at the top of the heap with 11.9 million customers by Q1 2015, gaining around 400,000 subscribers over the year. All of that growth though is coming from Now TV, which is helping to prove the viability of so-called 'Over the Top' services like Now TV. By their reckoning Now TV current has around 729,000 subscribers, but because of the month to month contract nature of the service, these numbers fluctuate somewhat. Still, those numbers (if correct) would mean that Now TV is the fastest growing pay-TV platform in the country.
With the likes of Sky Atlantic offering exclusive access to Game of Thrones, Mad Men and countless other unmissable programmes, it's hard to imagine that any competing service could be as compelling as Sky's service is. Also coming later in the year is a second generation Now TV box, which promises to bring a faster UI and potentially 1080p streaming of their programming. It would be a compelling new option for those still undecided about complimenting their Freeview set up with high quality pay-TV broadcasting, and we see nothing but success for Now TV in the future.
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