Why the new Xbox and PS4 are key to Now TV success

Why the new Xbox and PS4 are key to NOW TV's success
Consoles are a key audience for NOW TV from Sky

The announcement of Sky's pay-per-view Now TV last year was intriguing on a number of levels - not least because by launching with just Sky Movies, its timing was clearly intended to be disruptive to Netflix's UK launch.

Now a more mature service, the arrival of Sports recently afforded TechRadar the chance to talk to Now TV head Simon Creasey about the enhanced offering, next-gen consoles like the new Xbox and the PS4, and why being on platforms that Sky would consider rivals makes perfect sense.

Creasey is clearly excited about the arrival of Sky Sports content, allowing fans who don't fancy a subscription to check out a Super Sunday of Premier League football and/or the Formula One - and with Sky's premium entertainment programmes like Game of Thrones on the horizon, believes that Now TV's model will become a success.

But first he is quick to insist that Sky is not worried about cannibalising its own audience by offering a non-subscription model.

"The service is definitely not for existing Sky customers," he says. "It's for a new audience that want to dip in and dip out of premium content.

"If the price was ridiculously low then it could [cannibalise], because clearly it's the same product. We're bringing [things like] Sky Movies to a new audience and our role isn't to go to existing customers, it's about repackaging for a new audience.

"My role isn't to worry about the pricing. It's about getting the right product and putting it into the hands of the right audience and to push that forward."

Now TV - looing ahead to a big year of sport

In a big year for premium sports services like Sky Sports - with Ashes cricket, Lions Rugby Union and the obvious big football games all on the slate - the arrival of this content on Now TV changes its nature from a pure movie offering, and will look to attract a whole new audience

"Having Sky Movies was great but being able to bring in Sky Sports to a whole new audience is really exciting," he says.

"We already have a great offering that people subscribe to but the aim is to bring the sport to people who, for whatever reason, don't want to subscribe to a full sport package. Bringing them more flexibility.

"Last year was a pretty big year for things like the Olympics on free-to-air, but this year is really all about Sky Sports with the Lions, Ashes and all the Formula 1 stuff, so its a great year to do it."

Now TV - on mobile devices as well as those connected to your TV

Now TV - on mobile devices as well as those connected to your TV

One of the big targets for Sky's Now TV has been console owners - which of course benefit from being connected and plugged into a television.

With the new Xbox on the horizon and the PS4 already announced, Creasey is hoping that gamers will be looking to Now TV.

"My job is to bring this to the widest possible audience so thing like the next generation of consoles and Smart TVs - we're looking where the audience is and we will respond to that.

"Consoles are definitely the ones that people are currently streaming on, that's where the current audience is.

"As Smart TVs proliferate, then the market will change but right now the big players are the connected consoles.

"Whenever they launch a new console it gets traction pretty quickly with the gamer base moving on from one to the next. There's a big audience and it's not just about gaming - the hardcore is about gaming at the start, but entertainment streaming through those console is growing fast.

"More and more consoles are now connected, and it's on a big TV which we know is still really important. People want to watch sport and movies on their main television."

Now TV on iPad

Now TV on iPad

HD consoles and HD televisions should suggest a move to HD streaming, TechRadar suggests - but Creasey insists that the priority is stability.

"What we have heard from consumers is that first and foremost they want a smooth streaming experience so we have to get basics right like adaptive bit rate. We're up to 720p HD on the Xbox and we'll continue to push where we can."

With Game of Thrones proving a big draw for Sky. the prospect of entertainment content arriving later this year will give NOW TV another string to its bow, although Creasey is quick to point out "We literally just launched sports!" when we raise the question.

"We are straight onto next thing, which is entertainment. Within this year we'll be bringing Sky's premium entertainment to the service as well and that will happen with the Sky Atlantic first-run [programmes], latest and best [American series] that we are known for.

"We will bring all that and complete the set for our service."

Sky's hierarchy are apparently pleased with uptake of Now TV for so far, but the arrival of sport and then entertainment makes this an increasingly complex product. You can't help but feel that the next 12 months - rather than the last six - will represent the toughest test of Sky's pay-per-play service.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.