express– Streaming service NOW, formerly NOW TV, is poised to introduce advert breaks in the coming weeks. As it stands, the streaming service, which is owned and operated by Sky TV, doesn’t include any adverts when watching on-demand films or boxsets. But that looks set to change for those unwilling to spend more each month.
NOW offers contract-free access to a number of exclusive channels from Sky, including Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, and the likes of Sky Atlantic – the home of must-watch US drama series like Mare Of Easttown, Succession, and The Undoing. NOW viewers can stream the live channels, or catch-up on on-demand boxsets. While the live channels already include advert breaks – exactly as they do when tuning in on Sky Q or Virgin Media, NOW is bringing commercial breaks to its on-demand content too.
That contrasts with some of its biggest rivals, including Netflix.
Based on an update to its FAQ help pages, NOW will introduce adverts from July 15, 2021. Unfortunately, the bargain-busting blog doesn’t have any extra details about how the advertisements will work. It’s possible the adverts will be played before and after the show or film – as happens on Amazon Prime Video – or at regular intervals throughout – like you’ll find with terrestrial catch-up services like ITV Hub, All4, and more.
If you don’t want to sit through adverts, NOW will allow subscribers with the optional Boost add-on to skip commercials.
With Sky Q, on-demand episodes and movies are downloaded with adverts at the start – however, these can be fast-forwarded. That will not be possible on NOW, unless subscribers pay the extra £5 a month. The change seems to be part of a broader strategy from NOW to make its optional Boost add-on more appealing to subscribers. While Boost has been around for some time, it has only appealed to those who want the best resolution available from their streaming service.
With the introduction of adverts, not to mention more changes to Boost, the optional add-on might not be quite as “optional” as we first thought…
As well as advert-free streaming, NOW’s Boost add-on bundles High Definition quality (1080p) compared to the standard 720p quality available to everyone else. Boost also brings 50 frames per second streaming to 6 Sky Sports channels, including Main Event, Premier League, F1, Football, Cricket and Golf.
Earlier this year, NOW stripped subscribers of the ability to watch on multiple screens simultaneously. Until recently, all NOW viewers could watch on two screens at the same time – so busy households could stream two different shows in the bedroom on an iPad and on the living room telly at the same time. That feature has now been removed.
Starting July 15, the ability to watch on multiple screens at the same time will also be limited to those who pay extra for NOW Boost.
People who pay for Boost will be able to watch on three screens simultaneously. Finally, Boost improved the audio experience with Dolby Digital 5.1 support too.
With all these new benefits bundled into Boost, it’s no surprise the optional extra is getting a price rise. For new or renewing NOW subscribers, Boost is set to rise by £2 a month. Boost currently costs £3 a month, but will cost £5 a month from July 15, 2021.