Sky challenges Lovefilm and Netflix – Sky’s Now TV

Broadcasting giant Sky has announced the launch of its first foray into the pay-as-you-go market.

Going head to head with the likes of Lovefilm and Netflix, Sky’s Now TV is priced at £15 a month.

The service is live first on PCs, Android mobile phones and Macs and is expected to be rolled out later this year onto iOS devices, PS3s, Xboxes and YouView, which is the new BBC-backed internet-connected range of set-top boxes.

Users can either sign up and pay £15 a month for access to more than 600 movies, including the latest film releases as well as older classics. Sky is also offering up to five Sky Movie premieres every Friday. Now TV has promised that the Friday releases will be shown 12 months before they are available on other subscription services and that three-quarters of the top 100 movies available in the UK will be ready for use by its customers.

Or viewers can choose to pay one-off fees to rent movies through Now TV, with rental prices starting at 99p and going up to £3.49 depending on the film’s release date.

It’s just the start of the Now TV offering with sports channels due to be added later this year and entertainment content set to follow in 2012. Channels on offer are expected to include Sky Atlantic, Sky1 and Sky Living.

The aim for Sky is to extend its reach into the 13 million households which, at the moment, do not subscribe to a paid TV service in the UK.

Branding for the new service has deliberately kept the name Sky out of it because the broadcaster doesn’ t want there to be any confusion between the full Sky offering, for which you need a satellite dish and to pay a pricier monthly subscription, and the new pay-as-you-go service which simply needs an internet-connected device.

Managing director of sales and marketing for BSkyB, Stephen van Rooyen, explained: “We are targeting the 13 million non-pay TV households out there with a no commitment, no contract way of delivering Sky content they want in a dip in and dip out way. The whole idea is to have something not Sky – it is purposely designed to attract new customers.”

Now TV is much pricier than its main competitors, with Lovefilm costing from £4.99 a month and Netflix from a pound more.

But Sky has defended its price point, saying: “No other service in the UK is offering as many new films, with five new premieres a week. We didn’t want to offer a service which was similar to ones out there at the moment.”

Just like Lovefilm, customers will be offered a free 30-day trial before deciding whether to go ahead with Sky’s new service.

But the danger for Sky could come if people decide to stop their full Sky subscription in favour of Now TV, particularly customers who are signed up to Sky because of their love of movies.