NOW TV Trial – The Story so Far (Days 1-19)

Now TV Trial

Friday (Day 1)

Over the next 30 days, I’ll be reviewing Now TV – with videos, blog posts, etc.  We’ll be looking at what Sky Movies and Sky Sports has to offer as well as the Now TV Entertainment Pass.  Keep coming back to the blog for further updates!

You can also keep updated at my Twitter page @chrisbenson007

So, here is the video for Day 1 – taking a look at the BBC Sport App.  For those of you who just have Freeview, and rely on the Red Button Channel, then the Now TV box gives you access to the BBC Sport App.  When there is more than one live sporting event on, the App enables you to have access to ALL of them.  It also has a good selection of videos from a huge range of sports (Snooker clips, FA Cup goals, etc).

And, tonight on Red Button it’s Gymnastics – but through the BBC Sport App I’m able to watch 2 Pro 12 Rugby Union games which otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see – I can flick between them at my heart’s content.

Of course, next year we have the Olympics – and the App will surely have numerous streams of coverage… there’s also Wimbledon where there’s plenty of courts to watch.  With the FA Cup coverage next week, through the App, you can select mini highlights from an individual game, rather than wait for the goals to come round on the ‘Red Button’ channel.

So, how do you find out what’s on there?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/17151954

Take a look at the website.  For this Saturday example… it says this…

14:30-16:15, Football – Final Score, BBC Red Button

*Final Score continues uninterrupted from 14:30-17:25 on the BBC Sport website & app and Connected TVs.

This means that full coverage is available through the BBC Sport App for example.

Sunday, another example…

16:45-19:00, Rugby League – England v New Zealand, Autumn International, BBC Two (continues uninterrupted until 19:30 on BBC Red Button & Online)

Tuesday, another…

18:30-20:55, Football – 5 Live Final Score, BBC Red Button (continues uninterrupted until 22:30 on connected TV)

So, that’s the BBC Sport App – here’s my video… and keep coming back daily for more in the NOW TV Trial!  Follow me on Twitter @chrisbenson007 for more too!

Saturday (Day 2)

Hello – back for more with the Now TV Trial!  Take a look at the video below – recorded this evening…

Tonight, we look at BBC Iplayer.  Great app of course, with catch up available on a good percentage of programmes which have been shown recently on the BBC platform.

But it’s not just catch up TV available through Iplayer.  Coming soon – Frank Skinner will have an exclusive show on Iplayer… there’s also the BBC Four Collections.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/collections

From Bob’s Full House to Whicker’s World, the Collections are regularly expanding and selected episodes are free all of the time on BBC Iplayer.

As I mention in the video above, Iplayer is handy if you have Freeview because if you select S4C and ‘Watch Live’, you could watch ‘Sgorio’ – Welsh Football live on Saturday evenings, all for free.  There’s also access to football on the BBC Gaelic channel BBC Alba.

I also activated my Sky Movies Pass yesterday – watched a great 2014 film called St Vincent starring Bill Murray, and this morning with the kids we watched ‘The Toy Story That Time Forgot’ – a 20 minute short from the Toy Story series, which was quite good.  Picture quality on both, really good – no buffering, stream was superb.

Back for more tomorrow – hope you’re enjoying the trial so far.

Chris

Sunday (Day 3)

Good evening all…

A shorter post today, but I’ve been over to the other side of the Pennines, to Lancashire, to say happy birthday to my brother Phil, who was 30 yesterday – Phil, many happy returns.

With Day 3 of the trial, we’re looking at the Now TV Account menu – hope you enjoy the video below.

http://www.skysports.com/nowtv

This has a link to all of the Sky Sports passes currently available, £6.99 for a Day Pass, £10.99 for a Week Pass and £31.99 for a Monthly Pass.  With the Monthly Pass, there’s no minimum contract, you can cancel at any time, I think this is a really good feature.

http://www.nowtv.com/bundles

There’s also some starter packs available at the link above – where if you purchase a box, you can acquire some entertainment, movies or sport to start you off – worth a look at.

Monday (Day 4)

I did ask my better half if she fancied watching tonight’s ‘Modern Family’ on Sky1, but we ended up watching a repeat of ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’ and then ‘Sex on Trial’ on BBC3…

I have been using Vimeo today – a great app I’ve only started to use on Now TV recently.  Vimeo is home to lots of original videos – You Tube of course is probably the website/app we use as standard, but I’m slowly getting used to Vimeo.

Tuesday (Day 5)

2:00pm approx

I let my kids watch a Disney film during the afternoon – put on Toy Story using the Sky Movies Pass, and the film starts… then pauses, and buffers.

We try another film, Disney’s Planes.  10 minutes in, the same happens.  This time, the film has managed to continue though.

3:00pm

We give up with the film, I contact Now TV’s ‘Live Chat’ to mention the problems we’ve been having.

Suggestions: “Hard reset the NOW TV Box, insert paper clip or safety pin at the behind of the box and hold it for 10-15 seconds.”

In fairness, the operator wanted me to stay on ‘Live Chat’ and try various options, I was looking after the kids today, I didn’t have time for that – just wanted to give them some feedback.

Wednesday (Day 6)

Watched last week’s episode of Modern Family through the Now TV Entertainment Pass.  Modern Family is really good, now in its 7th season – and has only ever been shown on terrestrial TV in one spell so you may not have seen it (Season 1 was shown on Pick TV, but Pick never showed any more seasons).

Through the Now TV Entertainment Pass you can watch every single episode from the start right up to present date and mostly ad-free (e.g in the episode we watched on Wednesday there’s a very brief advert for Sky 1 half way through before the episode continues again).  Modern Family is just one of hundreds of boxsets available with the Pass – TV has changed, we want to ‘binge-watch’ and broadcasters are realising this.

After yesterday’s problems watching Planes and Toy Story, I can safely say that all is working fine today – no buffering, no pausing, Modern Family played without any interruptions.  Could well have been our broadband connection yesterday – we don’t have the fastest of broadband speeds…

Thursday (Day 7)

Watched a couple of bits through the You Tube app tonight.

1) I’ve been compiling a couple of Bradford City playlists for the last two seasons, with official highlights from each game, so I’m working my way through each match from last season at the moment.

The 2015/16 Bradford City Playlist I’m working on is right here, let me know what you think – maybe you think I should do one for your team!

2) My wife and I watched the new Lidl Christmas commercials (on You Tube there’s the 1 minute TV ad along with 9 other ads – the John Lewis Christmas commercial will be uploaded Friday morning from 8am so there’s obviously viewers on You Tube that advertisers can find).

You can find the Lidl ads right here:

Friday (Day 8)

ITV Player is available through the Now TV app – there is a good range of programming on there… but it’s not perhaps the easiest app to use.

Let’s take for example ‘George and Mildred’ (and why not, classic 1970’s sitcom currently being repeated again on ITV3).  If you select ‘George and Mildred’, the most recent episode will begin playing after the adverts have finished.  But how do you find an episode from earlier in the month?  You have to press play on the most recent episode, let the commercials finish… and then once the episode starts press pause.  You will then see an option to ‘View all episodes’ and play an earlier episode in the series.  On the ITV Player website, this is much easier to do and you can find all episodes from a series a lot faster.

Programmes on ITV Player seem to be more limited than on BBC Iplayer – maybe that’s just my perception.  But in recent months, ITV Player have tried a ‘First Look ‘offering (premiering Sheridan Smith drama Black Work on ITV Player before its showing on ITV).

Saturday (Day 9)

My wife and I start watching ‘Boyhood’ – a film we saw the trailer for a while ago.  At just under 2 hours 45 minutes, it’s certainly a long film, but pretty unique – shot over 12 years, so you actually see the cast get older.  We watched most of the film tonight, leaving an hour for us to watch hopefully tomorrow.  And, once again, after Tuesday’s problems trying to watch Toy Story and Planes, no streaming problems at all, more and more I do believe the issue was with our broadband provider.

We were trying to decide what film to watch, and noticed there’s a lot of archive films available at the touch of a button.  When I think Sky Movies, I think ‘new’ films, but they have films from years gone by too – all genres…  and remember all without commercials or interruption.  For £9.99 a month, that’s pretty good – I get so frustrated with films on commercial TV channels…  you get into a film, then BANG!  There comes the ad break.  And some movie channels have annoying logos permanently fixed in the corner of the screen – none of these on Sky Movies, just shown as the director intended.

Sunday (Day 10)

Tried an app called Happy Kids 2 today – this is a free app, which you can download via the Channel Store.  It’s great, my three year old son loved it today.  There’s videos of nursery rhymes he recognises and sings at playgroup, he can learn and build confidence with letters and numbers – there’s hours of stuff on there.

Thanks to James Taylor for the tweet who asked if Now TV currently has a subtitle facility.  As explained in the video above, unfortunately it’s a no… see the link below which confirms this:

http://help.nowtv.com/article/Subtitles

The BBC Iplayer App has subtitles available but as of November 2015, no programmes on Now TV carry subtitles – if this changes, I will let you know right here on this blog!

Monday (Day 11)

Starting today, I have a trial of Sky Sports – so, if you have any questions about this or any other part of Now TV… keep them coming.

I activate a 24 Hour Sky Sports Pass during the evening, although it’s been my daughter’s 2nd birthday party today so I don’t get chance to watch anything before bed!

Tuesday (Day 12)

8:06am – I watch about 20 minutes of Sky Sports this morning whilst the kids are playing happily!  And literally, that’s all I get chance to watch with my 24 hour Sky Sports Pass – not really worth £6.99 today!  But that’s not Sky Sports’s fault, I’ve just been busy!  In the 20 minutes I saw, I watched some of last night’s Grand Slam of Darts as well as the World Golf Championship, which was quite entertaining.

There is one criticism of the midweek Sky Sports schedule – there’s not much on there.  Well, there is… there’s Sky Sports 1-5 and Sky Sports F1, but take the Grand Slam of Darts as an example, this is a live event, but Monday’s coverage (4 hours long) was repeated at least twice on Sky Sports channels on Tuesday before the next day’s coverage started!  Do Sky Sports need all the channels they have?  The answer to that is yes, at certain times, they do – but this seems to be a much quieter week for the viewer.  If you’re going to buy a £6.99 Day Pass, then you’re probably going to buy it at the weekend to watch the Premier League football.  And, if you activate the pass at 5:30 on a Saturday evening, you would get to see…

  1. The game at 5:30 on a Saturday shown live
  2. The game at 8pm shown delayed from earlier in the day
  3. 50 minutes of highlights from another 3pm Saturday fixture
  4. A Sunday lunchtime game from the Premier League
  5. Most of the 4pm Premier League Sunday game shown live – you’d miss the last 20 minutes or so if a day pass was started at 5:30pm Saturday.

Wednesday (Day 13)

A Now TV-free evening tonight, I watch ‘Class of ’92’, the BBC1 documentary from last week, and some of the Champion of Champions Snooker on ITV4.  Back for more tomorrow.

Thursday (Day 14)

Whilst watching Jeff Lynne’s ELO in concert on BBC Red Button, I get in the mood to listen to some more music.  And that is where the Now TV box comes into its element.  You have a few choices:

  1. Vevo – Official music videos, all totally authorised and endorsed.  Good selection on here, some artists don’t feature, but excellent picture quality and if you create an account you can build up your own playlists to watch at your convenience.
  2. You Tube – We all know You Tube, you can find official and unofficial music material on there… and if you sign into You Tube using your Google account, you can synchronise playlists so there appear on your Now TV You Tube App interface.
  3. Spotify – Premium Spotify is available through the Now TV app, which means commercial-free music with no interruptions.  If you haven’t used Spotify yet, seriously it’s brilliant.  As with Vevo, some artists haven’t arrived on Spotify yet (don’t go expecting The Beatles to be on there!), but there’s plenty of full back catalogues on there from artists you will like.  My tip – try using ‘Free’ Spotify first on your PC, Laptop etc, see if you like it – it’s really easy to use.  If you like it, and don’t want the ads, then subscribe to Premium Spotify.

Friday (Day 15)

Thank you Channel 4 for ‘All 4’ – which out of the free-to-air catch up services, I think it’s the best by a mile.  There are hundreds of hours of archive programming on there, programmes going right back to Channel 4’s launch in 1982!

I’ve been watching Series 9 of Peep Show this week and Series 2 of Catastrophe.  Both shows are featured on All 4, as well as comedy classics such as Whose Line Is It Anyway, Drop The Dead Donkey and other Channel 4 favourites such as Location, Location, Location, One Born Every Minute…  all for free remember!  I’ve watched Peep Show Series 1-8 but as Series 9 is the last series, I might have to give the show another run once it’s finished.  And we’ve not seen Catastrophe Series 1 so All 4 means we can watch that…  And… Toast of London Series 3 starts on Channel 4 this week, again I’ve not seen Series 1-2 so I can use All 4 for this.  Seriously, there’s something for everyone on here.  Catch up programming as you’d expect from the last 30 days and plenty from the last 30 or so years along the way.  The app is really easy to use via the Now TV box – easy to find programmes, and next year there will be a choice of foreign language drama to watch at the touch of a button, with eventually 600 hours of drama there on All4 to choose from – the online selection will be titled ‘Walter Presents’ (see below)

http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/walter-presents-the-best-foreign-language-drama-from-around-the-world

Saturday (Day 16)

Activate a Sky Sports Day Pass at lunchtime which I’d won on Twitter last weekend of all places!  My 2nd Football team is Wigan Athletic and they were playing live on Sky Sports this lunchtime against Rochdale at a very wet Spotland.  Wigan won 2-0, I managed to catch most of the second half.

I also managed to catch the first of this evening’s quarter finals in the Grand Slam of Darts – great match, Sky Sports really does excel in its sports coverage, you can see the high production values, they really come across.

Even on a non-Premier League Saturday, there’s still enough sport to wet the appetite.  Football League games… there’s been Euro 2016 play off games this weekend… Cricket and Golf from around the world of course full coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Sunday (Day 17)

After a day out visiting friends (Jill and Will thanks for the lemon liqueurs!), me and my wife spend tonight trying to switch broadband providers.  How ironic, that during the process our broadband crashes, so we can’t complete the process.  That’s showbiz.  Now TV had kindly sent me a Sky Sports Week Pass to look at their channels – I was going to activate this tonight, but the code isn’t working :-(.  So, in it’s absence I’ve gazed at the Champion of Champions Snooker final on ITV4 (although wasn’t the greatest of finals, one frame this evening was almost an hour long, I reckon ITV4 will have been screaming in desperation for a commercial break by that point!)

Monday (Day 18)

The NOW TV Entertainment Pass at £6.99 a month is bloody good value.  You get 13 premium channels – yes, you get a lot more channels on Sky and Virgin, but how many of them do you actually watch?  Keep a list for a week of what you watch on those platforms, and for most of you I reckon the majority of your viewing will be available through the Now TV Entertainment Pass.

You get Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic – four great Sky channels and each of them has a great selection of content available at the touch of a button, as well as being able to watch the channels ‘live’.

ITV Encore, a Sky exclusive channel is on here too – it could have more content from the ITV archives, but it’s not a bad little channel (the same programmes do tend to be repeated over and over).

GOLD, a UKTV channel is full of classic comedy – as well as more and more original programming these days (for example recently their own sitcom Bull aired, starring Robert Lindsay and Maureen Lipman).  Only Fools and Horses, Miranda, The Vicar of Dibley and Fawlty Towers regularly feature.  I’m sentimental, I prefer Gold when it was UK Gold back in the early 1990’s – and it screened dramas such as Edward Woodward in Callan and rare sitcoms that will never see the light of day again 😦

Nick Jr is brilliant for my two youngsters – they love Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly and more recently Paw Patrol. For older kids, there’s the Disney Channel.

Discovery Channel is on here too – with hours of brilliant documentaries.  Yes, we have Quest on Freeview which gets some Discovery programming but is the jewel in the crown.

ABC Studios features too – with numerous boxsets from their archive – Desperate Housewives, Marvel’s Agents of Shield…

Tuesday (Day 19)

Today, I’ve done another video showing you a bit of the interface to Sky Movies, hope it’s helpful.  Please keep your comments coming and any questions which you may have.

 

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