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Sky’s Now TV Launches Contract-Free U.K. Triple-Play Bundle

LONDON — European pay-TV giant Sky is reaching out to commitment-phobes by launching what it called Britain’s first contract-free triple-play bundle, comprising TV, broadband and telephone, through its Now TV standalone streaming service.

Available from July in the U.K., the Now TV Combo comes complete with a new set-top box, combining a range of live and on-demand TV with up to 35 pay TV channels and more than 60 free-to-air channels. Users can pay for services on a monthly basis without any longer-term commitment.

Prices range from £9.99 ($13.42) to £51.99 ($69.88) depending on which of the four streaming passes are selected. Customers will also pay line rental at $24.16 per month and a onetime set-up fee of $53.75 or $67.20, depending on the broadband speed.

Launched in 2012, Now TV plays a major part in Sky chief Jeremy Darroch’s strategy to offer a wide range of services, from pay-as-you-go OTT offers to high-end pay-TV services. The move also marks a major step in the Rupert Murdoch-owned outfit’s battle to dominate the pay-TV landscape, taking aim at other triple-play providers in the territory such as BT and TalkTalk.

“Now TV has got something for everyone — TV they love to watch, when they want and on their own terms,” said Now TV managing director Gidon Katz. “We know people want the freedom and control of a no-strings relationship when it comes to choosing their TV, broadband and call package, so now the Now TV Combo is the product and service they deserve.”

The Now TV smart box is also available to buy for a standalone price of $53.74.

Strategy Analytics’ David Mercer sees the launch as part of Sky’s attempt to expand its customer base by increasing penetration among Freeview households, “targeting a more ‘pay-as-you-go’ mindset – those who see annual contracts as too risky financially but are happy to occasionally dip into premium sport and film content.”

“More than a third of U.K. homes use Freeview as their only TV service, and we estimate that 4% of U.K. homes currently own a Now TV box, so there’s plenty of opportunity.” Mercer said. “The £9.99 ($13.42) entry-level package will be of interest to free TV viewers tempted by the flexibility of switching in and out of pay TV, as well as those looking to get a low-cost broadband and TV bundle.”

The Now TV box will feature a new live pause functionality of up to 30 minutes and gives consumers an option between four packages: Entertainment Pass (11 channels not on Freeview and 250 box sets), Sky Cinema Pass (more than 1,000 on-demand movies with a new premiere daily), Sky Sports Pass (including events from seven Sky Sports channels) and Kids Pass (includes six dedicated channels and a host of on-demand episodes).

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