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Why NOWTV is much more than a SKY OTT spin-off

James Alexander, strategy & proposition director, NOWTV
James Alexander, strategy & proposition director, NOWTV

What makes NOWTV so successful? There are several reasons, according to NowTV strategy & proposition director James Alexander.

“Firstly, it is an incredibly hot market at the moment, with barriers falling away all the time,” he told attendees at the OTTtv World Summit. “Broadband speeds have increased. Awareness is growing, everyone knows who Netflix are. There are more connected devices in the home and we are getting better and better content.”

On this last point, Alexander said that confidence is growing in producing good quality content for OTT. “The players have gained confidence and put more great content into this market. And we have quite unashamedly ridden on the back of this,” he admitted

Of course, NOWTV has another key driver for success. “We couldn’t be successful without Sky, but what is making us really successful is stepping away from Sky. We are a good use case for stepping away from the parent brand.”

He added this point of differentiation has allowed NOWTV and SKY to reach distinct audiences. In the case of NOWTV, that means customers who want to only pay for the TV the consume and would rarely be interested in a SKY package.


“We now have two brands in consumer’s mind, you have sky, the full fat, pay-TV provider in SKY that offers everything. And then you have NOWTV, which is lean and provides you with the content you want at the price point you want,” Alexander explains.

Another key point in NOWTV’s success to date is being bold. “We have pushed into things SKY wouldn’t have. We have constantly challenged ourselves to re-invent. From things like John Cleese talking about the Walking Dead, we have pushed. We’ve been able to take advantage of a whole range of things others couldn’t,” he told delegates.

As part of this, NOWTV has “embraced” its partnership Roku, which “has opened doors to lots of new customers”. “This is completely different for Sky, you now have to work with a partner, which is not their place of comfort, or at least not traditionally,” he explained.

“We have also learnt to fail fast and fix quickly. Most importantly it is failing in the direction of the customer,” Alexander said, citing the early days when NOWTV was streaming not only Monday night Premier League matches, but also Game of Thrones.

“For about five of the ten week run of Game of Thrones our services fell over. It was a PR disaster. Our approach was to step into the problem and fix the problems as they appeared. We actively compensated customers during this period and for about six months it felt like we were actually paying customers use our service,” he said.

“Sky were incredibly supportive in this and signed off compensations within in 15 minutes. But now we are in a much better place, with much better service. We still find bottlenecks, but respond so much better,” he added.

And where next for NOWTV? “We make sure we are part of the big company’s plans,” Alexander said. “We see the market being hot for the next five years. We are going to continue to push boundaries and are always looking for new partners to work with.”

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