Streaming service Now planning for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos, as well as 50fps live sports

TV service Now is improving its image.

The OTT streamer reports that it’s ‘working hard’ to introduce 4K HDR as part of its Boost premium service (which currently offers a maximum 1080p resolution). It’s also getting out of the streaming stick business.

While no dates have been offered for the UHD service update, Sky’s Group Chief Production Officer, Fraser Stirling, told Home Cinema Choice that 4K streaming would even usher in Dolby Atmos for lucky Now subscribers.

‘That for me has to happen at some point,’ he said. ‘Object encoded audio is part of that experience. First we need to get our production stage up to scratch, and then plug that into our streaming infrastructure. The beauty of our Boost space is that we can use that as a mechanism to bring content quality up.

‘High tides raise all ships and we want to push forward the best experience we can, no matter what.’

Now (previously known as Now TV) is available on 20+ devices, including the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, Roku media players, and Apple TV. ‘We’re not done, there’s a lot more devices we want to get after,' said Stirling. 'We want to get to the ones with the biggest coverage or customer base.’

The company has no plans to produce any more dedicated streaming devices, such as its earlier Now TV Stick, instead throwing its development focus on existing platforms.

‘We don’t have any plans to make a new streaming stick right now. We want to lean in on the experience we have on all the platforms we have.’

Now also sees live broadcasting as a key differentiator between it and rivals going forward. ‘We’re going to have live Premier League football, F1 and the Olympics,' said Stirling. Now's aim is to offer 50fps on all live sports channels by the end of the year. ‘In regards to 50fps, this is currently available on six of our sports channels (via Boost on compatible devices) and will launch on the remaining five channels later this year.’

Now recently refined its Home page, offering content recommendations that change dynamically, depending on the time of day, as well as a new Show page for hero programming.

As part of the briefing, the NOW team highlighted the visual slickness of the new look running on Apple TV. However, while visually rich, NOW on Apple TV offers only stereo sound. When asked when multichannel would arrive, it told Home Cinema Choice: ‘In regards to 5.1 on Apple, we can confirm that we’re working on it and hope to deliver it by the end of the year.’

Stirling said its ‘Because you watched’ onscreen recommendations receive the highest level of conversion with viewers. Personalisation will also improve for those subscribers that use the ‘Watchlist’ feature.

Stirling dismissed the idea that Now might introduce free content, supported by advertising. Owner Comcast was reportedly interested in this idea back in 2019. 'Passes for sports, entertainment and movies is a core part of the proposition and always will be. Advertising has a place in the experience, but we have to be sensitive to the marketing dynamic. Advertising and AVOD is a pretty different vibe to what we’re about.’