Is Piracy Simply More Convenient? – NowTV DRM

For Christmas I purchased my Dad a NowTV HD box, this is essentially a Roku 2 media player which Sky have re branded to run their NowTV app. Now before I continue I will say I think NowTV is actually really good, with the NowTV HD box came a 6 month Sky Entertainment pass, which gets you access to 13 TV channels you can stream on up to 2x devices at the same time, and access to a huge Netflix style back catalog of content. My dad has really enjoyed watching many series on this, along with some of his favorite programs on Discovery and Sky Atlantic.

Anyway getting to the point of this blog, my Dad had told my mum their was a documentary about a band she likes on the NowTV box and wanted to know if she could get NowTV on the main TV in the living room. As this TV has a Chromecast connected to it I said if she installed the NowTV app on her Nexus 9 tablet she could simply Chromecast it to the TV like she can with the BBC iPlayer and other simlar apps.

After installing the NowTV app, signing in and trying to play an episode of a TV show to test it works she is told her Nexus 9 can’t be used for NowTV as it’s been modified. This was rather annoying, her tablet had been rooted when she first got it so I could restore a backup made of her apps / save games on the older tablet she had, it had however been un-rooted so it could then take over the air updates as normal. Despite this it appears Sky can some how detect the tablet was one rooted and essentially refuse to let the device be used for consuming NowTV content.

Next i tried my Mums Moto G mobile phone, which the NowTV app worked fine on. My mum could sign in and play content on the phone fine. However when trying to Chromecast to the TV she is told by the NowTV app she is unable to do so as the limit of 4x devices has been reached on the NowTV account.

It appears each Chromecast device on your home network is classed as a new device by NowTV. that seems a very unfair restriction to have considering the phone is the device been used to interface with NowTV, the Chromecast is essentially allowing the content to play on a TV instead of the small mobile phone screen. Content can’t be played on both devices at the same time

Now you might think why not just remove a device from your NowTV account to allow the Chromecast to function?

DRM is here to cause you problems too, you can only remove then add a maximum of one device per month. Because I had already removed the Nexus 9 (which NowTV refused to work on) then added the Moto G I was unable to remove another device to add the Chromecast until the following month… Great.

After all this messing about I am wondering why i didn’t just spend 60 seconds downloading the documentary my mum wanted to watch, instead of spending 45 minutes trying to do it the legal way and stream it from NowTV.

DRM only actually hurts consumers paying for content, everything on NowTV is available on torrent websites, or even with a simple Google search. Yet people who actually want to do the right thing and pay for content have to jump through so many hoops and restrictions to watch something legally.

You have to wonder why bother when piracy is simply more convenient?

Matt Hill

Matt Hill is in his mid 20′s and has a passion for technology. Matt studied Computer and Network Administration at University and currently works as an IT Administrator for a company based in his home town.

2 Comments

  1. mentaazul   •  

    Hi Matt, I hear ya. That gets worse when you’re outside the US, as you know about new stuff being released up there and you want to watch it right away. Netflix helps but Hulu or Amazon won’t reach these southern countries. So you’re really stuck on the “alternative” way. Which is a pity, because most people would be glad to pay for watching the stuff they want and as soon as it’s released. It’s a globalized world, we want what we see.

    • Matt Hill   •     Author

      Living outside the US I can totally relate to what your saying, sadly were stuck with content distribution policies that were designed long before the internet even existed. Look at Netflix cracking down on supposed “VPN Pirates”.

      If someone pays for Netflix, then is happy to pay for a VPN to gain access to another countries Netflix that hardly makes them a pirate, their paying more to access something they want to watch just because that person happens to be in a certain physical location in the world!

      I think Netflix is the one company who can disrupt the norm and make serious changes, Netflix is massively popular around the world now and is slowly changing peoples viewing habits, especially of the younger generations.

      It could well be in a few years time if your program is not on Netflix your going to loose out to a massive user base who is only watching TV shows on Netflix. That then gives Netflix the power to turn around and say unless we can show this to all users anywhere in the world were not interested.

      The above could well be a bit of wishful thinking, however viewing habits are changing so who knows!

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