Roku Challenges Amazon, Google With Branded NOW TV Streaming Stick in the U.K.

NOW TV, the standalone subscription streaming service operated by U.K. satellite operator Sky, Jan. 25 announced the launch of a branded streaming stick – manufactured by Roku.

Available in February, the £14.99 ($21) plug-and-play stick comes with a remote featuring voice-activated search technology, in addition to pausing live TV on premium channels, including Sky Sports, Fox, Comedy Central and Sky Atlantic.

“If you’re looking for a flexible way to stream great TV, contract free, the NOW TV Smart Stick is the cheapest in the U.K.,” managing director Gidon Katz said in a statement.

Unlike pay-TV, NOW TV sells subscriptions to genre-specific programing, including an entertainment pass, cinema pass, sports pass (available daily, weekly and monthly), and kids pass.

NOW is also marketing standalone broadband access, with speeds ranging from 17 Mbps to 76 Mbps.

Launched in 2012, NOW TV featured a Roku-manufactured set-top device and offered Sky programing on a monthly subscription. The service launched in Ireland last year.

With 21st Century Fox a minority owner of Sky, Fox helped bring Roku to Europe eight years ago following a $45 million investment from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Notably, when Murdoch put 20th Century Fox up for sale to Disney, the $52.4 billion deal did not include its 7% stake in Roku.

“Fox’s leaders understand the TV part is the fastest-growing part of the business,” Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku told TheStreet last November.

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