Sky takes on Netflix with £4.99 Now TV entertainment package

Ten channels including Sky Atlantic, with shows such as Game of Thrones and Mad Men, offered without a pay-TV subscription

Sky's on-demand service, Now TV, is to offer 10 entertainment channels including Sky1 and Sky Atlantic for the first time to viewers without a pay-TV subscription in a move aimed at rebuffing the challenge of online rivals such as Netflix.

This is the first time the channels will be made available to viewers without a satellite dish, the channels will be available to watch live and on-demand for an initial price of £4.99 a month on a pay-as-you-go basis.

It is a substantial expansion of the Now TV offer which was previously restricted to sports and movies, available to buy on a day or month-long pass.

The new offering will also include entire box sets of hit shows such as HBO's Game of Thrones, Mad Men and The Wire and Sky's Mad Dogs and An Idiot Abroad.

In a thinly-veiled reference to Netflix, which is largely an archive service, albeit a large one, Sky's announcement on Tuesday said: "Unlike some other streaming services, the Now TV entertainment month pass offers premiere episodes of the very latest series."

Along with Sky1 and Sky Atlantic, the 10 entertainment channels in the package also include Sky Living, Sky Arts 1, Discovery, MTV, Comedy Central, Gold, Disney and Fox.

Gidon Katz, director of Now TV, said: "Millions of people can now go online to watch some of the best entertainment channels, including Sky1, Sky Atlantic and Comedy Central. Now TV offers pay-as-you-go access to brand new episodes of home-grown British shows and the biggest and best US series for anyone with broadband."

Netflix, which garnered critical acclaim with its Kevin Spacey drama remake House of Cards, announced earlier this month that it had 40 million subscribers worldwide, up more than 10 million in the last year, with revenues of $1.1bn and net profit of £32m.

Sky's month-long pass is available via Sky's Now TV box as well as other platforms including the PlayStation 3, Roku streaming player, Macs and PCs.

It will be rolled out in the coming months on iPhone, iPads, selected Android smartphones and elsewhere. Subscribers will be able to register on a maximum of four devices.

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John Plunkett

The GuardianTramp

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