Now vs BT: who's best for broadband and TV?

Last updated: 4 May 2021   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Now and BT both offer broadband and TV services to customers, but there are some key differences between them.

broadband connect router
Credit: Proxima Studio/Shutterstock.com

In this guide:


At a glance

Now BT
Price From £18/mth From £27.99/mth
Basic broadband 11Mb average
Unlimited
10Mb average
Unlimited
Fibre broadband Up to 63Mb average
Unlimited
Up to 900Mb average
Unlimited
Inclusive calls Anytime
Includes UK mobiles
None
Anytime UK calls Included £7/mth
700 mins includes UK mobiles
TV Extra cost
30-day deals
Extra cost
24-month deals
Minimum term 12-months 24-months

Special offers

Both Now and BT occasionally run special offers to tempt new customers into signing up. These are their current deals:

Offer Terms

£50 BT Reward card with BT Full Fibre 100 just £29.99 a month with free setup

Hurry! Offer ends 6 June 2024

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. From £34.99/mth after 24 months. BT offers are subject to price increases on the 31st March 2024 by CPI +3.9%.


£50 BT Reward card with BT Entertainment TV and BT Fibre 100 broadband, just £44.99/mth with free setup

Hurry! Offer ends 6 June 2024

24 month minimum term. No setup fee. From £54.99 a month after 24 months. BT offers are subject to price increases on the 31st March 2024 by CPI +3.9%.

Offer Terms

NOW Entertainment just £6.99/mth for 6 months with NOW Broadband.

NOW Entertainment membership costs £9.99/mth after 6 months (cancel anytime). NOW Broadband £21/mth until 4 July 2024, then £24/mth for the remainder of the 12 month minimum term. £41.50/mth after 12 months. £10 set up fee. Prices may change during contract.


NOW Sports just £29.99/mth for 12 months with NOW broadband.

NOW Sports membership costs £34.99/mth after 12 months (cancel anytime). NOW Broadband £21/mth until 4 July 2024, then £24/mth for the remainder of the 12 month minimum term. £41.50/mth after 12 months. £10 set up fee. Prices may change during contract.


Broadband deals

Winner: Now offer 30-day broadband deals as well as including anytime calls as standard.

Now and BT both offer superfast fibre broadband deals, although their prices are often vastly different.

Here's how their superfast deals currently look:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Fab Fibre 36Mb average £21 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £24/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Super Fibre 63Mb average £21 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £24/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Fibre Essential 36Mb average £33.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 06/06/2024)
Fibre 1 50Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £5/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 06/06/2024)
Fibre 2 67Mb average £36.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months + (Ends 06/06/2024)

Not only are Now's prices much cheaper than BT's, but their standard contract length is also only 12 months in comparison to BT's 24-month deals.

Many customers prefer shorter fixed term deals as they allow for a greater degree of flexibility.

In addition, Now's set-up costs are cheaper and they include free anytime calls with their broadband plans - BT's deals can't match that.

BT do offer something that Now currently don't, however. Thanks to Openreach's fibre to the premises (FTTP) rollout, BT offer ultrafast broadband deals up to 900Mb.

Here are those packages:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Full Fibre 100 150Mb average £29.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £1/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 06/06/2024)
Full Fibre 500 500Mb average £34.99 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Save £15/mth and free setup (was £31.99) (Ends 06/06/2024)
Full Fibre 900 900Mb average £59.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: £50 BT Virtual Reward Card + Reduced price for 24 months (Ends 06/06/2024)

1Gb fibre broadband is now being offered by several providers, although Now isn't one of them and is unlikely to be anytime soon (owner Sky has only recently launched FTTP services).

So, for customers looking at speeds over 100Mb, BT are the only option between these two providers.

If we look at the other end of the speed spectrum, though, we can see both Now and BT still offer basic copper broadband to customers.

Here are their deals:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Brilliant Broadband 11Mb average £20 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £23/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Broadband 10Mb average £29.99 £31.99 24 months
offer Offer: Reduced price for 24 months

Now are way ahead on price when it comes to standard copper broadband, with BT focused on encouraging customers to switch to fibre deals instead.

For customers in the 3% of locations where the Openreach superfast network has yet to reach, Now is by far the cheaper option (and they include anytime calls too).

30-day broadband deals

Something else Now offer that BT don't is the option to take broadband on flexible 30-day contract, whether a customer is looking for fibre broadband or is happy with copper broadband.

This type of no contract fibre broadband is rare, and customers taking these no-contract deals from Now will pay a larger upfront fee but the same monthly prices.

For more information on either provider see our BT broadband review and our Now broadband review.


Price

Winner: Now are much cheaper than BT for broadband.

Now are usually high in the list of the cheapest broadband providers at any given time, and they pride themselves on offering budget, no-frills broadband.

In contrast, BT are more of a premium broadband provider, offering improved hardware and the ability to use millions of wi-fi hotspots around the country as a BT customer.

If a customer's decision on their next broadband package is based mainly on price, there's no contest - Now broadband is cheaper.


Speed

Winner: BT offer ultrafast broadband services whereas Now don't.

Now are limited to maximum average speeds of 63Mb while customers in Openreach FTTP areas (over 4.5 million premises) can access BT broadband speeds averaging 900Mb.

For sheer speed, then, BT are a better option than Now, but it's also worth pausing to understand how BT deliver their broadband.

For the majority of homes signing up to BT services, they will receive fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband where fibre goes to the cabinet and then copper cables take the broadband the rest of the way into a customer's home. This technology (also used by Now) results in some speed being lost between the cabinet and the home.

However, when customers sign up to these FTTC speeds but in FTTP-enabled areas, BT are opting to install fibre right into the premises. This is futureproofing the service, but it has the added effect of making these fibre connections faster and more reliable.

As an example, here are Ofcom's annual speed test results published in May 2020:

ofcom average broadband speeds faster fibre

While the advertised speed of both BT packages here is the same, the difference in attained speed is over 10Mb faster on the FTTP package than the FTTC one.

For customers in FTTP areas, then, receiving a superfast installation of FTTP can deliver solid speeds beyond those advertised.

As for Now, we don't have Ofcom speed information for any of their packages, but we would expect their performance to be in line with their parent company Sky. Their 59Mb package doesn't quite reach its advertised speeds, although the panellist data shows it wasn't too far off.


Routers

Winner: The BT Smart Hub remains one of the best routers around.

Now supply customers with a repackaged version of the Sky Q Hub known as the Now Hub 2.

This router is a little outdated compared to the ones offered by its parent company, and the pattern of premium ISPs passing on old routers to their budget brands is one we've seen with BT and Plusnet too.

Yet it's perfectly serviceable for the superfast speeds offered by Now, coming with:

  • Smart channel selection
  • Dual band technology
  • 2 x Ethernet ports
  • 5 antennae

When we look at the Smart Hub offered as standard by BT for their fibre deals, however, we can see how the technological specifications outstrip the Now Hub Two. Features include:

  • Next generation wi-fi
  • Smart channel selection
  • Dual band technology
  • 4 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 7 antennae

There's also a slightly more advanced router available that's compatible with BT Complete WiFi: the BT Smart Hub 2.

We've looked at the BT Smart Hub 2 in more detail in our guide to the best broadband router.

BT Complete WiFi

BT were the first major broadband company to offer a speed guarantee and wi-fi boosting system in the form of their Complete WiFi which launched in 2018.

For £10 extra per month, BT customers will receive a Smart Hub 2 and Wi-Fi Discs to boost the wi-fi signal around the home. If signal problems can't be fixed and speeds of 10Mb can't be attained across the house, customers will receive up to £100 credit on their bill.

Now don't offer anything comparable to this guarantee.


Call plans

Winner: Now offer inclusive anytime calls.

Now are a rare provider who still include anytime calls with their standard broadband plans. Most other providers have switched to an add-on system, including BT.

These are BT's call plans:

Package Inclusive calls Price per month
700 minutes 700 anytime minutes to UK landlines and UK mobiles £7
Unlimited minutes Unlimited anytime calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles £15
Friends & Family International Reduced call rates to 236 international destinations £2.02
International Freedom Inclusive calls to landlines in 36 destinations and lower call rates to the rest of the world £8.61

As we can see, the cost of adding anytime calls to BT is especially high considering these are included free of charge for Now customers.

Even if a customer moves to paying for their anytime calls after the 12-month term is up, Now's Anytime plan is only £8 - still much cheaper than BT.


TV

Winner: Draw - plenty of the content is the same but Now win for flexibility and BT win for supplying a set-top box.

Now allow customers to sign up to TV memberships on a rolling monthly basis. These can be cancelled at any time and customers don't have to be Now broadband subscribers to sign up to them.

Nor do customers really receive any benefits from taking both services, although occasional promotions do offer incentives.

The content available to Now TV customers through the memberships system is actually available through BT TV since they switched their TV service to one based on Now content back in early 2020.

There are a couple of key differences between the two services, not least the fact that BT TV customers sign up to a 24-month deal, removing the option to cancel the service at any time, although BT TV customers can upgrade and downgrade their packages monthly if they wish.

Plus, BT TV includes AMC and BT Sport channels, and it can also be used to watch Freeview in a way that Now can't because it doesn't come with a set-top box.

BT TV is only available to BT broadband customers.

TV packages

Winner: BT offers more variety thanks to their BT Sport option and supporting Freeview.

Now customers can choose from the following membership options, taking multiple options if they want. All are on 30-day rolling contracts:

Package TV Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
Entertainment Membership 24 £6.99 Free 6 months
offer Offer: NOW Entertainment £6.99/mth for 6 months
Cinema Membership 11 £9.99 Free 1 month
offer Offer: Save 30% on NOW Cinema & Entertainment just £13.99 for 6 months
Sports Membership 11 £26 Free 6 months
offer Offer: Save 25% and 1 month free trial of Boost
Hayu Membership 1 £4.99 Free 1 month
offer Offer: 7-day free trial

There's also the option to take the Sports Membership on a daily basis and add HD content for £3 extra per month.

Find out more about the different memberships and which content is included with them in our dedicated Now TV guide.

For BT TV customers, these are the options based on Now content:

Package TV Contract term Upfront price Monthly price
Entertainment (BT broadband customers only) 96 £17 £39.99 24 months
Big Entertainment (BT broadband customers only) 107 £27 £39.99 24 months
Sport (BT broadband customers only) 77 £16 £39.99 24 months
Big Sport (BT broadband customers only) 90 £41 £39.99 24 months
VIP (BT broadband customers only) 125 £74 £39.99 24 months

A selection of extras can be added to BT TV packages, including the Now hayu Membership.

We've got more information about the content in each package in our dedicated BT TV guide, but the core content of both Now TV and BT TV content is essentially the same, with the added attraction of BT Sport and AMC.

TV prices

Winner: Now TV memberships are cheaper than comparable options from BT TV.

Although making direct comparisons can be difficult because BT provide a set-top box (see below) with Freeview access while Now TV is simply a streaming service, it's clear Now offer the same content more cheaply if customers go direct.

This isn't to say there aren't good reasons for signing up to BT TV (especially if you're a sports fan), but Now wins on price.

Hardware

Winner: BT provide customers with a set-top box.

Now customers don't automatically receive any equipment when they sign up to Now TV. This is because Now TV is a flexible rolling membership system, and it can be watched in a variety of ways including through:

  • Smart TVs
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Roku boxes
  • Games consoles
  • iOS and Android devices

It can also be viewed through Now's own Smart Stick which costs around £25 and must be purchased separately.

On the other hand, BT TV customers receive a YouView+ box which is a traditional set-top box able to record up to 300 hours of TV. We've reviewed the BT TV Box Pro in this guide.

For customers hoping for a traditional TV experience, BT TV is the better option.


Customer service

Winner: BT offer an average customer service record.

Unfortunately, Now aren't large enough to merit inclusion in either Ofcom's quarterly complaints figures or their annual service surveys.

This makes it tricky to see how their customer service is performing, yet a look at Now's website shows they much prefer customers to solve their own issues using help articles rather than encouraging them to pick up the phone to talk an issue through.

BT are a mid-range performer when it comes to broadband customer service.

Their complaint figures are around the industry average, and they're often around the average in other surveys like Ofcom's annual Comparing Service Quality (CSQ) report.

For customers who like to speak to an adviser, the 2020 CSQ report showed BT representatives answered the phone in 55 seconds on average, far below the industry average of 2 minutes and 16 seconds.

On the TV side of things, BT's complaint trends are above average, and they tend to fluctuate more than their broadband complaints.


Our verdict: Now or BT?

Overall winner: Now marginally win this battle for being the cheaper of the two and throwing in anytime calls as standard.

Now and BT are arguably targeted towards different customers, with Now perfect for budget customers and BT attractive to those looking for a more premium broadband and TV service.

We like Now because:

  • They offer some of the cheapest broadband around
  • They offer no-contract broadband
  • They include anytime calls as standard
  • Their broadband deals are for 12 months
  • Their TV memberships are completely without commitment

On the other hand, we like BT because:

  • They offer faster broadband speeds than Now
  • Their FTTP connections are very reliable
  • They offer access to millions of free wi-fi hotspots across the UK
  • Their router is superior to Now's

An individual customer's choice may come down to whether they want a no-frills experience or whether they want to pay extra for the higher quality service BT offer to customers.

Want to know more? We've also compared Now and Sky, BT and Virgin Media, and Sky and Virgin in these guides.

Which broadband & TV deals are available in your area?

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