As other threads have discussed, the audio quality using the NOW TV desktop player is really, really poor. It sounds like 32 kbps AAC-LC. Mushy, no high frequencies, barely intelligible.
When will this be improved? Underneath the player just uses familiar chunked H.264 streaming with some encryption to protect against stream recording. The player is just an Electron web app in a Windows wrapper.
Technologically there's no reason why the audio bit rates should not be better for the NOW TV desktop streams. It seems like an artificial quality reduction to force people to use smart TV apps / NOW TV boxes and sticks.
For many people, the Windows player is our primary method of viewing. Why should we have to put up with degraded quality?
I found your post very helpful as it seemed to be the real answer to the question that has appeared on here for over 3 years without answer. I confronted them directly via the complaints and got a bunch of stock responses like uninstall and reinstall.
From my amateur POV, without any coding background, it seems to be films and TV shows from certain studios that have been downgraded. So I now avoid 20th Century Fox titles on here. No response to my request for a refund as my NowTV box cannot be used where I live as the wifi requires a login access to a hotspot.
Seems those of us who have to rely on desktops, laptops or tablets are punished with a smaller choice of movies and TV.
I'm on a three-month discount trial at the moment for entertainment and movies and I'm considering just cancelling when it comes up for renewal, the quality is not good enough. They'll lose my money entirely as there's no way I'm committing to Sky direct for a year just for that content, so it's lost revenue if they don't fix it.
HLS streams should be player agnostic. Something is either wrong with the Electron player (bug causing inability to decode HE portion of AAC audio stream) or NOW/Sky are not offering higher audio bit rates in the HLS stream quality levels delivered to the desktop player.
It's not rocket surgery, this is just web streaming. Their lack of progress on fixing this is what makes me think it's an artificial crippling of the service simply because they can.
The video is also extremely low bit rate. It's also extremely unstable, dropping completely or switching to 50p resolution. These are complaint that has been repeated for years on here with absolutely no action from Sky.
They should have dropped the collaboration with Cisco ages ago, before the incometent executive who green lit the service pressed the OK button.
This is why services like Netflix are winning. Because they actually give their subscribers quality for their money and they listen.
like many people here the picture is an absolute disgrace,and ultimatly will come back and bite sky big time. if your watching content on a 4k large screen smart tv its even more noticable. i have a ethernet fibre-optic conection. this is what i found windows now tv app really poor. smart nowtv box picture poor i switched from sky tv box and that picture really good. here is whats going on sky-nowtv reasons only known to them give streaming low bit rate the picture is dark blurry waste of time to watch. they can pass the buck back to us the consumer but we are not mugs. its out of our hands other companys streaming live sport football etc up the bitrate for fast moving sport. so sky your reputaion here is on the line your shooting an own goal as people in there droves go to netflix bt sport and other streaming companys. bottom line up the bitrate. and us the customer make sure our broadband speed is enough to handle the H.D. Video live Stream.