January 15, 2019

TiVo replacement on its way?

Virgin Media's parent company Liberty Global unveiled its next-generation TV entertainment platform, Horizon 4, late last year.
The new Horizon 4 suite of products includes a superfast set-top box with 4K Ultra HD picture quality, a remote-control with voice capabilities and an upgraded version of the operator’s 'GO' mobile app, which works together with the set-top box to deliver a seamless viewing experience. The platform will be introduced over the coming months to selected customers in The Netherlands, Switzerland and Belgium, with a wider rollout in these and other Liberty Global markets expected to follow. No mention of Virgin Media adopting the Horizon platform yet though
The Horizon 4 set-top box has already been introduced as the ‘V6 box’ in the UK, where nearly 2 million customers are already using it of course with TiVo software. The new platform to be rolled out in non-Virgin Media companies in the coming months combines this set-top box with the new Horizon 4 user interface instead, which includes enhanced features. Could the days of TiVo be numbered? You can read more about the new Horizon 4 suite here.
(My thanks to IrishManc for the alerting me to this news. Cheers, fella!)

January 11, 2019

StarzPlay now available on Virgin Media

After a delay of six weeks, StarzPlay has now launched on the Virgin Media platform. Virgin Media customers need to pay a StarzPlay add-on subscription (costing £4.99 per month) and you can't do it via the TV but have to ring Virgin Media up to add the service. Disappointingly, the seven-day free trial Amazon Prime customers get before paying for the service doesn't appear to be extended to Virgin customers. I'm assuming it's an HD service rather than 4k offering but there's nothing in the VM press release.
It's all somewhat underwhelming, to be truthful.
The streaming service is the exclusive UK home to the Stephen King adaptations Mr. Mercedes and Castle Rock. Future Lionsgate owned Starz original series will also be available exclusively on StarzPlay. The launch on Virgin Media comes just after StarzPlay sealed a deal with ITV for the exclusive rights to Hulu’s period drama Harlots, after it was dropped by ITV in the wake of the closure of ITV Encore. The show’s first season launches on Friday January 18th, with season two following on Thursday February 14th.
Still no word on Sky Atlantic coming to Virgin Media (yawn)...

December 07, 2018

UKTV HD channels all move around

In addition to the BBC shuffles above, Virgin Media has shuffled the UKTV channels and there are changes to the BT Sports listings, too. I've tried to keep the listing on the right up to date but it's like playing Whack-a-mole at times...

November 09, 2018

Starzplay service launching on Virgin Media this month

Starzplay will launch on Virgin Media in the UK on November 29. The Starzplay premium streaming service will give Virgin TV customers in the UK the opportunity to watch Starz series all in one place, with future Starz Originals launching exclusively on Starzplay on the same day as the U.S., including season two of "Counterpart" starring Academy Award®-winner J.K. Simmons.
The new subscription Video on Demand service offers access to a vast library of additional content including series such as "Vida," "Sweetbitter," "The White Princess" and "Mr. Mercedes" as well as an extensive movie library for £4.99 a month.

September 27, 2018

HD only channels arrive

VMHD regular Jez24 writes:
Some news might have slipped under the radar, so i thought i would mention it.
UK Gold has just started on Virgin, however that's not the big news. The big news is for the first time the HD version has replaced the SD version. They have also done this with the Free Sports channel. Virgin are the first broadcaster who can do this now they have replaced all the old non HD boxes. There is nothing to stop them ditching all the SD channels that have an HD version now, apart from BBC1 of course. We need our local news!

September 10, 2018

Virgin Media announces dedicated 4K ultra high definition channel

Here's Virgin Media's press release on a new channel launching next week:

Virgin Media is launching the UK’s first dedicated 4K ultra high definition (UHD) entertainment channel, which will start broadcasting from next week.
The Virgin TV Ultra HD channel will air a line-up of must-see shows in incredible picture quality from Monday 17 September.
The channel will be exclusively available for Virgin TV Full House and VIP customers with a V6 set-top box. These customers can tune into a collection of critically acclaimed dramas, beautifully shot documentaries and get up close to some of the biggest names in music with a selection of hot-ticket concerts; all in dazzling UHD detail and at no extra cost.
The schedule is packed with blockbuster entertainment series such as ‘Start Up’ with Martin Freeman, ‘Masters of Sex’ starring Michael Sheen and political powerhouse ‘House of Cards’ as well as wildlife and nature documentaries set in Zambia and Vietnam, plus gigs from the Rolling Stones, Sting and Imagine Dragons.
A number of these programmes will be broadcast for the first time on UK television, such as ‘Start Up’ as well as ‘Shut Eye’ with Isabella Rosselini and ‘The Art of More’ with Dennis Quaid.
To celebrate the launch of Virgin TV Ultra HD, comedian, author and ‘Love Island’ narrator, Iain Stirling will become the ‘voice’ of the channel for its opening night next Monday.
David Bouchier, Virgin Media’s Chief Digital Entertainment Officer, said:
“With the launch of Virgin TV Ultra HD we’re giving our customers the ultimate entertainment viewing experience with must-see shows in incredible, crystal-clear picture quality.
“From epic dramas and stunning documentaries to the front row feeling of a rock concert, our customers will get closer to the action than ever before – with four times the picture quality of HD. It really is the next best thing to being there.
“We’ve shown some of this year’s biggest sporting events in Ultra HD, such as the Champions League and Wimbledon finals and we’re now giving entertainment the Ultra HD treatment. It’s all part of our ongoing investment to give our customers the best way to watch the best TV.”
Virgin TV Ultra HD will air on channel 999 and broadcast at prime-time until the early hours. The channel will begin broadcasting from 8.20pm on the launch night.
Virgin TV Ultra HD programme highlights:
- ‘Start Up’ airs on Mondays at 10pm and stars Martin Freeman. The show explores what happens when a brilliant yet controversial tech idea gets funded with dirty money, from three entrepreneurs you would never find in Silicon Valley. Distributed by Sony pictures television.
- ‘Shut Eye’ airs on Tuesdays at 10pm and is a UK network premiere. It’s a darkly-comic look at the activities of storefront psychics and the underground criminal syndicate that controls them. The series stars Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice), KaDee Strickland (The Sixth Sense), Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet). Distributed by Sony pictures television.
- From the producers of ‘Blue Planet’ and ‘Planet Earth II’, Love Nature’s ‘The Big Dry’ will air Monday to Wednesday at 8pm during launch week. Set in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, this visually stunning documentary series follows the challenges the valley’s wildlife must overcome during the long dry season as they await the life-giving rains.
- ‘The Art of More’ airs on Thursdays at 10pm and is a UK network premiere. Graham Conner (Christian Cooke), a blue-collar former soldier turned auction house executive, leads a dangerous double life as he uses his secret past to beat the auction world elite at their own game. Distributed by Sony pictures television.
- ‘Masters of Sex’ airs on Fridays at 10pm featuring Michael Sheen as renowned obstetrician Dr. William Masters who hires sexually liberated, single working mother Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) as his assistant in carrying out pioneering, intimate research into human sexuality. Distributed by Sony pictures television.

August 15, 2018

Autumn price rises ahoy

Virgin Media has announced it is hiking prices for five million customers. We will be sent letters between now and the end of September outlining the changes, and the company has confirmed that anyone who wants to can leave penalty-free by providing notice within 30-days of receiving the notification.
Here are the main price increases:

  • Broadband-only – up to £3/mth.
  • Broadband and line rental – up to £3/mth.
  • The Player bundle – by £3/mth.
  • The Mix and Fun bundles – by £3.50/mth.
  • The Full House bundle – by £4/mth.

Anyone who signed up to Virgin Media after August 1st 2018 won't see their prices increase.
The increase will hit bills in either October or November and will be confirmed in the notification letter.

August 11, 2018

UKTV channels return to Virgin Media

The channels added during the UKTV time away have stayed. I can see only two that have been renumbered Quest HD  is now 217 and C&I HD is on 222

August 03, 2018

Premier League looks to ISP to curb use of illegal streaming

The Premier League league is getting tougher with those illegal streams of football in the forthcoming season. The High Court has issued a "blocking order" which will force the major ISPs (including Virgin, BT and Sky) to shut down servers which are illegally streaming games.
The Premier League obtained the order as part of what it calls "biggest ever crackdown" on the illegal streaming of its content and is part of a bid to "combat the sale and use of illicit streaming devices" including the Kodi Box, which lets people watch sports and films for free.
A similar order was granted for the final two months of the 2016/17 season and saw more than 5,000 server IP addresses blocked. The latest block will be in place for the entire 2017/18 Premier League season.
Premier League Director of Legal Services, Kevin Plumb, said: “This blocking order is a game-changer in our efforts to tackle the supply and use of illicit streams of our content.
“It will allow us to quickly and effectively block and disrupt the illegal broadcast of Premier League football via any means, including Kodi boxes."
Similar measures have also been used to block bit torrent sites such as Pirate Bay, but it's proven to be like that fairground whac-a-mole game - hit one and another quickly pops up.