April 20, 2015

Game of Thrones on Now TV - update

On to episode two of season five and, I'm pleased to say, Now TV's On Demand service has delivered again. Excellent picture (720p) and no sign of buffering at all. Whatsmore, it's been available via On Demand all day since the show was simulcast on Sky Atlantic at 2am this morning, which will help spread demand on the service away from the prime time broadcast at 9pm this evening. Clever.
I'm also watching the final episodes of Mad Men on Now TV, again through the On Demand service. Picture quality again very good, but I noticed a slight dip to SD in the latter scenes of episode one. My broadband was fine so I'm not sure what the problem was. 

April 17, 2015

Sky Sports price hike for Virgin Customers

MediaGuardian reports that Virgin customers who take Sky’s sports package will see a £2 a month increase – double the £1 a month hike that Sky’s own subscribers face from June.
From June 1st Virgin customers who take Sky Sports will pay £2 a month more, while those who have Sky Movies will pay 50p a month more.
Virgin claims that “Sky is spreading the cost across its other TV packages, so their customers who don’t take Sports or Movies will also see the cost of their packages go up … Our rises are simpler and only mean that customers who take the content pay the increased price for that content. We don’t want to make our non-Sky Sports/Movies watching customers subsidise costs for those that do.
“This price rise is entirely due to the increase in charges we have to pay Sky … As we have made clear to Ofcom, any increase in the value of the Premier League’s live TV rights eventually ends up hitting the pockets of fans.”
This Sky Sports customer was already questionning the value I get from Sky Sports and is not a happy chappie. BT Sports costs for next season haven't been announced yet, but I think if they hit my charges too I may make a call and I think it will be Sky dropping out of the mix as I do enjoy the Champions League more than the mid-season matches from the Premiership.

April 13, 2015

Game of Thrones season five - updated

Is it season five already? Bloody hell. And still no sign of Sky Atlantic being made available to us poor Virgin Media customers.
At least there are a few more options now for us. Aside from the illegal downloading route, episodes should appear to buy on iTunes and Amazon soon after broadcast (although neither has added the season opener for sale yet in the US - I'm not sure how long it will take to appear).
Me? I'm giving Sky's Now TV another go, signing up for GoT and the last season of Mad Men. Will I fare better than last year's futile efforts to watch it live, or even the following night via catch up? Hopefully Sky has sorted out the ridiculous back end issues it had last year for GoT and other popular programmes. Game of Thrones on Now TV proved unwatchable with season four - will five be any better? I will let you know how I get on.

UPDATE:
Pleased to say I had no issues with the Now TV box this evening during Game of Thrones. Picture quality was SD but no buffering at all to report. Even better, it was available through Now TV Catch Up after ten minutes' broadcast, too, which meant I could switch over to the 720p version at the first ad break - and also miss all the other ad breaks! Result.

Sadly, not all were so lucky; Now TV community forums ablaze with complaints  http://community.nowtv.com/t5/Entertainment/Will-there-be-capacity-Problems-for-Game-of-Thrones-this-evening/td-p/293679

I advise everyone to use just the Catch Up service on Now TV. Not only do you get no full ads (just a smattering of promo reels) and 720p picture, but you also can watch GoT from episode 2 of season 5 at any time next Monday after it's first broadcast as a US simulcast at 2am - you don't have to wait for the 9am showing. That should reduce the demand at 9pm considerably.

April 03, 2015

Virgin Media TiVo deal extended

Concerns that virgin may move to Liberty Global's Horizon platform have been dispelled with the news that Virgin has confirmed an extension to its agreement with TiVo.

The new agreement extends for a further three years the existing five-year partnership between Virgin Media and TiVo in the UK. As part of the new agreement, Virgin Media has committed to the development of next-generation solutions from TiVo.

April 02, 2015

PictureBox closes

When we were desperate for HD films a few years ago PictureBox seemed like a handy service. Sadly though, the films were rarely better than you could pick up at a garage for a few quid, and the "HD" was not the best. Now it's gone. I doubt it had many subscribers and Netflix offers far better value.

Nat Geo Wild HD in testing?

Over on Cable Forum it has been reported that Nat Geo Wild HD is testing and due for launc this month.

Netflix in April

A few interesting Netflix additions this month, in addition to the arrival of Marvel's Daredevil:
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Iron Man 3
Begin Again
Sons of Anarchy season 7
And from Auntie: The Trip (both seasons - a great little gem), Call the Midwife, The Wrong Mans and, for those suffering withdrawal, numerous Top Gear things.
Later this month we should see one of last year's best, the horror The Babadook.

March 22, 2015

Sky packages go up again

Five of Sky's six TV bundles are going up in price come June, with Sky suggesting the average bill will increase by "less than £3 per month". I guess they had to fund that ridiculous inflated price they paid for Premiership rights somehow.
Sky's basic bundle, which includes 35 entertainment channels including Sky Atlantic and Sky Sports News, will remain the same price (£21) but all the other packages, including the Sky Sports and Sky Movies packages will increase in cost.
How this will impact Virgin Media subscribers to the Sky channels we will have to wait to see. The Sky Movies bundle will go up 50p/month to £17/month, Sky Sports will increase by £1 to £25.50/month, while the Sky Movies + Sky Sports bundle will be £34.50/month, up £1.50. The Variety bundle goes up £2 to £30/month, while the Family bundle jumps £3 to £36/month. The new prices come in to effect from June 1st.
(I think Sky still charges extra each month for HD too - it used to be a tenner but I think it's half that now.)

March 20, 2015

Sky Sports anywhere for Android users

Virgin Android device owners who subscribe to Sky Sports as part of their TV packages can now watch Sky Sports content on their smartphones and tablets.
The latest version of the Sky Sports app for Android now lets Virgin Media customers sign in using their VM log in details in order to access any of the channels. They do need to have a TV sports subscription, where they can watch Sky's channels through a TiVo box, but there are no other restrictions.
Sky Sports 1 to 5, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News HQ are all available to watch on Android phones and tablets over Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection. TiVo customers can also choose to watch the channels through the Virgin TV Anywhere app, which will then subsequently open the Sky Sports app. "The Sky Sports app for Android cements our position as the home of sports TV at home or on the move and means we now have a full complement of Android and iOS apps for both Sky Sports and Sky Movies<" said Scott Kewley, director of digital entertainment for Virgin Media. "Our customers enjoy the same access to Sky Sports on the go as Sky customers."

March 15, 2015

VMHD Blog back in action

I've been away from the country for work but I'm back now. Apologies for the unheralded silence.