December 15, 2017

Sky Atlantic to Virgin Media at last?

From a Sky press release this morning:
Sky has concluded an agreement with BT which means Sky customers will have their choice of the best sports all through a single Sky TV subscription, while also broadening the reach of Sky’s leading entertainment channel brands to all major Pay-TV services in the UK for the first time.
Under the agreement, Sky will receive wholesale supply of the BT Sport channels enabling it to offer its customers access to every single match of the Premier League, the UEFA Champions League and Europa League shown on Sky and BT channels through one simple Sky contract. This will be the first time Sky is able to provide BT Sport to its customers directly as part of a Sky bundle or on a standalone basis and across all Sky platforms including Sky Go. BT Sport will also be available as an app on NOW TV boxes.
Sky will make its NOW TV streaming service available on the BT TV set-top-box. As retail agent, BT will sell NOW TV on Sky’s behalf, offering BT TV customers access to Now TV’s most popular content including Sky Atlantic, Sky One, Sky Living, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema.
This agreement is a further step in Sky’s strategy to maximise distribution of key channel brands and to monetise its content investment further across all TV platforms. By adding Now TV to the heart of BT’s TV offering, Sky’s portfolio of TV entertainment brands will be available to all UK consumers through each major Pay-TV service, reaching new customers and expanding the appeal of our channels to advertisers.
So far, so mildly interesting, but Sky Chief Exec Jeremy Darroch is quoted as saying:
"UK consumers will have even more ways to watch great Sky entertainment content with our leading portfolio of channels – Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Sky Living – available on all major Pay-TV platforms for the first time.
"This is all part of our stated strategy to enhance our customer offering, to broaden our appeal and to open up new revenue streams for our business.” 
Run that passed me again…did the boss at Sky just say that 'our leading portfolio of channels – Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Sky Living – available on ALL major Pay-TV platforms for the first time'??? There's no arguing that Virgin's TV pay-TV platform is a major one (6m households using VM's services in the UK and Ireland) and Darroch can't tell big fibs on these announcements, so I can only conclude that Sky Atlantic, either as a channel or as part of a VM Now TV offering, is on the way any day now.
(Either that, or Sky reckon that this BT deal and the Sky Q over internet service launching next year will kill Virgin TV once and for all…)

December 04, 2017

Two new Virgin Media Apps to launch on December 7th.

Virgin Media has announced that the existing Virgin TV Anywhere service will soon be replaced by two new apps on Apple iOS and Android: Virgin TV Go and Virgin TV Control.
Virgin TV Go
Lets you watch telly, at home or on the go anywhere in the UK. You can now watch selected live TV channels (including BT Sport), On Demand and Box Sets on 3G/4G as well as on Wifi, on two of your mobile devices (compatible mobiles, tablets or web browsers).
Virgin TV Control
Manage and set recordings on your Virgin TV V6 or TiVo® box  from anywhere in the world with Wifi, 3G or 4G. Plus, turn your mobile or tablet into a handy extra remote to browse the TV Guide or change channel when you’re at home. With a Virgin TV V6 box, you can even stream selected recordings to a mobile or tablet around the home.
When the new apps launch on Dec 7th your Virgin TV Anywhere app should automatically update to Virgin TV Control when it’s connected to WiFi. If this doesn’t happen, open your Virgin TV Anywhere app and follow the on-screen instructions to update it.
The new TV Go app is a big step forward from what we've had with the limited TV Anywhere app. Both apps are long overdue and, much like the V6, finally make the VM service comparable to Sky Q.
(Just don't mention the lack of 4k programming on Virgin…)

UPDATE, 9.40am 7 Dec

Both apps are now available. From what I can see, Virgin TV Control is just a re-badged Virgin TV Anywhere with the playback facility removed. I have two iOS devices (an iPad Air 2 and an iPhone 6, both running iOS 11.2). Neither updated to the TV Control App automatically but I deleted the old App and manually downloaded the new (it's in the App store - search for Virgin Media and you'll find it). Works fine, but if you try to watch anything it points you to the Virgin TV Go app.
Virgin TV Go app is also available for download.

November 03, 2017

Sky Cinema downloads for Virgin Media customers

Did you know VM subscribers can download movies to their iPhones or iPads? It used to be a service exclusive to Sky Go customers but the latest version of the Sky Cinema iOS app has 'download' as an option. 
Downloaded movies stay on the device for a month but once you start watching it they expire after two days. 
I haven't been able to check if they can be viewed on a TV via HDMI and sorry but I don’t know about Android devices.

September 09, 2017

Virgin Media Store appears to be live

Without any great fanfare (or even an email mailing) Virgin appears to have launched it's competitor to Sky Store. V6 only, I think, but I'm guessing as I've seen no press release yet.
Prices are pretty much the same as Sky and Amazon Video. I have no idea how it compares with those services so if anyone has a play with it please let me know. (My family has been using Amazon Video for rental and downloads for the last year as we have the App on our Sony TV and I can't see us switching any time soon.)
It's notable that it doesn't link in to your Virgin Media account but requires credit card details instead. Surely they should have linked it in to the established account and payment method? For all the delays since it was announced almost a year ago this feels somewhat cobbled together.
You currently need to sign up online rather than through your TV, which you can do here: 

August 11, 2017

Liberty Global announced Virgin Media Q2 results

Virgin Media delivered a record number of 78k net additions and 21k customer net additions. Going against the tide, Virgin recorded its best-ever Q2 TV additions of 33k, compared to a prior loss of 17k.
Virgin attributes the growth to the relaunch of Virgin TV and the rollout of the new Virgin TV V6 set-top box.
A further 127k homes were added under Virgin Media’s Project Lightning in Q2. 33k broadband net additions included a 31k gain in the UK.

August 02, 2017

Virgin Media price rises confirmed for November 1st 2017 has confirmed that Virgin is putting up prices later this year.
The cost for most new and existing customers will rise by up to £3.99 per month from November 1st. This is the first time Virgin has put up prices this year, following three price hikes in 2016.
Here's how it will affect you:

BundleTier Previous price New price 
Solus 50Mb £32.25 + £1.99 
100Mb £32.25 + £1.99 
200Mb £37.25 + £2.99 
300Mb £47.25 + £2.99 
Duals 50Mb £40 + £1.99 
100Mb £40 + £1.99 
200Mb £45 + £2.99 
300Mb £55 + £2.99 
Player 100Mb £45 + £3.49 
200Mb £50 + £3.49 

300Mb£60 + £3.49 
Mix 100Mb £52 + £3.99 
200Mb £57 + £3.99 
300Mb £67 + £3.99 
Fun 100Mb £57 + £3.99 
200Mb £62 + £3.99 
300Mb £72 + £3.99 
Full House 100Mb £68 + £3.99 
200Mb £73 + £3.99 
300Mb £83 + £3.99 
Source: Virgin Media, 01/08/17 

July 31, 2017

Price rises on the way?

I've not heard anything from Virgin yet but The Register is reporting:

Cable giant Virgin is once again hiking up the price of its broadband and phone bundles, according to a list of new pricing arrangements seen by The Register.
Under the "player TV bundle" new customers can sign up to a package which includes broadband and 13 TV channels at a discount of £5.50 per per month or £32 for the first year.
But changes coming into force next month mean they will initially pay £33 per month, and then £48 per month thereafter. Meanwhile, the highest end VIP bundle, which includes 97 channels, will jump from the current starting rate of £85 to £90 for the first 12 month, and then increase to £120 afterwards.
This follows a price hike last August, which saw customers hit with an increase of £42 per year for those with a broadband and phone or "big bundle" package, and just under £36 per year for those with broadband only.
The firm's student nine-month contracts are also changing from August. Virgin's entry-level broadband package for students of 50Mbps broadband is up from £26 to £33, with the 100Mbps and 200Mbps both increasing by £3 to £39 and £44 respectively. However, the 300Mbps package is being cut from £51 per month, to £49.
The price hikes come after Virgin closed 30 retail stores recently, and launched a review of the viability of 45 offices across the UK. It currently has 130 sites across the nation.

July 10, 2017

July 18th sees the big relaunch for Sky Sports - but no price changes for VM customers

Sky Sports is getting a massive shake up later this month. Here's the news as reported by What Hi-Fi:
As expected, Sky has unveiled a major revamp of its sports channels. Under the changes - which kick in on 18th July - you'll be able to subscribe only to sport that you want to watch.
Sky will offer 10  channels, five of which will be cover specific sport. Sky Sports Premier League will only show action from the UK's top-flight league, for example, with all other football finding a home on Sky Sports Football. There are also dedicated channels for cricket, golf and F1.
You can subscribe to just one of these for £18 a month, two for £22 or three for £26. Want the full complement? It'll set you back the same £27.50 that current subscribers pay.
All the other sport that Sky covers (like rugby league, rugby union, tennis, netball, darts, NFL etc.) will be shown across two new channels: Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Arena. There's also a new channel called Sky Sports Main Event, which will showcase the biggest live sporting events.
Finally, Sky Sports News and taster channel Sky Sports Mix will be free to all Sky subscribers, even those who don't pay for Sky Sports.
But these likely savings WILL NOT apply to Virgin Media customers. According to James on Virgin's Community forum:
All the news about the Sky Sports Channel Changes are up here: Sky Sports Changes
Virgin Media will continue to offer all of the Sky Sports channels in one combined package, and when taken with our Full House pack we are the only provider where you can get all of the sport on BT Sport and Sky Sports in one package.

BUT I DON'T WANT ALL OF THE SPORT … and I'm sure I'm not alone. Not happy, Virgin Media, not happy at all. Please sort it out.

July 01, 2017

Why so quiet on VMHD?

You may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet on this site since the arrival of Virgin Media’s V6 box. To be honest, there has not been much going on so there’s little to report on - this blog is still active and I will report any big Virgin Media news as I have done for almost a decade now. There’s still no news of 4k content or Sky Atlantic on VM and the V6 bugs have been pretty much ironed out now (Netflix is suddenly working on my wi-fi connected V6!) and if anything new does materialise it will be posted here to keep you informed. I’ll shy away from posting rumours and speculation - just the facts (and the odd opinion or two).
If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, I’ve just published my second novel and I’m working on a third. Details can be found on my other website here.