August 15, 2014

New BBC iPlayer for TiVo on its way

Marcus Parnwell, executive product manager for BBC iPlayer on TV, says on the BBC blog that they "...are working with YouView, Virgin Media and BT to bring new BBC iPlayer to these platforms. Whilst I cannot announce dates, we are targeting this year for these platforms. Similarly, other devices on our legacy version of BBC iPlayer will be migrated to the new version this year as well."
It's also been announced that iPlayer will launch on the Xbox One, but again no date was confirmed.

August 13, 2014

Sky Sports 5 HD launches

Seems to be a slight sound sync issue, but it's up and running in time for the new season on channels 516. All Sky Sports channels are free to all VM customers this coming Saturday: details here.
Sky Sports 5 is being promoted as "your home of European football" but it won't be for long: BT has the rights to the Champions League and Europa League too from the 2015/16 season and you have to wonder how Sky will spin out its smaller sports rights across five full time channels in the long run.

August 11, 2014

Now TV introduces a weekly Sky Sports pass

BSkyB's Now TV service, which first began introduced a £9.99 day pass for Sky Sports 18 months ago, has announced a Sky Sports weekly pass available from Thursday, August 14th. Now TV customers will be able to access Sky's seven sports channels for £10.99 a week. Be warned though that from 27 November this will rise to £14.99. The day pass will also be reduced to £6.99 for a limited promotional period.
Of course, they need to sort out the much-discussed service problems they have had with the internet-based service before anyone will pay anything methinks (the whole service went infamously pop during the final day of the last Premiership season due to "unforeseen" demand, ditto every live episode of Game of Thrones). The new pay-as-you-go Sky Sports may suit some folk - someone who is only interested in a particular tournament such as a Test match or golf tournament may find it cost effective- but the picture quality and reliability would need to improve dramatically before I put my money anywhere near it for live sports viewing.

August 09, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The second film of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy has arrived on Netflix UK this week, which is a welcome addition to the limited number of newer films on the service. As Sky has secured exclusive rights to so many of first-run films, it's good to see that Netflix still has some popular new releases up its sleeve. To the best of my knowledge Sky doesn't have the rights to any of the Hobbit films.

August 07, 2014

Virgin Media Q2 2014 Financial Results

Before Liberty Global bought Virgin Media the quarterly results used to make interesting reading. Sadly, under LG they're pretty much indecipherable and you need a degree in business speak to understand them Here's the latest Liberty Global press release. Here are a few of the highlights I understood:

  • Revenue has increased 3% to £1.054 billion in Q2 and 2% to £2.098 billion in the year to date.
  • Customer losses reduced in Q2 and year to date due to higher acquisitions and lower churn year on year.
  • Strong take-up of new 50+ Mbps speeds, with an increase of 424,400 in Q2 
  • 60% of TV subscribers in Q2 have TiVo compared with 44% at the end of Q2 2013

August 03, 2014

VM survey on iPlayer and Netflix TiVo performance

If you have issues with BBC iPlayer or Netflix on the TiVo you can let Virgin know via this survey on their community boards:
Personally, I find the TiVo's iPlayer and Netflix picture quality worse than my Sony TV's own Apps, in fact iPlayer HD on the TiVo is pretty much unwatchable most evenings and I've stopped even trying it. 

July 23, 2014

Family Filters fail to make their mark

Hmmm. From the BBC:
"The vast majority of new broadband customers in the UK are opting out of "child friendly" filters when prompted to install them by service providers. The industry watchdog Ofcom found fewer than one in seven households installed the feature, which is offered by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. 

"In July 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron announced the major UK internet service providers (ISPs) had agreed to offer "unavoidable choice" parental control filters, which block legal pornography and other adult subjects "by default". However, the Ofcom report found users had overwhelmingly opted-out of the filter.

"The percentage of customers taking up the option for each service provider are as follows:

  • Virgin Media - 4%
  • BT - 5%
  • Sky - 8%
  • TalkTalk - 36%

"All new subscribers to the ISPs were offered the "unavoidable choice" option, with the exception of Virgin Media, which only presented the feature to 35% of customers."

What a surprise. 

July 21, 2014

He wouldn't, would he??

You may have heard that Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy media giant TimeWarner. Lots of speculation about how he would fund it but here's an interesting suggestion: Bloomberg’s Caroline Hyde reports that Rupert Murdoch is considering selling his Italian and German pay-TV assets to help boost his offer for Time Warner. If approved, a Time Warner transaction could also trigger the sale of Fox’s stake in BSkyB. (Source: Bloomberg)
A Murdoch-free BSkyB? I will believe it when I see it. 

July 20, 2014

Virgin Media's TV Anywhere streaming app comes to Kindle Fire tablets

The Amazon Appstore now has the TV Anywhere app so it now works on the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. It'll let you watch live TV over a WiFi connection (3G/4G streaming is not currently supported), manage your set-top box recordings, browse TV listings and also serve as a remote control.
Virgin claims it's the first service of its kind to come to Amazon's marketplace in the UK.

July 19, 2014

Virgin broadband reliability poll

Just a quick word on the recent broadband poll regarding its reliability: 44% (159 voters) said that they have found VM broadband just as reliable over the last twelve months, whilst 41% said it was less reliable and only 14% thought it had improved. 
That's not great reading for Virgin as it embarks upon yet another expensive marketing campaign boasting about how great everything is for VM customers. With the big speed hike in the offing for many, let's hope VM can sort out some of the basics and give us what we are actually paying for, otherwise it will all end in tears. DNS stability would be a good start, as would Superhub 2 upgrades for those of us still struggling with the original Superhubs.