October 17, 2007
One of the reasons Virgin Media have given for not carrying more High Definition channels is a lack of bandwidth whilst they're still supporting the old analogue TV service over their wires. (Understandable, though I really do wish they'd bite the bullet and make the digital switch for the entire network and swallow any churn as a strategic necessity.) And the situation's not helped by the fact that Virgin are using the legacy Telewest HD technology rather than the less bandwidth hungry new .h264 standard; an HD channel on Virgin takes roughly four times as much room as a Standard Definition one and twice as much as HD on Sky.
But hang on, there IS sufficient bandwidth there; believe it or not, at my last count there are some TWENTY FOUR of these dang-fangled +1 channels now littering the Virgin wires. What's more, nine of them are Virgin's own offerings, including the newly launched V1+1 (surely that should be called "V2"?) and Dave+1 (sounds like a party invite).
Now Channel 4 HD is coming in December, but is not confirmed for Virgin yet, and ITV HD will be launched in time for the Euro 2008 finals next summer. And let's not forget BBC HD, now almost certain to be promoted from its "trial" status to a fully fledged channel despite the cuts at the corporation to be announced today. Surely surely surely some of these timeshift channels could be handed over to an expanded HD service? With HD Ready TV sales again likely to leap in sales again in the run up to Christmas, Virgin should be considering what will drive new customers to cable. It ain't gonna be the timeshift +1 nonsense, especially in these days when Virgin are promoting the V+ as the new standard. But three or four linear HD channels, complimented by a fuller HD VOD offering, and people will notice. Anyone disagree?
Come on Virgin, you gotta admit it makes sense!