November 05, 2007

The +1 vs. HD debate

Last month I ran a small poll on this site regarding the proliferation of "+1" channels on Virgin Media and whether that bandwidth would be better used delivering a handful of linear HD channels in addition to the BBC HD trial channel. (For those new to the Blog, my original post on the matter is here.) I also posted a thread on the topic on Digital Spy and Cable Forums.
As you'd probably expect for a blog on HD services on VM cable, the responses to the poll were heavily in favour of the notion of the +1 bandwidth being used for additional HD channels:
  • 85% agreed with the notion
  • 10% said that the +1s were not dispensible but were essential
  • And 4% said that HD was not going to take off in the UK
  • (There were 48 respondents in all)
The debates on the threads though was more surprising: a number of correspondents felt that the +1s were invaluable, and when I checked out the BARB viewing figures I was taken aback by some of them - some +1s get almost as many viewers as the real-time channels! For example, Challenge +1 is almost on a par with its parent. Bizarre
Whilst I'm not questioning the value of the +1s for the bigger channels (C4+1, E4+1, Virgin 1+1, Sky Movies Premier +1) some really are a 'luxury' which could be sacrificed for the more forward looking adoption of more linear HD channels, notably the imminent C4HD and ITVHD services. I was talking to a friend in the US and he tells me that he has over 30 HD channels now on his cable set up...and NO +1s. His cable supplier (I can't recall if it's ComCast or TW Cable) now ships its V+ equivalent as its standard box, so he couldn't see why they would have them, especially with VOD content available FoC. Having said that, once I explained to him what they were, he thought it would be good to have them for some channels, which I guess is true as long as "some" doesn't restrict the delivery of other services.
Anyway, for now I'm taking the poll offline. Thanks to everyone who responded. 10% of the blog's visitors in October took the time to voice their opinion, so sincere thanks to all.

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