This month’s blog poll asked “How should Virgin Media deliver High Definition programming?” We had a majority (52%) vote for “full” channels like BBC HD or C4 HD. Sadly, that’s not where it appears Virgin are going strategically at the moment, preferring to offer HD selectively via (the undervalued) Video On Demand. So, how many voted for Virgin’s preferred option? A measly 2%! Bloody hell, Berkett - listen to your customer base!
Interestingly, 44% felt that a combination of the two would be most appropriate. That’s not insignificant and is demonstrates that if VM can strike a suitable balance they’ll appease almost half of their customers’ HD needs.
My personal view is that VoD is a great way of delivering HD content, but a number of additional regular HD channels will be essential to remain competitive with the new FreeSat service when it launches in 2008. We have to be realistic that VM under its current management (and with some technical restrictions due to the adoption of Mpeg 2) will never offer as many HD channels as Sky HD. But then, what is Sky offering in HD that appeals to the masses? HD football has limited appeal, the movie channels have weak programming and Sky One HD is running out of new content thanks to the Writers’ strike in Hollywood. Which’ll mean even more Simpsons. In HD. Be still my beating heart…
Much as I like the idea of Nat Geo, History, Sky Arts and Discovery in HD, I never actually watch them in SD, preferring the BBC’s factual offerings. FX in HD? MTV in HD? Hardly compulsive stuff. Compared to VM’s 100+ hours of HD on demand, Sky’s offering isn’t that strong. And the Sky HD box struggles to record two concurrently btw – check the various forum threads on it on Digital Spy. Like the V+, erratic recording and limited disc capacity will be an issue with more linear channels - another plus point for VoD HD.
If VM secure at least C4 HD, ITV HD and maybe a future Five HD offering, that plus whatever the BBC serves us will just about do me if they keep adding to the On Demand library too. Maybe I’m easily satisfied, but that would mean the majority of my regular viewing would then be in HD. A guy can dream, can’t he?
(Incidentally, the poll respondents were 290 in total, two of which voted for the “HD is a dead duck” option. This blog, in its first full month, has attracted over 3,500 page views and has had over 1,700 unique visitors. Steadily growing over the month, we’re averaging now 200 hits a day. Wake up Virgin…your public's hunger for HD is growing!)