April 25, 2008

"Virgin only needs one HD channel"!!!

Virgin: We only need one HD channel
Big story over at Digital Spy that interprets comments made by Virgin Media management as saying "they only need one HD channel". VM don't actually say "one's enough" (bit of tabloid journalism on DS's part there). Here are the salient points without the DS spin:

"Chief executive Neil Berkett and chief technology officer Howard Watson both addressed the issue of advanced TV services at the Cable Congress in Madrid this week.

"Watson said the popularity of HD in the US - where significantly more content and channels are generally available - was driven by the country's NTSC analogue television system. It is generally accepted that it gives a worse picture than PAL, the alternative employed in the UK.

"We don’t have the ‘Never The Same Colour’ challenge that has driven HD offering in the US," said Watson, according to Broadband TV News. "We have 7m HD ready sets in the UK and I still think HD works really well for certain bits of content but is disappointing for others.

"I don’t think we’re losing customers because we don’t have the HD lineup that Sky has. It’s not causing us a churn problem - all of our HD customers [have] PVRs - so it's difficult to separate them, but a part of that is HD."
"Neil Berkett used his comments at the Madrid event to talk up its commitment to offering VoD. ... Berkett said the strategy was going well - subscribers now spend more hours watching VoD than linear channel Five - but admitted the "need to educate consumers and drive experimentation" in order to push the service."

Still disheartening mind - has Berkett seen the paucity of VOD HD content of late? It's thrown up in such a slapdash manner it beggars belief - last night two episodes of Band of Brothers were added to the first five: episode 7, and a second listing for episode 5! How inept is that??

I maintain this blog because there seems to be a genuine passion for more HD services on Virgin Media - it gets around 6,000 visits a month and the folk who comment on it are all singing the same tune - we genuinely need more HD on the Virgin Media. If Freesat launches with a handful of HD channels and better bit rates for the Freeview line up, I reckon a lot of folk will move both from Sky and Virgin. I don't disagree with VM that Video On Demand is fantastic and very important, but they've got to promote it better than the nonsensical Samuel L Jackson ads that look great but hardly educate.

Postscript: on another Digital Spy thread, Virgin are saying this in an email to customers
"We still agree with you that adding both the main HD channels (eg BBC HD) and an increasing vod HD selection is the way to go. But it's early days as you know. Ch4 HD has lots of SD still in it, and neither ITV nor Ch5 have launched HD" properly yet. Meanwhile, we will continue to add more specific HD content to the vod platform.


Sondar said...

Urgh, that just makes me so angry. I'm counting the months until my 12 month contract is up so I can go back to Sky. :(

virgin1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
virgin1 said...

I think it makes a lot of sense, but only if Virgin is prepared to launch more HD content on demand. Personally i dont want to be tied to linear HD channels as the available content is so poor across all HD services. The only HD that would really matter is football... Sky Sports HD and potentially a Setanta Sports HD. Its all fine and well having 18 channels but Sky HD is thoroughly lacking in quality HD content. I have had Sky HD for some time now and the only benefit is Sports HD. Standard programming verges on looking "unrealistic" at times due to HD bit rates, National Geographic programmes can look awesome in HD and the recent Blue Planet and Planet Earth in HD were stunning on BBC HD.

But people moaning about Hollyoaks in HD or even news channels... seriously, go to Sky and you will wonder what the extra £10 per month is really for.