July 19, 2008

Virgin's response to the petition

Virgin has responded to the petition:

This is in response to your letter addressed to Neil Berkett, dated 30 June 2008. I was pleased to be able to speak with you today and am writing as promised.
Customers with a V+ box and a correctly set up HD TV can view the following high definition content:
BBC HD channel. A specific channel from the BBC broadcasting programmes in high definition; this can be found on channel 108 and available to all digital TV customers with a V+ box no matter what package they have.
On Demand. A range of high definition programmes and films can be fond in the Virgin Media on demand service. HD programmes in the TV Choice or Movies on demand will be clearly stated as being high definition, and may cost more than the standard definition programmes. HD programmes can also be found by selecting ‘more on demand’ and then ‘High Definition’.
In your note you comment that you are disappointed with the pool levels of HD content on our service. We are sorry that you feel this way. I would like to reassure you that we ware focusing on our HD services within the On Demand service, especially in the Movies genre and continue to look at the linear HD channels available. I have passed your comments on to the appropriate teams for consideration.
Whilst we are working hard on our broadband development to ensure that we continue to deliver a ‘Hero broadband’ service, we are committed to ongoing development on our TV services. We have recently improved our VoD Music and more recently our Bollywood/Asian VoD Services. In addition, we are the only TV provider able to off the BBC iPlayer service via the TV. We hope you are enjoying these services.
We always try to be open and upfront with our customers. As yours is by no means the first mention of dissatisfaction we have received concerning the HD content of our Digital TV services, we are taking this seriously and, as mentioned above, I have passed this on to the appropriate teams.
Penny D Patchett
Chief Executive’s Office

Hmmm. Can't say I'm completely surprised to the response from Virgin to the petition for more HD services. That the letter actually fails to mention the petition itself (which was over 800 signatures when sent - it now numbers over 1,000) suggests that this is a standard response churned out for the seemingly many complaints about the lack of HD services they're receiving.
Any revelations? 'I would like to reassure you that we are focusing on our HD services within the On Demand service' would be more assuring if we saw that with the HD content growing, but it's a fraction of what it was six months ago. Movies? Two dozen movies that features a handful of titles you've heard of and a majority that you haven't is hardly a service to shout about. Sky has three HD movie channels regularly cycling content - Sky HD may be £10 a month, but you'd pay more than that with a movie a week from the Filmflex HD selection. And don't look at Sky Box Office's HD selection: it features all films you'd want to see in HD that FilmFlex (the superior service in every other aspect) only shows in SD.
So the only crumb of comfort is that last paragraph;
As yours is by no means the first mention of dissatisfaction we have received concerning the HD content of our Digital TV services, we are taking this seriously
Crumbs indeed; hardly a response likely to stop folk switching to Sky HD.
One of this blog's regular readers, Dazza124, has also received some feedback from Virgin when complaining about the lack of HD - at least Darren had a personally written response, rather than the 'another complaint about HD' standard one:
Neil Berkett passed me your e-mail. I hope that I can answer at least some of your issues:
On HD, there are three key areas where we want to add services for customers exactly like yourself. Firstly, we do want to add some of the broadest audience HD services (like BBC HD) that may also go onto Freesat. I cannot give you dates or individual channel names if/until those commercial agreements are signed. You will see from BBC HD availability that our platform works well today in delivering these.
Secondly, we do want to add more HD VOD content and organize this amongst all the other titles on the service so that you can find and select it more easily. Our infrastructure gives us essentially unlimited capacity to add as many titles as we can get on reasonable terms. Thirdly, IPTV is interesting as you benefit from having a potentially better broadband connection via cable than by phone line. Hence if iPlayer or any other similar content becomes available in true HD, the difference between Virgin and other options becomes much more noticeable. Obviously we are encouraging this, although we also recently put iPlayer (for example) on the TV platform as well so you should be getting better quality for that programming today, rather than wait for HD IPTV.
I do know that this isn't everything you wanted on the "Christmas list" below, but please be assured that we are working hard to evolve our service to take full advantage of your 1080p TV.
Thank you for your continued custom.
Best regards
Andrew Barron
Again, nothing revelatory and little comfort to those who invest monthly in Virgin Media's TV services at a premium. I love the bit 'add as many titles as we can get on reasonable terms' - not that Virgin are providing HD content on the cheap...
One small note of good news; I see the first six episodes of The Sopranos season two are now available in On Demand in HD. Catch 'em quick; they won't be around for long.


dazza124 said...

Don't want to sound to negative but there not much commitment to HD although VM said they are listening.What they should be doing is visiting this and inside virginmedia blog to gauge opinions from customers or do a online survey.I have filled in 2 survey's emailed to me from VM so far highlighting great service,poor HD.
It seems the strategy of NO linear HD is currently the way of thinking.
I strongly believe in consumer power so this is just the begining and we all must continue to let our voices be heard however disheartening and laborious it might be.

Nialli said...

Dazza - Fully agree. I'm going to email that guy at Virgin who wrote to you, as he seemed to have more idea about what's going on than the Chief Exec's office. I'll send him a PDF of the latest signature list - 1022 last time I checked. If we don't shout at them, they won't hear. If they ignore us, that's their negligence, not our silence. (Hey, that's pretty good...)

demented said...

Not only is it an autmated response but other than the bollywood reference looks like it may have been written about a six months to a year ago. Music on demand improvements? No it hasn't, I think it's talking about the boost months ago. Movies had a similar boost but that was time ago too.

Other news I noticed, this week was to have been the first week with weekday average around 5hrs on BBC HD. Next week after tweakings to the listings is actually above that. The head of BBC HD being replaced might mean full steam ahead to get upto 9hrs a day.

Anonymous said...

It's lucky the upscaled SD looks so good. It is the one thing that prevents me from voting with my feet and going to Sky. I'd take the VOD more seriously if it wasn't uploaded by someone who obviously doesn't value putting the episodes on in the complete and right order!!!

dazza124 said...


let us know how you get on with a respoonse.

glennr77 said...

I've had the V+ box for almost a year and a half now, and have asked countless times "when are we getting more HD channels", to which the same responses on "thier's loads on VOD" (which is rubish, especially for HD lately), then "SD looks good enough up-scalled" - true, on my old 37" LCD it was fine, but on a 50" Plasma its starting to look a bit blury now, and last week it was "more HD stuff is coming, once we've sorted out the technical issues" which was just pathetic. I threated to leave for Sky then get £10 a month off my bill and told another lie to make me stay. Its the last time thats gonna work. 6 more months and I'm gone. Sky can do same package I get now for pretty much the same price, just gonna miss the odd programs on VOD that are worth watching, but, with over 15 HD channels alone I won't be missing them long