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 seriouslyCrumbs 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: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...
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.
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.