October 03, 2008

Sky HD - an alternative view

A few weeks back I published a post from Carol S, who was very happy with her decision to move from Virgin Media to Sky in order to get a full range of HD services. I haven't heard any more from Carol, so I happily assume that she's still in high def nirvana down there in the West Country.
The recent poll run on this blog suggested many (including me) are also considering the same move; 73% of respondents said they were considering Sky HD plus another 11% suggesting they would be making the move before the year ends and 7% who had already jumped. Admittedly, the poll's options were limited for respondents (sorry again!) but it pulled in just under 400 votes, the highest to date for a poll on this blog.
That's pretty damning for Virgin's HD offering. But not everyone who makes the move to Sky HD has as good an experience as Carol as this thread I recently stumbled upon illustrates.
Of course, experiences of both suppliers vary hugely. I know people who would never entertain cable again after some horrific NTL experiences. I also know folk who have had a torrid time with Sky. The reality is that there isn't a perfect TV service out that will suit everyone, and there's a level of compromise whichever supplier you opt for (Sky has the best HD offering, whereas Virgin's On Demand is superior). You pay your money and take your choice depending on your personal experience and priorities. The upheaval and expense of changing probably keeps all but the most disillusioned where they are currently. Me? I'm sticking with Virgin for now, despite the scarcity of Virgin Media HD on offer today...

4 comments:

Carol Steele said...

Yes, still in HD nirvana Nialli :)

Even more so in the next few days as most of the popular movie channels (eg action, sci-fi, comedy, Modern Greats, family,drama) + 4 other HD channels by the end of the year).

I must admit I am watching more and more of the Sky1 HD channel these days too as there are some great drama programs on there (Bones, etc and a new series from the 'Lost' team starting this Sunday called 'Fringe').

The documentary channels are great (although some people would say there are too many repeats). I've just been watching some of the new series of 'Deadliest Catch' in HD - the program was good on VM upscaled, but it blows your mind seeing it in HD. To anybody who says they can't see the difference between upscaled programs and the same program in HD should watch these. I've also been watching a few programs on BBC HD, and it might be that I have been spoilt by the quality of some of Sky1 HD and the HD documentary channels, but BBC HD does not appear to have quite the snap as the others.

So yes, I am very happy I made the switch.

GJD said...

I just don't think that Virgin places a huge amount of value on HD offerings right now, and for that reason, they're not prioritising it.

You just have to look at Sky's subscriber numbers to see that their HD service isn't tempting many people:

As of July 2008, HD spackages accounted for just over 5% of all Sky subs, according to this report:
http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyProfile?symbol=BSY.N&rpc=66

Now granted Sky charges £10ppm and a further £150 for the box, but they also offer far more choice. Some have suggested that Sky can't drop the price because they need to recoup their investment in HD-capable recording and broadcasting hardware (Richard Keys hair removal?).

Even AV freaks like my brother are happy with basic Sky+ for the money. It's the same reason Blu-Ray isn't taking off, the vast majority of punters are happy with the quality they get from SD video for the price they pay.

HD will be the future of broadcasting, but I reckon Virgin are gambling on getting their infrastructure in order before really pushing it.

Nialli said...

Glad to hear Carol's still delighted with her move to Sky HD, and interesting to note that she finds BBC HD lacks 'snap'. A guy I know at the BBC told me that they don't throw as much bandwidth at BBC HD on Sky as some other channels - maybe that's why it may appear a little weaker.
For us still on Virgin though, it looks sensational compared with what else we have!

demented said...

BBC HD isn't the be all and end all. I've been quite impressed with ITV HD picture quality of some things and the same with C4 HD (when they actually show things). It's even more stark when you consider how much beefier the BBC HD bitrates are (and how bad their codecs are). BBC HD has tons of bandwidth on sky, it just has really bad codecs so for the equivalent or lower bitrate some of the other channels can look better at times (and worse too).