April 21, 2009

Virgin: no extra charge for additional HD channels

A few folk have contacted this blog having received emails from Virgin Media Customer Services after they complained about the lack of HD channels on cable. Here's what they were sent:
Please be assured we are aware that the amount of HD content currently available is limited.
We are trying to get more channels in HD as a priority. It is taking a lot longer then we would have hoped.
We have to negotiate the rights with the other providers to show the channels in HD. As our competitor Sky is one of those providers it is proving difficult to come to an agreement.
We can confirm that unlike Sky, when we have more HD content you will not be charged extra to have access to the channels.
There will be more channels available throughout the year. We do not want to give specific dates until we are 100% certain that we can transmit the channels.
Please look out for anything we may send through the post as you will be informed of any developments.
So, still no dates, but the bit in bold is news and good news too. And it sounds like some Sky HD channels are among those being negotiated for (though not movies or sport).
There are some posts on a DS thread along similar lines, too. As always, there's also some speculation (and scepticism) as to when these channels will arrive and there's the usual list of possible channels - Discovery, C4, ITV, Sky1 and Virgin1 - mentioned in dispatches.


Sniper in the Trees said...

Let's face it folks, if VM decided to levy a charge for this long awaited, much promised extra content, it would surely only serve to increase the exodus across to their "competitor". I think on this occasion, they are aware of the consumer pressure on this front. Stealth price rises in other areas will offset the extra cost as they won't be prepared to take a hit on their bottom line for providing the new channels.

Anonymous said...

It's all swings and roundabouts... doesn't really matter how they itemise it, just need to compare the full price of packages you're interested in from the different providers. There already IS a £5 a month charge to rent the V+ box (which admittedly is for recording as well as HD) if you're not on XL TV, even after paying an increased installation charge that felt like buying the box. Sky do charge the £10 a month for all subscription HD... but there's also BBC HD etc. and of course free upscaling if you already have the box but don't want to pay the £10 any more, with VM you need to pay your £5 to keep the box whether you still want the HD channel(s!) or not. Freesat looking more and more appealing...

Sniper in the Trees said...

Exactly how I made my decision.
1) Took stock of what I wanted (content wise)
2) Looked at my total cost of ownership with VM
3) Compared that to the total cost of ownership with Sky
4) made the switch.

Basically, with everything taken into account (TV, Internet, Phone) Sky worked out aproximately £10 a month cheaper for me and gave me the HD I was after.

Anonymous said...

They can't tell us when we are getting HD channels. They can't tell us how many there will be. They can't tell us which channels there is. But they do know the price? Bizarre.

anonymous said...

I'm afraid I don't have much sympathy to the negotiations taking longer than I expected, although I do believe them. Virgin Media's attitude to getting the channels is like a student who leaves their essay to the last minute and then gets an extension and then doesn't get on with the work and complains about their lack of planning and everyone but themselves. It's fairly clear to me Virgin left the talks far, far, later than they should have. The history of the company tells us negotiations can take years to add stuff e.g. sci-fi, extra movie channels to telewest, sky basics, itv on demand etc. Promising 3 or 4 HD channels by 31st March and then negotiating shortly before this deadline and then releasing snippets saying "we're working on it" is not the way to go about things, we'll be lucky to get any before Q4 2009 if that's how they act.

Anonymous said...

lol at Sniper in the Trees, nearly every post they make relates them them switching to sky.

I see the username and can predict how it will end.

Anonymous said...

"They can't tell us when we are getting HD channels. They can't tell us how many there will be. They can't tell us which channels there is. But they do know the price? Bizarre."

They told (but can't financially guarantee to any potential switchers) that more HD channels (more than one) are coming at some point this year, and no they can't talk about things they're negotiating until they're finalised. All they've said is no EXTRA charge for HD. They can increase the XL or other TV sub prices, they can introduce more tiers and packages... just no charge for "HD" like the Sky £10 (according to some none too reliable source that's not exactly going to be very legally binding if you tried to get a refund on your 12 month contract when they don't live up to that promise!).

"It's fairly clear to me Virgin left the talks far, far, later than they should have."

Hmm don't think that's fair. Maybe they've not been investing the time/money into it that they should have, but they are the underdog compared to sky and I could see it could take them longer even if they started earlier than sky.

Nialli said...

The XL package has just gone up by £1, so they're getting the cash in early.
Unless OFCOM acts in Virgin's favour, Sky HD will still be the most comprehensive show in town. A year or so ago Berkett positioned VM as "Freeview plus": with HD, it looks like we'll have at best "Freesat plus". Too little too late for the (high spending) demanding customers but probably just enough for the masses.
What I think Mr Berkett fails to grasp is that faster broadband and telecoms packages are for the main part invisible to most customers, whereas TV is apparent every day. An inferior TV offering gets noticed; for most, slower broadband is an inconvenience that gets tolerated.
I'm looking forward to the next quarter's results, especially the numbers on 50mb broadband take up.

Anonymous said...

Yet again virgin seem to miss the the boat.
As a cable operator they should have been first in bringing HD to our TVs.
No subtitles on HD or VOD or Filmflex when 1 in 7 have hearing problems.
50meg broadband that you can't use as most webservers restrict you to 10meg max, and then stop torrents after advertising legal torrent sites.
It all come down to total chaos with no clear direction for the company...

Anonymous said...

"and then stop torrents"

Haven't heard about that. Was it in the news or your experience? Is that just the 50mb or certain trackers? I've had very nearly full VM-advertised connection speed on many a torrent.

Anonymous said...

Nialli - you say 'not movies or sport' with regard to the HD channels that Virgin are negotiating for. Did I miss an earlier thread? Where did this come from? I think most of us would think these HD channels are essential to keep us from switching to Sky. If they are not included, I'll be switching over as, pointed out by another commenter, the cost difference for a comparable Sky package is negligible.

Nialli said...

There'll be no Sky sports or movies if (as stated by Virgin) the new HD channels are no additional charge: there's no way Sky would let Virgin give them away gratis whilst selling them to satellite customers.
The best we can hope for is that OFCOM rules Sky has to make them available to Virgin and we get them for the same price as they're offered on Sky.
However, Berkett did say late last year that he has been offered a deal on Sky movies and sport but didn't find the terms commercial. Mind you, that was around the time he also promised more HD in the "next three months"....

Sniper in the Trees said...

Lol at "Anonymous"
I see your username and.... You could be anyone!!

The thing is, I was a VM customer and made the switch so I talk about how things relate to my experiences..

I can talk about the football if you like??
Silly man!! (or woman??)

Sirius said...

I think "anonymous" thinks you should be more pro-Virgin Sniper in the Trees.
You've moved to Sky, fair enough, but this is really a blog based on trying to get Virgin to provide a proper HD services. While I'm certain your Sky promotions make uncomfortable reading for many here who are not just Virgin customers but also Virgin fanatics, I'm also certain it won't hurry Virgin into launching any more HD content.
In other words, you're rubbing salt into an open wound for many people. Remember, many Virgin customers can't get Sky even if they want to due to building regulations etc.

Nialli said...

I don't have an issue with folk like Carol and "Sniper" posting pro-Sky comments on this blog as long as they're informative to other visitors. I'll remove stuff if it gets repetitive or hits a "Sky vs Virgin" groove as that topic's repeated ad nauseum elsewhere.

Sniper in the Trees said...

I don't intend for my comments to appear to be promoting any partcular platform. I'm not on comission or anything! (if only!!)Just sharing my recent move experience and my comparisson thoughts on the two platforms.. I've always said that it's a consumer market and a two way street. I follow the progress of VM's HD saga with interest. In fact I will say something pro-Virgin.. I MISS iPlayer and movies that start when I tell them too!! I had forgotten that annoyance about the sky platform in the time I'd been with VM.

Also.. the flaky picture and "Poppy" sound when it rains hard!! Never got that with Optic cable!!

There.. A bit of balance for you!!

Carole... They're on to our undercover Sky recruiting work I think!! Run for your life!! Haha!!