May 05, 2009

Virgin Media to redesign EPG and boost HD

From MediaGuardian:

Programme guide redesign and new HD content to boost service already tried by half cable company Virgin Media's users

Virgin Media is planning to change its electronic programming guide so that catch-up TV content is as easy to find as linear television channels. The company has also been testing tying adverts around VoD content, offering another potential money-spinner.

"We are seeing catch-up programming driving things forward," Berkett added. "But HD on demand is also becoming important and we are launching, in July or August, another half a dozen linear HD channels as well. We think it is time to start to join the evolution of HD viewing, economically it is about the right time."

Earlier this year, Sky slashed the cost of its HD service and launched a major advertising push to persuade viewers to start watching HD content. The move helped the satellite broadcaster add 80,000 new customers in the first quarter.

Sky persuaded 243,000 of its customers to take up HD television in the first three months and now has more than 1 million HD households.

Now Virgin Media is looking to get in on the act. Berkett said its new HD channels with "be principally from external parties" rather than developed by its in-house content business.

Virgin Media is able to increase the amount of HD and VoD content available on its cable network, which covers roughly half the UK's households, because of a technical upgrade, which allowed the company to last year launch broadband at 50Mb per second.

Berkett refused to say how many customers have signed up to the super-fast service but the company has already started trials of an even faster broadband offering. Commercial trials of broadband at 200Mb per second began in Ashford, Kent, last week.

Alongside the introduction of much faster speeds than are currently possible on BT's copper network - which is used by rivals including Sky and TalkTalk to provide internet access - the upgrade of Virgin Media's cable network is allowing the company to upgrade its basic broadband service from 2Mb per second to 10Mb. The upgrade of its 2.4 million basic broadband customers starts this month and as a result Virgin Media recently announced it will be increasing the price of its basic service by £2 a month.

Three-quarters of the 47,300 broadband customers that Virgin Media added in the first three months of the year took a service at 10Mb per second or higher. Including a quarter of a million customers who are outside its cable network, Virgin Media currently has just under 4 million broadband users.


Sniper in the Trees said...

He's definitely making the right noises now. Even down to naming potential months, as opposed to mystical "Qnn" references..
I think it might actually be time to get excited VM people!! AND you're getting a new EPG too?? Now that's just mean!! Stealing Sky's thunder!! Whatever next?? Free Virgin Flights & train Rides for all his customers?!!! And the Largest Turkey in the shop for Mr Marley and Tiny Tim!! (sorry.. not a very seasonal reference!!)

Anonymous said...

poor at best the 2 pound will be for hd and on demand july time too far away for me if they have deals done they should be lauchend now!

Anonymous said...

A new EPG sounds great but unless they've been working on it secretly for a couple of years I can't see it happening anytime soon. Sky's brand spanking new one hasn't even rolled out to all boxes yet and was months and months behind a very long schedule. It sounds like empty proclaimations unless they have something solid to back it up.

Nialli said...

I think the new EPG could be the one I mentioned a few months back:

Alexei said...

I think deep down we were all happier when we only had 4 channels and that was it!

Anonymous said...

This has to be the most excited I've been about Virgin's HD content since I got my V+ installed 18 months(!) ago. It's been a long wait, and if I didn't dislike Murdoch so much there's no way I'd have persisted. I just hope it's worth the wait.

Alexei said...

No Seriously i am excited too! But at the minute i dont know what for? Its like being told your getting something for your birthday and their refusing to tell you what it is incase it ruins the surprise! I did when i first heard about History being one of the first HD channels think why? it would be so boring! but i watched a HD on demand War programme the other night about Finland & Russia and it was amazing! i Cant wait for more History HD! Even the War Footage looked really good! A bit grainy but all the footage from then is! Anyway Virgin Bring it on! In the New EPG i would like a search facility like my Humax had, i always miss watching a movie or something and instead of browsing through days of listings to see if its on again a search would be better!

Lee said...

omg...half-concrete ideas and plans...

Mr Berkett - now I AM worried!!!


Anonymous said...

Nialli - you gave the impression you knew something was coming recently (

Was this what you expected or was there something else you expected to hear?

Nialli said...

I had similar information from a reliable source at Virgin (though not the press office) and was told that an announcement was "imminent"