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.