February 03, 2010

More HD channels promised in the coming months

For those who missed the link, here are the words in the Eurosport HD announcement from Virgin that promise more is on the way:
The addition of Eurosport HD signals the first of several new HD channels due to launch on Virgin Media over the coming months, all available at no extra cost for customers on Virgin Media’s incredible value ‘XL’ TV package.
The addition of Eurosport will bring Virgin Media’s HD channels to eight with several more to be added in the coming months. Covering a wide range of programming for every taste including drama, sport, documentaries and music, Virgin Media’s growing HD line-up features BBC HD and 4HD, available to all Virgin TV customers, as well as ESPN HD, Nat Geo HD, MTVNHD, Eurosport HD, FX HD and LIVING HD (a Virgin Media exclusive) all available at no extra cost for ‘XL’ TV customers.
Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media said: “We’re really excited about the spring launch of Eurosport HD and the wider roll-out of several new HD channels for our customers in the coming months. With HD ready TVs now common in UK homes, the combination of HD channels as well as our pioneering TV on Demand service gives Virgin TV customers a huge range of HD programming with the unique flexibility to enjoy HD content whenever they want, at the touch of a button. With all the regular channels you’d expect, and a service ready for 3DTV too, Virgin TV is without doubt the most compelling TV offer on the market.”  
There are many who would argue with that final statement..."without a doubt"? There are almost 10 million Sky households who think otherwise, especially when it comes to high definition services

12 comments:

oxumoros said...

Has ITV given a reason why it has not yet launched an HD channel on Virgin? Would Virgin charge ITV for the privilege, or vice versa?

Erich said...

I think most sensible people have serious doubts about just how compelling Virgin's TV offer is, particularly when it comes to HD. It's not so long ago one of the Virgin big-wigs admitted they simply couldn't compete with Sky on premium sports and movies, and that really hasn't changed in any significant way.

Eurosport HD is a nice channel, but still a bit bargain basement, and by the time Virgin have 8-10 so-so HD channels, Sky will be pushing 40. If not for competition for Sky, I suspect Virgin would still be running analog only.

Firanzaxx said...

"There are many who would argue with that final statement..."without a doubt"? There are almost 10 million Sky households who think otherwise, especially when it comes to high definition services"

Under 9m Sky homes in the UK (the rest in Ireland & beyond where Virgin does not operate). Only 2m have Sky HD (including Ireland) and the vast majority of Sky subs are not in VM cable areas.

With just under 50% cable tv coverage and roughly equal pay tv uptake UK wide that means roughly 3.7m VM Vs 2.6m Sky in VM areas.

So the the statement holds up. The vast majority of those Sky customers can't get Virgin Media and do not have Sky HD either. Virgin's market leading VOD (including HD) and free linear HD with XL is a far more compelling proposition and as such is far more popular than Sky HD in VM areas.

Erich said...

Virgin's success is driven almost entirely by broadband, and people just pick up the TV bundle along with it, because it's cheap. It's a bargain basement service.

There's no question that Sky have the FAR superior offering of channels, though, particularly when it comes to HD. This is why VM customers are constantly whining about all the delicious channels on Sky they can't get, even something as mundane as ITV HD. You never hear that from Sky viewers, and the only time they seem to switch is when they want a bargain, faster broadband, and aren't concerned about particular TV content. Not to mention the piracy issue. With a minimum VM sub, you can pick up a £50 box that unlocks every single channel for "free", although it appears something will be done about that soon.

Firanzaxx said...

Erich said...

"I think most sensible people have serious doubts about just how compelling Virgin's TV offer is, particularly when it comes to HD."

I think most sensible people realise just how compelling Virgin's TV offer is, particularly when it comes to both VOD & HD. As such, when going head to head, it enjoys a higher penetration than Sky, stronger digital pay tv growth than Sky and lower voluntary churn than Sky (leavers excluding those moving off-net). Unlike Sky who can only compete by buying up rights and withholding them from rivals, Virgin has invested in services people want like VOD, Setanta/ESPN and HD channels included in a basic tier package. I am also pleased that they have taken heed of the appalling lack of decent PVR software in the UK (Dsat, Cable or DTT) and are investing tens of million in bringing TiVo back to the UK, by far the most advanced PVR the UK will ever have seen.


"It's not so long ago one of the Virgin big-wigs admitted they simply couldn't compete with Sky on premium sports and movies, and that really hasn't changed in any significant way."

It never will change without regulatory intervention. It is clearly anti-competitive for one company to dominate production and distribution but as the CEO said the other day, the agreement with TiVo to allow it to offer a breadth of video content that rivals can't match.


"Eurosport HD is a nice channel, but still a bit bargain basement, and by the time Virgin have 8-10 so-so HD channels, Sky will be pushing 40."

Virgin already has over 8-10 including 7 linear plus PictureBox HD, FilmFlex HD, Adult HD, HBO HD, Music HD, History HD, VMtv HD, Disney HD etc. More HD viewing to watch at any one time than Sky. Virgin will meet Sky for non-premium HD and will also carry Sky premiums when made available. Sky will eventually lose its advantage in linear HD but will never be able to match Virgin's supremacy in VOD, HD VOD, future possible 3D-VOD and soon unrivalled PVR functionality with TiVo.



"If not for competition for Sky, I suspect Virgin would still be running analog only."

If not for competition for Virgin, Sky would still be basic TV only, no broadband, no phone and no plans for VOD. If it wasn't for cable shaking up the market we wouldn't have 24/7 unlimited call plans, we'd all be stuck on BT 512K, would be paying twice the price we do today and have no prospect of a decent PVR.

Firanzaxx said...

Erich said...

"Virgin's success is driven almost entirely by broadband, and people just pick up the TV bundle along with it, because it's cheap. It's a bargain basement service."

Strongest growth in the last quarter was digital tv, over 80% subscribe to the mid tier L or top tier XL TV package with roughly 50% of all TV subs on XL. Virgin margins on TV are actually similar to Sky minus premiums. Virgin TV XL is actually more expensive than Sky 6 mixes unless you take a phone line, hardly bargain basement but still great value when you consider the quality of the offering Vs Sky's more limited 6 mixes.


"There's no question that Sky have the FAR superior offering of channels, though, particularly when it comes to HD."

There's no question that Virgin have a VASTLY superior combined offering of channels, VOD, free HD and free premium sports, though, particularly when it comes to VOD.


"This is why VM customers are constantly whining about all the delicious channels on Sky they can't get, even something as mundane as ITV HD."

A small minority will always shout loud about what they don't have but are less inclined to do anything about it since they know they have an overall superior and better value service. Likewise many Sky customers are constantly groaning about rip off HD charges, rip off multiroom HD charges, no VOD, expensive ESPN etc.


"You never hear that from Sky viewers, and the only time they seem to switch is when they want a bargain, faster broadband, and aren't concerned about particular TV content."

You hear them constantly going on about lack of VOD, complaints about £10 sub for HD, rip off ESPN, bitterness over Virgin's increasing number of FREE HD etc. Many claim to have switched to Virgin over TV but you also have to remember that the vast majority of Sky subs do not live in a VM serviceable area so cannot simply switch without moving home, sometimes across the country.

"Not to mention the piracy issue. With a minimum VM sub, you can pick up a £50 box that unlocks every single channel for "free", although it appears something will be done about that soon."

It's been done now, the days of cable theft will be over by the summer.

Sky has more to worry about, most are after free premium sports & movies and there is a whole lot of satellite cardsharing going on.

Erich said...

I think most sensible people realise just how compelling Virgin's TV offer is, particularly when it comes to both VOD & HD.
Virgin certainly win on VOD, but not HD. The two main areas of interest, according to both Sky and VM are premium sports and movies. Sky wins hands-down.

Virgin has invested in services people want like VOD, Setanta/ESPN and HD channels included in a basic tier package. I am also pleased that they have taken heed of the appalling lack of decent PVR software in the UK (Dsat, Cable or DTT) and are investing tens of million in bringing TiVo back to the UK, by far the most advanced PVR the UK will ever have seen.
Once they eventually get it going sometime in 3018. You can't give them points for future services. By then, Sky will probably be able to provide VOD via the internet anyway. In fact, they're already years ahead of VM, when it comes to putting their programming on the web. And where would VM be without the investment Sky makes in sports, movies, general entertainment, etc? Just look at the VM panic over losing just Sky One. If they didn't have Sky Movies, Sports, News, etc, VM would be dead in the water. Sky is really the only broadcaster with an eye on the future, who is willing to invest in and deliver the content viewers want. VM's own channels are a joke by comparison, and their investment is purely for their own benefit. Closed broadband network and VOD, while they leech of Sky's premium channels and still play the wronged party. Pathetic.

Virgin already has over 8-10 including 7 linear
Yes, they have 7 linear to Sky's 37. Wanna watch Lost, 24 or anything even remotely interesting in HD on VM? Tough luck, unless you know how to download US HD rips from their newsgroups or have a friend with Sky. Otherwise, enjoy the old movies on PictureBox HD, and a few inexpliccably random episodes of various old TV shows. :) Oh, and you can look forward to such riveting channels as Good Food HD. :) Sky probably has more HD content in a 24 hour cycle than is available on VM's entire, rarely updated VOD service.

The suggestion that VM can match Sky on hd is just laughable. They can't even keep up with their SD offerings.

A small minority will always shout loud about what they don't have but are less inclined to do anything about it since they know they have an overall superior and better value service.
Only if you count in broadband and telephone.

Likewise many Sky customers are constantly groaning about rip off HD charges, rip off multiroom HD charges, no VOD, expensive ESPN etc.
Yes, like I said, VM is a cheaper bargain basement service, but you never hear Sky viewers complain about content, because they have tons more than VM, particularly when it comes to HD.

Sky has more to worry about, most are after free premium sports & movies and there is a whole lot of satellite cardsharing going on.
Heh, card sharing doesn't come anywhere near the piracy problem Virgin has, and card sharing will be just as much an option as it is on Sky, and that's a best case scenario for VM.

Sky wins hands down. I wish I could get it where I live.

drwhofans said...

We would like thank Virgin Media, for not charging extra for the HD channels like Sky, which is a total rip off £10 more a month, just to receive better picture and sound, which IMHO should be provided anyway.



Also another very good point with Virgin Media is, with us being on there XL Tv, we get the ESPN channels for free, Sky again charge up to £12 a month more for these stations. So overall there is £22 a month more, one would pay with Sky, rather than Virgin Media.

garry said...

I for one welcome more free hd channels to virgin eurosport hd will be a great addition,the tour de france looked stunning last year especially the mountain stages.

James said...

I was recently speaking to a satellite engineer (who doesn't work for Sky) and he was saying that Virgin currently have the issue of bandwidth due to them still legally having to run analogue signals. And we also all know the other obvious issue - MPEG2. I think once these are gotten rid of, Virgin will be able to push more channels. I think Virgin are doing a grand job at the moment so any additions to the service just makes it better.

I recently watched a film on a supposed HD movie channel on a 47" Sony Bravia. It was awful! Similar colours were blending in dark scenes and overall picture quality was rather low, no better than the SD feed. VM:HD channels are far superior in my opinion and despite less Linear content, i'd still rather go with VM.

James said...

Just to clarify, the movie channel was a Sky one.

christhebhoy33 said...

Virgin Media is ripping its customers off by charging them twice for the same channels only in hd.....Come on virgin Media you want me to pay another £7.oo pounds for movies in hd a month when every other channel in hd is free....I aready pay over a hundred a month for XL deal why if I have a HD TV A HD BOX do i have to be robbeed into another seven pounds.....COME ON WAKE UP CAUSE WE ARE STARTING TO....what about some customer loyalty here.....