March 08, 2010

Film4 HD to launch exclusively on Virgin Media

It would be good to have an actual date rather than a season...mind you, judging from last summer it only lasts for 24 hours anyway, albeit nobody knows which particular day summer will fall on in advance! Best news this year, and E4 HD too. Here's the full press release.

Film4 HD to launch exclusively on Virgin Media
  • High Definition films from Film4 for the very first time
  • E4 HD and Film4 HD join Virgin Media’s growing HD channel line-up
Virgin Media today announced the upcoming launch of Film4 HD and E4 HD on its digital TV platform. Virgin Media’s digital TV customers will be the first to watch Film4 in glorious High Definition (HD) as the channel launches exclusively on Virgin Media this summer.
Film4 HD will offer a daily line-up of fantastic movies. The channel will showcase the very best of British film-making, including Slumdog Millionaire, Mike Leigh’s Happy Go Lucky and Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric, as well as US independent films, Hollywood blockbusters, mainstream drama and comedy, foreign films and cult cinema alongside special features, in-depth interviews and exclusive programming, Film4 is the UK’s favourite film channel.
E4 HD offers hugely popular programmes including Glee, Skins and Hollyoaks in HD and simulcasts the E4 schedule. Alongside a choice of Channel 4 commissioned programmes, E4 HD also offers a range of films and well known US series including Desperate Housewives, 90210, and Ugly Betty in HD. E4 HD is expected to launch on Virgin Media in April.
Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “Channel 4 has a great track record in delivering innovative and compelling content and we’re delighted to bring some of their very best films and most popular programmes to our customers in stunning HD. As more and more households become HD-ready, we’re lining up content that makes the most of High Definition and are making HD available to all our of customers for no extra fee.”
Sarah Rose, Head of VoD and Channel Development at, Channel 4, said, “We’re really excited to be launching Film4 HD and showcasing some fantastic British films to millions of viewers in High Definition. There’s a growing appetite for HD and our line up of C4HD, E4HD and, now, Film4HD provides a great choice of HD content for viewers.”
E4HD and Film4HD join Virgin Media’s growing HD line-up of C4HD, BBC HD, ESPN HD, FX HD, MTVN HD, National Geographic HD, LIVING HD (a Virgin Media exclusive) and the forthcoming Discovery HD and Eurosport HD channels.
So far this year, Virgin Media has announced four new HD channels and the company plans to reveal more details about further launches in the coming months.

33 comments:

Square eyes said...

What a result.

If you take into consideration the rest of the channels that VM are going to be launching, their basic HD line up looks a hell of a lot better than Sky's.

Can't wait for later in the year for when the sports & movies arrive as well.

BikeNutt said...

This is great news indeed!

lee said...

Really does give credence to those of us who said "stick with it, contracts take time" - all paying off now, and with Tivo coming in some form or another, I reckon Sky are going to get scared!! (They're already advertising in every space possible in the media)

Afront said...

Brilliant news, must now look into how to upgrade the Hard Disk in my V+ box...

Nialli said...

That's a good point - I doubt very much that VM would allow folk to do their own upgrades, but they could offer the service of a disc upgrade for a one-off. I'd pay for a 1tb disc - they could either do an onsite upgrade or simply swap the box out for one with the larger disc (Samsung V+ please)

Big Red said...

E4 - Dont want to say I told you so but hear it goes - I told you so.

Film4 HD - Shock - just asked source why this was not on the original list I published on the 4th March.

It seems this was not part of any original agreement or plan but VM have managed to get it.

Also can not see anything on Sky website so could this be a 2nd VM only HD channel?

Erich said...

Can't say I've ever watched anything on Film4, or that I plan to, because it's HD, but at least VM can finally say they have some kind of HD movie channel.

Nialli said...

Veteran visitors to this blog will know that I am a massive Film4 fan, so I welcome the arrival of the HD version more enthusiastically than most.
One thing it may do is make Virgin less desperate to secure the Sky Movies channels package - they can now tick the HD movies box, the gap missing with their "free" HD service. Personally, I hope they get Sky Movies and Sports asap, but it won't be a priority for all I guess.
Oh, and expect more HD announcements in the next few weeks...

Big Red said...

@ Nialli

Agree - film4 has improved loads over the past year or so.

Were now starting to see some big movies and not that fare behind Sky Movies release.

Were expecting a few more announcements soon on other releases but this takes VM HD channels to 11 FREE HD channels + BBC iPlayer HD.

Square eyes said...

Hey Guys,

Don't forget on the back of the V+ box is a USB port, this is not active at the moment. However it is a simple software upgrade to enable this port. If VM would enable the port with an upgrade, you could attach an external hard drive.

Just food for thought...

Erich said...

I can't see VM enabling you to use your own external storage. It really is a pain that you're not able or allowed to make backups of your recordings, particularly when the standard drive is as small as it is. Sky don't have an official way of doing it either, but there are relatively easy ways to backup their recordings, or indeed upgrading the size of the drive.

Big Red said...

Was a there a thing with the old Sky HD boxes - think it was the thompson one's were they still had the component slots.

I believe you could use these and then records onto DISK or DVD Harddrive etc.

Hence why Sky scrapped that and the new boxes don't have the component option.

Erich said...

Well, you can still record via scart, the removal of component out has not changed that, but in both cases, these are analog connections, and you would still have a lower quality recording, which is a bit crap in the digital age. What ends up on your V+ or Sky+ drive is a 100% perfect copy of the original broadcast, and you should really have an option to back it up.

Square eyes said...

The V+ does have the option to record to a recordable DVD, and if you speak with VM an update to the box may be in the planning. The updates can be completed when VM send general update through the night. Again though how many times have we heard VM say that.

As far as I am aware Sky has never given their customer the option to record from any of their boxes, and believe me after having them for over 20 years, I should know.

If they don't update the box, I hope the don't out price the new boxes.

Erich said...

The V+ does have the option to record to a recordable DVD...

As far as I am aware Sky has never given their customer the option to record from any of their boxes...

Surely you can record to VHS, DVD recorder, DVR, etc, via scart on a Sky box. How is that different from the V+?

Square eyes said...

The V+ box gives you that option in the recorded programmes, under the V+ extras section - it says transfer to VHS/DVD

With Sky due to the macrovision the picture would sometimes come out light & dark or with lines running across it.

Erich said...

I don't think anyone would seriously consider macrovision much of a hurdle, if they wanted to record from their Sky box. And the V+ "backup" option is exactly the same: Analog output. With the Sky box, you at least have an "unofficial" way of backing up the original recordings without losing quality. I would be thrilled to bits if VM would enable such a thing via USB.

Square eyes said...

Perhaps Sky have changed the protection now I don't know, but I do know that it was not possible at one time.

And for saying "unofficial" way of backing up, well that should be official because the option is made available by VM.

But I do agree it would be great for V+ customers if they do enable the USB port....we can only live in hope.

Erich said...

Actually, the "unofficial" method I was referring to with Sky, is that you can download a piece of software on the web, that let's you to move recordings from your Sky+ drive onto your PC's harddrive. From there you can edit them, re-encode them, put them on a DVD-R, etc, etc, but the important point is that it's a 100% perfect copy, not some hideous, analog VHS or DVR recording.

As far as I know, this isn't possible with the V+, which is really going to struggle with space, due to the combination of the small hard drive, and the inefficient MPEG2 codec. A single 2 hour movie is going to take up more than 15gb of space.

tvsersity said...

FilmFour is a nice surprise but I can't say I've watched anything on FilmFour in a very long time. It's not just due to the lack of HD either, but more down the pretty dire film selection.

FilmFour used to be pretty interesting, with a good mix of cult and art house. Now though it's so dumbed down and boring it may as well be a Sky channel, and anything interesting it does show I've nearly always already seen.

Erich said...

Yes, I just had a look through this month's schedule, just to see if the channel had gotten more interesting since I last watched it, and if anything, it's probably gotten worse.

The highlights include:

Mighty Joe Young
Dogma
the first X-Files movie
The Truth About Cats and Dogs
Son of The Mask

These are movies scientists pull out to prove the existence of DVD rot. In fact, E4 may turn out to have a better movie line-up. :)

Nialli said...

Sorry guys, disagree. Film4 schedules have a regular diet of four and five star films (Radio Times ratings) and, whilst every film channel has duff ones (Sky Premiere often out-duffing them all) Film4 is for my money is amongst the most varied in terms of content and consistent with regards to quality.

Erich said...

I wouldn't exactly say a Radio Times rating system carries much weight, but it's not necessarily that the movies aren't any good, I quite enjoyed The X-Files and Mighty Joe Young 12 years ago, but they're so veeeery old.

I just don't have much interest in a movie channel with movies I've already seen on DVD or on Sky Movies. Like Tvsersity said, it seems like Film4 at least used to have a more eclectic line-up of movies you might not have seen anywhere else.

That's just me, though, and I would imagine it will be a popular part of VM's HD lineup, and from a marketing perspective, it's certainly important for VM to be able to say they have an HD movie channel.

Nialli said...

If you think films from the nineties are "veeeery old" then best you stick with the one half decent movie a week fayre offered by Sky Premiere or FilmFlex.
The more arty films on Film4 are after the main presentation at 9pm btw - there have been some cracking movies on at around midnight recently, especially if you don't mind subtitles.
Of the non-Sky movie channels Film4 is the best. TCM still doesn't even do widescreen (and screens older movies, albeit many classics) whilst the likes of True Movies and Movies 24 are TV rather than cinema releases.
Give me Film4 HD anyday.

Erich said...

I agree completely that Film4 is a big step up from TCM. It's simply disgraceful that this channel hasn't even made the switch to widescreen yet, and True Movies and Movies 24 are movie channels in name only. I can't imagine who would watch those.

As I said when Eurosport HD was announced, I was surprised they didn't go for a movie channel before more sport. As it turned out, they had movies in the pipleline, and I would expect Film4 HD to be a more popular addition to VM's service than Eurosport HD. I just don't plan to watch it myself.

Chris said...

Erich - I know it's all relative, but I'd trust Andrew Collins and the RT film guide ahead of most others. Their rating system is very fair and they're not afraid to point out a turkey, even if it's on one of the Beeb's networks.

Nialli said...

Apparently TCM (and CNN too) are broadcast in Europe in 4:3 ratio because they're widely viewed in hotels, where the old TV size is still predominant.

Big Red said...

As I'm sure your all aware ITV HD is free on FreeView (Must have a HD FreeView Box)

Rummors from Sky is they are ready to issue statement on a 3rd Free to view HD channel.

In my eyes this could only be two channels ITV HD or Five HD.

Fingers crossed VM also come out with same statement.

goonergaz said...

FTR the copy features are better on V+ forr standard transfering to a DVD recorder, V+ does it in the background - whereas Sky takes over your TV.

Altho this is good news for many it just makes me think the services are less likely to 'come together' and therefore less chance of the Sky channels coming to VM in HD :(

goonergaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erich said...

FTR the copy features are better on V+ forr standard transfering to a DVD recorder, V+ does it in the background - whereas Sky takes over your TV.
I would never in a million years backup through to a crummy analog connection to a lossy format anyway. With Sky you have an unofficial way of saving the 100% perfect original copy. Not ideal, but doable. Not at all possible on the V+.

Altho this is good news for many it just makes me think the services are less likely to 'come together' and therefore less chance of the Sky channels coming to VM in HD :(
VM will still want Sky's premium channel. It's almost entirely in the hands of Ofcom at this stage.

Dan said...

The only HD channels I watch regularly are BBC HD, CH4HD and occasionally FX HD. I'd probably watch a few things on E4 HD and the odd FilmFour HD movie, but I'd quite happily get rid of LivingHD, Nat Geo HD and Discovery HD in exchange for Sky1HD -- *that* is where most of the shows I'd want to watch in HD are.

goonergaz said...

WRT coying, the fact is 99% of users will use the standard way of doing things. I apreciate your PoV, all I was doing was stating the 'general user' otions as the info posted earlier was incorrect or incomplete.