March 05, 2010

Neil Berkett reveals Tivo on Virgin Media boxes this Autumn

Virgin Media Chief Executive Neil Berkett has confirmed that TiVo software will be in Virgin Media set-top boxes this autumn. “We will be launching TiVo at the end of the year and we will have TiVo inside our set-top boxes across all of our customers. We believe TiVo will supply the best user experience, Flash-based, and creating a new gateway to the digital world, so no longer will we think about ‘I’m in a walled garden’ or ‘I’m not in a walled garden’. What you don’t want to do is confuse customers, if they can get it, they should be able to get it. Being able to search for a particular style of programme or being able to search for a particular actor and being presented with your options whether they are linear, video-on-demand or over-the-top will become irrelevant”.
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無聊嚕 said...
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Dan said...

"Across all their boxes". Does he mean that from now on every new Virgin customer will gets TiVo, or that customers will have their existing boxes upgraded to TiVo from August? Or both? I'm hoping both, for no charge -- naturally.

Declan said...

Does anybody know if Tivo will integrate with the bog-standard TV listings (i.e. not OD stuff). We've been waiting quite some time for Virgin to implement a simple search facility on the live EPG, so I'm just wondering if Tivo will deliver this (I hope so!). Also, are the Tivo boxes different hardware again from the new Samsung boxes, or will the Tivo software be installed onto the Samsung and all of us with SA boxes will have them swapped out for Samsung boxes in the Autumn?

Erich said...

There's no way they're investing in new boxes for all their customers. In fact, it's extremely unlikely any existing customers will be getting new boxes.

If this Tivo thing is meant to be anything like the screenshots posted the other day, I can't possibly see how they will be able to roll that out to all customers. Some of the old Pace boxes would simply explode, if you tried to run that kind of software. Perhaps they're planning a low-fi version for the older boxes. As for integration, I'm sure the Tivo software would completely replace the current GUI. Anything else would be completely useless.

Declan said...

That's interesting Erich. I used to work for a company called Chorus in Ireland (they're now part of the UPC group), and on 2 occasions in the 5 years I was there, they retrofitted new STBs into all existing customers. So I had assumed that Virgin would be looking at something similar. Granted, Chorus was only dealing with 120,000 customers or so.

I would have thought that rolling out a Flash-based firmware to existing boxes (presumably over the network) would be (a) technically difficult (b) bloody dangerous (in terms of breaking boxes, losing recordings etc.) and (c) not a good idea. Does the current SA box even support Flash? The Tivo boxes in the news recently were 1TB hard-drives!

Perhaps Virgin are intending on selling the new boxes at launch... as you say, it's hard to see them investing in replacing all the boxes, but if you could buy one for, what - £300, surely a lot of people would jump? Give it 2 years doing that, and then use the proceeds to fund replacing boxes for all the other customers (maybe with a higher monthly subscription for anyone who "rents" rather than "buys" their STB).

Who knows, I guess. But it is hard to reconcile Birkett's "available to all customers" with the current reality and with how Virgin have performed in the past...

Dan said...

@Declan: I noticed a search facility on the EPG from a menu yesterday, that allows you to search for a TV show by "texting" its name on your remote control. It worked quite well, actually.

Maybe that's been around for awhile, but it's the first time I noticed it, and is probably faster than trying to find a show you want to watch by scrolling through their A-Z listing on catch-up.

Declan said...


Thanks for that. Yeah, the Search functionality for catch-up has been there for a while now, and works well. I'm hoping for the ability to search the entire EPG for programmes that I remember hearing about, but have no idea what channel they're on!

Big Red said...

Why in the world would VM/TiVo give boxes away - not even to new customers.

If its true that the New TiVo Premiere or TiVo Premiere Xl are to be used then these sell for $300 & $500 in the US

Is £350 for box worth it - I think i recall the SKY HD boxes been released around £250.

The fact Sky are now throwing these boxes away means VM can get this wrong.

A fair price and it has to be the next best thing - faster, multi functions you name it we need it all if we are going to have to pay a price.

If its true that come Nov then sure I'll buy but VM must have the promissed HD line up.

failing this VM could loose customers to a overpriced product and poor HD content.

Fingers crossed

Dan said...

@Big Red: These new TiVo's sound fantastic, but I won't be buying one if it's anything more than £100. It's not worth getting if it's any more than that, as my existing V+ box isn't even a year old yet and will continue to play the HD content. I don't really use VM's EPG that much, mainly because it doesn't respond as fast as I'd like and can be frustrating. These TiVos sound like a dream to use with lots of fringe benefits, but fundamentally they're not giving me anything NEW in content.

I'm more excited by the possibility of VM getting Sky1HD, really.