April 01, 2010

New HD channels launch on Virgin Media today

For those now on the "Next Generation TV" platform that Virgin Media is rolling out across the country today's is a red letter day, with the arrival of three new HD channels on cable; E4 HD, Sci Fi HD, Discovery HD and Eurosport HD are here. The rest of us will have to wait a little longer as the platform upgrade continues through to June, but our appetites will be sated somewhat by tomorrow's launch of ITV1 HD for all V+ customers in England and Wales (still no word on the other ITV regions).
These are the headends still to be upgraded - it's fewer than half of the total amount and they appear to be completing around five a week.
Andover (includes Salisbury and north-west Southampton)
Belfast
Bristol (includes Gloucester, Cheltenham, Bath)
Cambridge (includes Newmarket, St Ives)
Cardiff (includes Newport)
Colchester (includes Ipswich)
Coventry
Derry
Guildford (includes Woking, Aldershot, Farnborough)
Haringey (North London)
Lewisham (central London, includes Acton, Harrow)
Lichfield (includes Stafford, Tamworth)
Newton Abbott (includes Plymouth, Exeter)
Northampton
Norwich (include Gt Yarmouth)
Oxford
Peterborough
Preston (includes Liverpool, St Helens, Wigan, Blackpool)
Reading (includes Basingstoke, Bracknell, High Wycombe)
Swansea
Swindon
Warwick (includes Nuneaton, Rugby)

I'm in an area yet to have the upgrade (due mid-May apparently), so how is it looking for those of you who have got the new channels today?

31 comments:

Glenn said...

Great

I love the news channels

cant wait to watch tennis tonight on

(EUROSPORT HD) Tonight

joff81 said...

to be honest ive looked at the program listings for all the HD channels and apart from Discovery HD which all the programs are HD there is nothing much HD on at all.

ITV HD the first program thats in HD is King Kong on friday night thats all daytime without HD content on a new HD channel.
Eurosport HD has no HD content till friday at 10:30pm with freeride spirit and then its only a 30 minute highlight program. the only live sports event in HD on Eurospot HD is the curling on saturday night sand even then thats it for a week.

as for Sci fi HD and E4HD ive not seen anyhing of any on there that is worth watching in HD. oh well looks like we will have to wait till the next round of HD channels to get any meaningful HD content.

Martin said...

HD Ugly Betty on E4..... still pristinely ugly.

Stadium MotoX on Eurosport HD is meaningless to me, no idea who they are, but it's compelling to watch in good quality HD.

Discovery showed me HD bolts being fitted into the frame of the largest Stadium Plasma screen ever built. Decent quality.

SciFi showed telesales, a very questionable advert for a self vibrating dumbell for women which they held vertically pointing towards the face. All Hollywood smiles, but even my 12 yr old thought it looked rude. And it wasn't HD. Programming starts later.

I have a "change channel" reminder set for GMTV at 6am tomorrow, but you know that ain't gonna be more than upscaled HD. In fact, the only things until Sunday night will be films. ITV listings don't make it clear what is actually HD.

LewishamLovely said...

mid may for lewisham??
*insert sad face here*

Jordan Alexander Hartley said...

@joff81

Where are you getting them listing detailing which programs are in HD and which are not.

I watched a little bit of the snooker on EuroSport this morning and that looked very sharp as if it was HD, i didntdeem it nessisary to make a close up inspection or anything, but nothing made out it wasnt.


Happy so far with them all. Obviously, ITV, C4 and E4 will probably have the least HD content of all of them, but if they dont have it then they cant show it can they, luckily they are amongst my least viewed channels anyways, but will very much welcome ITV Sport in HD if that is something they can provide.

12 HD Channels, and the same price, so whatever the outcome, cant complain really.

Nialli said...

@LewishamLovely - yes, mid-May for Lewisham I'm told. I understand that the schedule's subject to change but I wouldn't get your hopes up.

LewishamLovely said...

but it's london! we should get things first! are there even other places in the UK?*

*joking obviously.

Afront said...

Sorry to whine on about this, but I'd appreciate it if you could you change:

ITV1 HD for all V+ customers

to:

ITV1 HD for all V+ customers in England and Wales

Nialli said...

Here in Greenwich we were the last to get Video on Demand and broadband from NTL, so London has always been the poor cousin.
Personally, I will happily put up with a short wait for these channels if it means we won't have similar delays in the future.

ITV 1 HD may look like it's off to a weak start but the programming next week looks better (two Harry Potter films in HD for the Easter school hols no less, and the Man U game on Wednesday night) - I will post on it shortly if I have the time.

Is that all there is? said...

I'm a bit miffed that Virgin Media (NTL as was...) haven't put their head office (Fleet is where I live) local customers on the new system earlier.

I've been a VM customer since the Cabletel days it would be nice to see some reward now and then for loyalty... :(

I suppose we'll be the last to get the new channels, because we're probably on the oldest infrastructure...

BikeNutt said...

For those asking "How do I know if it's HD?" if you bring up the info pane it will show [HD] after the description text.

But your eyes should be the real judge ;)

From the brief look I had early this morning, Discovery HD looks to be the best of the bunch and it looks as though even the ads are HD - that's a first on VM.

Square eyes said...

Don't forget guys this is how it has been with Sky for years, not everything shown on a HD channel is HD.

It works out to be about 30% shown in HD

But this is what Sky charge £10 for...

Mark said...

when will oxford be done?

Jordan Alexander Hartley said...

@BikeNutt
Thanks for the tip bud, but not all channels seem to use this convention.

ESPN, and National Geographic dont mark up any of their content like that, and we know all of NGHD should be HD and the currently showing NBA game on ESPN is clearly HD too yet no markup in the info screen.

Does look like ITV1HD is using it though, Ive looked on the TV Guid and found Harry Potter 3 on saturday is marked up as HD which is nice.

Jordan Alexander Hartley said...

@Mark

hi mark, no scheduale has been made public about which area are being done when.

You may want to keep an eye on this forum post dedicated to the switch over on cableforum.co.uk

http://www.cableforum.co.uk/board/101/33662048-ngtv-news.html

Mark said...

without looking at that site, ho do you knoe if you have been moved?

Infact.. how do ppl on cable forum know ?

Jordan Alexander Hartley said...

I havent looked into it in too much detail as i know im on the new NGTV (due to the fact that i have the HD channels), but i believe before the inclusion of the hd channels the way to tell was with some channel number differences with the local bbc radio stations.

But now of course you know if your on or not with the inclusion of the new HD channels.

joff81 said...

@Jordan Alexander Hartley

have a look at the information on the program if it has (HD) in the informaiton then its true HD. if not then its an upscaled broadcast.
now you know go and have a look at how much content it truly HD very little i saw apart from discovey HD. i must admit though Discovery HD does look awesome !!!

Erich said...

Jordan Alexander Hartley says
I watched a little bit of the snooker on EuroSport this morning and that looked very sharp as if it was HD

... but it wasn't.

Neither is the tennis from Key Biscaine, which is hugely disappointing.

Bikenutt sayz:
But your eyes should be the real judge ;)

Most people can't trust their eyes, when it comes to spotting HD. :)

It would be nice if all channels adopted the C4 and ESPN policy of only adding the HD part of their logo, when the content is really HD.

Square eyes sayz:
It works out to be about 30% shown in HD

It varies greatly from channel to channel. MTVHD is probably more like 4-5%, and there doesn't appear to be any real HD on Eurosport's schedule today, unless they surprise us with HD coverage of the live tennis at least.

But this is what Sky charge £10 for...
Actually, Sky charge £10 for about 3 times as many HD channels, and let's not forget VM's little £1.50 price hike for the XL package, which you have to have to get the "free HD" of some of the channels that are otherwise available in the M package.

From the brief look I had early this morning, Discovery HD looks to be the best of the bunch and it looks as though even the ads are HD - that's a first on VM.
Only the promos for their own shows are HD. Regular ads are not.

Jordan Alexander Hartley said...

@Erich

Yeh the tennis is definatley not HD, i even get some hroid flickering on the horizontal lines.

I didnt expect the snooker to be HD, but like i said, it was much better than the SD channel, i guess the fixed camera and slow movement help the image alot.

@joff81
Like i said before, not all channels put the [HD] indicators in the descriptions. It looks to me as if they are down the the individual broadcasters to input rather than an automated system.

Erich said...

I didnt expect the snooker to be HD, but like i said, it was much better than the SD channel
The snooker did actually look very good, but it was very obvious from the text on the screen that it wasn't HD.

One of my friends who has Sky claims that the live tennis was definitely HD last night, and the upscaled repeat that's on right now actually has 5.1 audio, which usually comes from the HD feed, so fingers crossed for the live broadcast later. Just a shame it's not Ivanovic or Kirilenko instead of Venus and Bartoli. :)

Square eyes said...

Erich - the £1.50 charge would have happened even if the HD channels had not been put on. So stop saying thats why the price went up.

Don't forget Phone went up 99p & BBI 50p - Annual price increase...

Erich said...

Erich - the £1.50 charge would have happened even if the HD channels had not been put on. So stop saying thats why the price went up.
I said no such thing. I merely pointed out that the price of the must-have XL package has gone up, and that the "free HD" claim is a bit misleading, when you consider that you don't get the HD versions of some of the channels if you're on the M pack. So it's free, as long as you're happy to pay a premium, which is now going to be £1.50 more expensive than it used to be.

tvsersity said...

Wish I could check these out but as I live in one of the areas deemed not worthy of HD I guess I'll just watch a blu-ray instead.

What a bungled launch and what an appalling way to treat your customers.

Hopefully my area will be upgraded before the end of the summer, or at least the end of the year. With Virgin Media at the controls though, nothing would surprise me.

Square eyes said...

Erich, the 30% is an avg of all the channels - not each channel

and "Actually, Sky charge £10 for about 3 times as many HD channels, and let's not forget VM's little £1.50 price hike for the XL package" seems to me thats what you said...

if you look bck over the last few years the cost has increased each year.

Erich said...

Erich, the 30% is an avg of all the channels - not each channel
Sure, I was just clarifying, since most people aren't great at spotting what's really HD. I nearly slapped one of my friends down the phone today when he called me raving about the "stunning quality" of the tennis on Eurosport HD, which was some of the nastiest upscaled crap I've ever seen.

For anyone keeping score at home, that's 0% HD on Eurosport HD(?) today. There'll be 15 minutes worth of real HD "Extreme Sports" tomorrow at 23:00. Blink and you'll miss it.

You'd think that a launch on the countries biggest cable network would be a big enough deal for them to broadcast some actual HD.

and "Actually, Sky charge £10 for about 3 times as many HD channels, and let's not forget VM's little £1.50 price hike for the XL package" seems to me thats what you said...
I said the must-have XL package will be £1.50 more expensive. Nothing more, nothing less. In VM's defence, they're at least now being honest in their promotion and clearly pointing out that the "free HD" is only free with the XL pack. But as I said, it's still kind of a cheat, as you'll already be getting the SD versions of some of the channels in the M package, so you are for all intents and purposes forced to pay more if you want them in HD.

Still, it's very exciting to have some more HD channels, and E4 is actually showing a lot more HD than I expected.

Square eyes said...

Just to get one thing correct, the HD content with VM starts in the M+TV package which is £5.50

Erich said...

But M+ has SD versions of Living, Eurosport, E4, and a few other channels, where you have to buy XL to get the HD versions "for free", right?

Tom Chiverton said...

All well and good, but when is my V+ box (that knows it's sending 1080p over HDMI) going to automatically drop the SD version of channel from the EPG when it knows the HD variant is running ?
Or will Virgin at least rearrange the EPG so the HD channel is right next to the SD one ?

Jordan Alexander Hartley said...

@Tom Chiverton
Yeh would be nice for an option to hide the SD version of simucast channels.

Even though its only a couple at the moment, the EPG is slow to use as it is, taking a few unesisary entries out can only help the situation.

Vesper Bell said...

Anyone know where Bristol stands in the pecking order?