May 29, 2010

Do you want a V+ with greater capacity?

Time for a quick poll. Sky customers get an option of buying a Sky+ HD box with up to 2Tb (2,048Gb), but us Virgin Customers just get a measley 160Gb in our V+, which equates to just 20 hours of HD recordings. What's more, we can't (legally) install a bigger hard disc as the box belongs to Virgin.
So would you be willing to pay for greater capacity on your V+? A poll has been posted top right on this blog - let me know what you think.

May 28, 2010

STV HD launches on June 11 (Scotland only)

Thanks to Media Boy for the news.

Avatar and Alice in HD

Two new arrivals on FilmFlex HD in the first week of June:
Alice in Wonderland from 4th June, and Avatar from 7th June
Interesting how short the window between DVD/Blu Ray and Filmflex releases is becoming, with Sherlock Holmes (unfortunately not HD) and Alice appearing simultaneously on disc and on demand.

BBC1 HD launching in the autumn

The BBC has confirmed plans to launch a high definition version of BBC One in the autumn.
BBC One HD will offer a HD simulcast of the regular channel and will be available on Freesat, Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media. The channel will operate in addition to the BBC HD channel, which will also extend its regular broadcast hours over the summer from nine to 12 hours a day.
More details in Danielle Nagler's latest blog entry.

May 26, 2010

News on Sky HD channels coming to Virgin Media

From MediaGuardian:
"BSkyB is understood to be nearing the conclusion of lengthy negotiations to buy Virgin Media Television's successful channels business...the deal could be finalised as early as next week [...]
"As part of the complex deal to sell Virgin Media TV to Sky, the cable operator is expected to cement a long-term carriage deal. This will ensure it has continued access both to the VMTV channels such as Living, once sold off, but also to BSkyB's premium sports and movie channels and high-definition services. Virgin1 is expected to disappear."

May 25, 2010

Updated: NGTV rollout complete

Pretty much everyone now has Next Gen TV. The three remaining headends (Belfast, Londonderry and Haringey) serve a fair amount of North London (Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Islington, Dalston and Haringey) and the two big Northern Ireland regions, but it's pretty much all done. On schedule if not a little ahead of the original timetable, so well done VM - now for more high def channels, starting with STV (in time for the World Cup) and Film4.
UPDATE: All competed this week.

May 23, 2010

New HD channel in August: ESPN America HD?

According to a post on Cable Forum, ESPN America HD will be arriving on Virgin Media on August 3rd:
"The ESPN America HD channel will be available to all the our customers from 3 August 2010. It's free of charge for the customers who are on TV size XL"

May 22, 2010

RIP Gene Hunt

He has been one of the great TV characters of the age, and last night we learned the truth about Gene Hunt in the final episode of Ashes to Ashes. Whilst the finale of Lost will get all the hype, this was an absolute stunner of a conclusion to five series of time travelling fantasy of the highest order. And in HD, too. Anyone confused by what I thought the most breathtaking twist I've ever seen on TV should check out this interview with series co-creator Matthew Graham on the Guardian website. Me? I'm going to sit down and watch the whole of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes all over again.

May 21, 2010

TiVo = "Intelligent TV"

This thread over on Cable Forum looks like it will be worth keeping an eye on, as it has been started by someone on the "Intelligent TV" trial, aka TiVo.

May 20, 2010

Lost Finale: Monday at 5am on Sky1

Couldn't stand the idea of waiting until Friday 28th to see the very last episode of Lost when the Americans were seeing it five days earlier? Well Sky1 is showing the last two and a half hour double episode as a simulcast with the US West Coast, kicking off at 5am on Monday morning. Details at MediaGuardian.
Chances are the Virgin Media V+ programme guide won't catch this change, so you'll need to set it as a Manual Recording [update: my mistake - the EPG now has the finale listed for Monday at 5am]. Or get up very early. Or wait for the repeat later on Sky1.
Or put the whole experience down as a bad dream and save yourself the inevitable disappointment of the myriad of unanswered questions that we're going to be left with...

Sky Sports HD on Virgin Media in July?

I've heard from a VM insider that they intend to launch Sky Sports HD channels on cable in July in time for the new Premiership season. He didn't know how they would be sold nor if other current Sky HD exclusives would be part of  the deal (Sky movies, Sky1 HD, etc).
Post-OFCOM they have to be made available - I guess it now is down to what the two companies determine as a "reasonable" price.

May 19, 2010

Virgin HD site

Virgin has a new site promoting its high definition services: Nothing really new, but if you check the small print on the HD channels section you'll see confirmation that Film4 HD is coming in July 2010

May 17, 2010

Berkett discusses TiVo plans

Speaking at the NCTA Cable Show 2010 in Los Angeles Virgin Media Chief Exec Neil Berkett has talked a little more about Virgin's plans with TiVo:
“We are wholesaling TiVo inside our media box and we are the first operator to do so. It is the best product on the market, it is available and proven. It is the basis for product we deliver before Christmas and will give us first mover advantage in TV 2.0. After taking broadband further with DOCSIS 3.0 and being the first with catch-up TV. We are not just a platform, we are the core for multi-screen entertainment.
“This is the way to get real traction into the market. Our TiVo world plus HD is a superior product.”
Source: BroadbandTVNews

May 16, 2010

FA Cup Final picture quality

I didn't see the game live on ITV1 HD as I was at Wembley enjoying it for real, but I saw the highlights later in the evening and thought the picture looked nothing special. I then checked the Info box and it said "upscaled HD". Did ITV not cover the game in high definition? I can understand the camera that zooms down almost to pitch level being a standard def camera (actually looked quite small from where I was sitting) but surely they shot the game and studio with HD cameras? What did others think?

May 14, 2010

US import HD series status (updated)

The major US networks are renewing and cancelling with gay abandon. As the majority of our high def entertainment, here are some of the HD series we get and their destiny for the 2010/11 season:

C4 / E4 HD
Brothers & Sisters: Renewed. 
Desperate Housewives: Renewed
Scrubs: Officially cancelled.
Ugly Betty: Already cancelled.
The Big Bang Theory: Already renewed.
The Good Wife: Already renewed.
Glee: Already renewed.
Smallville: Officially renewed.

Cougar Town: Already renewed.
NCIS: Renewed
American Dad: Already renewed.

Living HD
Grey’s Anatomy: Officially renewed
Criminal Minds: Renewed
CSI: Renewed
CSI: Miami: Renewed
CSI: NY: Probably renewed
Ghost Whisperer: Cancelled

Syfy HD
V: Officially renewed.
Dollhouse: Already cancelled.

Heroes: Cancelled
And a couple of popular (but not popular enough) SD series on their way out
FlashForward: Officially cancelled.
 24: Cancelled

More info and updates on

May 13, 2010

Just a few remaining headends to move to NGTV now

Virgin appears to be on target to meet its June deadline with the Next Gen TV upgrades with just a handful to go:
Andover, Coventry, Haringey, Stafford, Swindon and Warwick in England, and Londonderry and Belfast in Northern Ireland.
MediaBoy has more details at

May 12, 2010

Coronation Street in high def this month on ITV1 HD

ITV has confirmed that the mainstay of its evening schedules, Coronation Street, will be broadcast in high def from May 31st. Fifty years' old this year, they couldn't have timed it better. C4 HD's Hollyoaks has been in HD for some time, but still no word on the BBC giving similar treatment to Eastenders.

May 11, 2010

Digital Spy redesign

I'm a day late, but just had a quick look at the Digital Spy redesign as it moves further towards the entertainment mass market. If, like me, you couldn't find some of the more familar pages relating to cable TV news and forums, the news can be found at and the Cable Forum is now at I've found the forum of late to be pretty light - I think Cable Forum has now become the preferred site for those interested specifically in Virgin Media activities.

May 07, 2010

Movies in HD this weekend

A few worth watching:
ITV1 HD, Saturday
3:15pm The Mummy
10:20pm Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
12:20pm Tremors

4HD, Saturday:
9:00pm Transporter 2
10:40pm Alien: Resurrection
10:00pm Hitman

May 06, 2010

Election in HD tonight

BBC HD from 9.55 tonight, all the excitement and glamour of Election Night in glorious HD (except for the bits that inevitably will be upscaled SD)

May 04, 2010

Off Topic: Ads removed from this blog

After a two month experiment with Google AdSense, I've removed the ads from this blog again. Although it did earn a few quid I've decided that they don't really benefit visitors and clutter up the landing page.

Virgin increases Marketing budget to promote HD services

Good news: Virgin is to boost its marketing spend by 30% this year, to focus on advertising HD TV services and high-speed broadband. Why's this good news? Well, they must be planning to add further services to be able to justify this. Mind you, Virgin Media's annual marketing budget (c£170m) is still dwarfed by Sky's annual £1 billion on advertising.
source: MediaGuardian

May 03, 2010

HD channel listings now on this blog

I've found regularly updated listings now for all of Virgin's HD channels. If you check the panel top right of this blog, each channel has a link to that day's schedule. What's more, The Guardian/PA's listings include details of what is actually HD, useful on some of those channels which mix upscaled SD and HD. Hope this is of benefit.

Discovery HD listings

For those who now have Discovery HD, you've probably noticed it is not a simulcast of the standard def channel but something of a high definition showcase. None of the listings mags I've seen carry the programme schedules for the HD version, so here's a useful page to bookmark with daily listings: Discovery HD. And, for those of us without Discovery HD just yet, here are the daily listings for National Geographic HD (which also vary from the SD channel).