September 29, 2010

Sky 1 HD arrives Friday. More to follow

No Sky News or Sky Arts channels in HD yet, but the official press release reads:
Virgin Media today announced the arrival of Sky 1 HD, due to launch on its digital TV service from October 1st, adding yet another great channel to its rapidly growing line-up of quality entertainment channels in crystal clear high definition. Available at no extra cost to all customers on Virgin Media’s incredible value ‘XL’ TV package, the addition of Sky 1 HD brings an even wider range of compelling entertainment in high definition to its customers, with further channels such as BBC 1 HD also due to launch later this year. 
Comedy and sports fans can look forward to the new series of A League of Their Own, the irreverent sports quiz show presented by James Corden, featuring team captains Jamie Redknapp and Freddie Flintoff alongside regular team-mates Georgie Thompson and John Bishop. Another brand new must see is An Idiot Abroad, featuring the escapades of Karl Pilkington as he gets dispatched on a world tour of the Seven Wonders by the mischievous Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Watch his cultural horizons expand as he learns to cope with travelling to awe-inspiring destinations such as the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru , the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
Sky 1 HD drama highlights for October include top U.S. series including the critically acclaimed medical drama House starring Hugh Laurie, and forensic crime series Bones with David Boreanaz. Additionally, sci-fi fans will be spoilt with the new season of Stargate Universe and as the new season of the spectacular Fringe gets underway on Sky 1 HD.
Separately, Virgin Media customers will have another chance to catch up on the first two seasons of Fringe through Virgin Media’s pioneering TV on Demand service from October 11th. Virgin Media also carries several hundred hours of HD content on demand, all available at the touch of a button, with popular series such as Gossip Girl, Dexter and South Park as well as movies, documentaries and its brand new 3D on Demand service.

September 28, 2010

Sky1 HD coming soon info now showing on channel 123

It's up on the wrong channel (Sky 2 moves to 123 tomorrow, making room for Sky 1 HD on 122).

Form an orderly queue please

If you can't wait for 3D any longer, Virgin Media has today announced the launch of 3D Movies On Demand:
From today, all Virgin Media TV customers, with a 3D-ready set top box (V HD or V+ HD required to receive 3D content.), TV and glasses, will be able to experience exciting new 3D On Demand content for themselves, from the comfort of their home. Following successful tests of 3D technology on its fibre optic cable network and after months of public demonstrations in key Virgin Media stores, the company is now starting to offer a selection of 3D movies and TV programmes as part of its on demand TV service.
Today’s launch of 3D Movies On Demand, powered by FilmFlex, will provide a taste of things to come for Virgin Media customers as the company looks to complement its on-demand service with more movies and shows. Virgin Media will look to build its 3D portfolio over the coming months, with a diverse range of new content as more people begin to purchase 3D TVs and programme-makers look to increase the production of 3D content.
Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “We’re really excited to bring a taste of 3D to our customers in the comfort of their own homes. As we’ve already seen with the take-up of high definition programmes, viewers are continually looking for new ways to experience their favourite shows, and with the addition of 3D On Demand, they will be able to watch eye-popping movies whenever they want!”
To mark the launch of Virgin Media’s 3D On Demand service, Brit flick StreetDance 3D will be available from today for just £5.99 (for a 24 hour rental). With further 3D movies to launch over the coming months – including Garfield’s Pet Force 3D (October), Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3D (November), Step Up 3D (December) and Despicable Me 3D (early 2011), plus more titles to be announced soon.
Be still my beating heart...

September 27, 2010

Ecclestone says HD F1 set for 2011

According to Autosport, Bernie Ecclestone says Formula 1 is likely to be broadcast in High Definition as early as next year.
"I think what's being produced at the moment is very, very good but I think we'll be moving to High Definition, probably next year," Ecclestone told the BBC.
With BBC1 HD launching before the end of this year we'll have the channel for it, but the grand prix coverage is all produced by F1 themselves and Ecclestone has promised HD before and not delivered.

September 22, 2010

New US series debuts on Sky1 HD

This autumn's Sky1 line up may lack a little excitement after the conclusions of Lost, 24 and Battlestar Galactica but there are still some new seasons of US series to look forward to on our latest HD channel:
  • House season 7 Sun, Oct 3rd, 10pm
  • NCIS: Los Angeles season 2 Mon, Oct 4th, 9pm
  • Fringe season 3 Tue, Oct 5th, 10pm
  • Stargate Universe season 2 Tue, Oct 5th, 9pm
  • Modern Family season 2, Thu, Oct 7th, 8pm
  • Bones season 6 mid-Oct
  • Caprica season 1 (second half) mid-Oct

September 21, 2010

Sky 1 HD arriving on October 1st confirmed by Virgin Media

Channel 122. And...
-Virgin to move Sky 3 to Channel 180 on the 22nd of September.
-Virgin to move Sky 2 to Channel 123 on the 29th of September.
-Sky1 HD to launch on Virgin Channel 122 on October 1st.
-All Sky Movies and Sky Movies HD Channel to be made free to air for the weekend of the 30th of October.
(Thanks to MediaBoy for the additional info.)

Coming Sooner...

Good news: Blogger's spam filtering seems to be working. Let me know if any slips through but it seems to catch everything now.
Even better news: an announcement on the arrival of Sky 1 HD is anticipated this month. I've heard now from a number of sources that the last week of September is likely to see the Sky basics in HD arrive on Virgin. As always, plans can change but as I've now heard this from three different sources it looks like it's a case of "Coming Sooner" rather than "Coming Later".

September 20, 2010

Sky Sports 1 & 2 HD free for all this Sunday

Those unsure whether £7 a month is good value for the Sky Movies and Sports channels in high def may like to tune in to channels 517 and 518 this Sunday and see what the fuss is about - both the SD and HD versions of Sky Sports 1 and 2 are free to all VM customers on the 26th. The two main highlights are Wolves vs Aston Villa and Newcastle vs Stoke on SS1 with some Spanish footie in the evening and golf on SS2. Not the sporting highlights of the season to be truthful, but a taster ne'ertheless.
Incidentally, Sky's NFL coverage last night had some of the sharpest HD pictures I've seen to date, far more detail than Sky's own Premiership coverage.

September 17, 2010

Sky delays Boardwalk Empire until 2011

Sky's exclusive deal for new HBO series doesn't seem to guarantee near-US-scheduled premieres for major new series.  The eagerly-anticipated Scorsese gangster drama Boardwalk Empire debuts in the US this weekend but so far Sky has only promised that it will be broadcast in the UK "in 2011". Full report in The Independent.
I expect Sky to premiere these HBO series on Sky Premiere rather than on Sky One, using these big original dramas to boost the movie channel subs much like they did with The Pacific (and HBO do in the US - HBO is first and foremost a movie channel). Which is good news for those with the Sky HD bundle, even if the wait looks like it could be far longer than many anticipated.

September 16, 2010

BSkyB closing Bravo and Channel One

BSkyB is closing two of the SD channels it recently bought from VirginMedia TV: Bravo and Channel 1 (formerly known as Virgin 1). Also going will be the associated +1s and Bravo 2. US imports showing on those channels are most likely to reappear on other Sky channels.
In the announcement BSkyB said that it has decided to focus on the Living TV channel portfolio, which will see a 25% boost to its programming budget, and the gameshow and quiz channel Challenge.
Still no official word on the arrival of the high def Sky basics but at least now there's channel 120 free on the Virgin EPG to slot Sky1 HD into.

September 14, 2010

TiVo in major deal with Samsung

From: Zacks Investment Research|
A leading provider of advanced television services and personal video recorders (PVRs), TiVo Inc. announced a partnership with the premier provider of home solution and telecommunication technologies Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Under the collaboration, the companies will jointly build an advanced, TiVo-ready, high definition PVR set-top box for digital video broadcasting (DVB) operators. The new PVR set top box will hit the market in 2011. Financial details on the deal were not divulged.
The advanced high definition (HD) PVR will be initially available to European DVB networks and later on will be added to non-PVR devices and additional platforms worldwide.
Samsung has licensed TiVo’s Hardware Porting Kit and the new set top box will allow operators to provide a cost effective and advanced television solution. As per the deal, Samsung’s next generation set-top box will incorporate the company’s linear television, video on demand and broadband content facilities in intuitive user interface. This will enable operators to deploy PVR set-top boxes along with TiVo’s enhanced consumer experience.
TiVo also partnered with Virgin Media, Inc. to develop interactive programmes for building middleware and interface Virgin Media’s next-generation high-definition set-top boxes in the U.K. Virgin Media will embed the TiVo DVR service into its set-top boxes and will roll out in early 2011.

September 11, 2010

Sky Movies HD - believe in MUCH better...

For me, much as I love my footie in HD now, Sky's movie channels and Film4 were always going to be the most frequently watched  of the new high def channels this year. I watch two or three movies a week, and the difference between the Sky SD and HD movies channels is amazing. It may not quite be Blu Ray but it's still tremendous, better than my upscaling DVD player and sooooo much better than the SD variants.
Last night I watched the nineties sci fi satire Starship Troopers and the PQ was incredible, especially towards the end of the film where the SD broadcasts struggle with the explosions and alien hoards. Brilliant brilliant brilliant.
Other movies I'd recommend currently showing are the Back To The Future trilogy, the Alien films, any of the Coen brothers or Tarantino movies (Kill Bill vols 1 and 2 are particularly stunning), Terminators 1 and 2 (the first just to see how fake some of the effects in the first one now look) and all four of the Indiana Jones films. Does anyone else have movies that they've now watched in HD and would recommend for sheer PQ alone?
Unfortunately, the measley disc in my V+ means I can only store a handful of HD movies at any one time, but you all know that...

September 10, 2010

Monday Night "Football" arrives on ESPN HD

We may not have ESPN America in HD on Virgin yet, but fans of the game erroneously called "football" by an entire nation will be treated to the longest-running and most successful primetime sports show in the world on ESPN HD from Monday, September 13th.
Each week ESPN will broadcast live the major Monday night clashes in the National Football League (NFL), starting with the New York Jets vs the Baltimore Ravens (at midnight), followed by the Kansas City Chiefs vs the San Diego Chargers (3am ).
To get the show on the road, ESPN will air an extended version of Monday Night Countdown from 10pm.
Previous to that, the Monday night "soccer" game on Sky Sports 1 HD is Stoke vs Villa, but I guess most eyes will be on Sky Sports 1 HD on Saturday lunchtime for Rooney and the Man U curb crawlers at Everton. Tasty.

September 02, 2010

Living HD finally launches on Sky

Now they have 50: Living HD launches today on Sky. This was part of the agreement in Sky's £160m deal for the Living TV Group (formerly known as Virgin Media TV), and VM gets the Sky HD basics (Sky1, Sky Arts 1 & 2 and Sky News) also.
So can we have them now please? Stay tuned...

September 01, 2010

Comedy Central HD live

Good news: we have Comedy Central HD now on channel 133.
As you would expect, the older shows are only in SD (and many of them are in 4:3 ration too) but today's schedule has episodes of Two and a Half Men, Samantha Who?, The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond in high def. Tomorrow evening's South Parks are in HD (season 12 onwards) but a few movies at the weekend appear to be only in standard def.