October 28, 2010

18 free HD movies this weekend

A reminder: Virgin Media customers can watch 18 movies from Saturday 30th October 6am until Monday 1st November 6am on Sky Movies Showcase Channel 403 and Sky Movies Showcase HD channel 433. You don't need to pre-register, nor be a Sky Movies subscriber.
Here are the movies showing:
Saturday 30th October
6.15am  You're So Cupid
8am  Rugrats In Paris: The Movie
10am  Cats & Dogs
12pm  Race To Witch Mountain
1.45pm  Alex Zane's Guest List: Simon Pegg
2.15pm  Paul Blart: Mall Cop
4pm  Cats &Dogs
6pm  Confessions Of A Shopaholic
8pm  Fast & Furious
10pm  Paul Blart: Mall Cop
11.45pm  Transporter 3

Sunday 31st October
2.05am  Fast & Furious
4.05am  You're So Cupid
6.10am  Coraline
8am  Bedtime Stories
10am  Confessions Of A Shopaholic
12pm  Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 3, Episode 1
12.30pm  Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season 3, Episode 2
1.20pm  Bolt  *Special showing courtesy of Disney Cinemagic*
3pm  A Bug's Life  *Special showing courtesy of Disney Cinemagic*
4.40pm  Brother Bear  *Special showing courtesy of Disney Cinemagic*
6.15pm Coraline
8pm  Bedtime Stories
9.45pm  Seven Pounds

Monday 1st November
12am Righteous Kill
1.45am Forrest Gump
4.15am Stone Of Destiny

Syfy cancels Caprica

The US Syfy network has announced that the low-rated Battlestar Galactica prequel has been cancelled. Hopefully Sky 1 HD will carry the remaining episodes of season one before too long. Or maybe it will air them on Sky Atlantic?

October 27, 2010

Added to the VMHD blog

I've added two new features to this blog:
VMHD Most Popular Posts 
These are the five most-read posts on the blog. Most visitors just hit the home page, but where people have gone to specific posts these are the most popular in the three years the blog has been running. Interesting that several of them report things that were rumoured by reliable sources but have yet to happen (ITV2, 1Tb V+, Sky News in HD).
What Nialli is watching on his V+
The HD series I'm recording as Series Links at the moment.Interesting that the only two series not available in HD are Spooks and Match of the Day. Some series I don't record in HD as I will take a while to getting round to them AND THERE JUST AINT ENOUGH SPACE ON THE DISC!!!

BBC One HD on channel 108, BBC HD now on 187

Information page on ch.108

Great BBC advertisement for Virgin Media 50Mb broadband

Heard this on Radio 5Live this morning. Mr Berkett (for that is he commenting in the background) must be well-chuffed - great advertising on the BBC.
It was part of the news story on Virgin's launch of 100mb home broadband btw.

Sky Atlantic

Just got an email from Cindy Rose, Virgin Media's Executive Director of Digital Entertainment, on Sky Atlantic. She says

Regarding Sky Atlantic, we are in discussions with Sky regarding this channel now.  We know little more about the channel and its programming than we have read in the press.  It is entirely up to Sky as to whether they make the channel available to us and at what price.  As always, we will do our very best to continue to offer our customers the best entertainment content available, but as I'm sure you'll appreciate, there are no guarantees.  As soon as we have something to announce, rest assured we will.
I'm still confident that we'll get Sky Atlantic at launch and that Digital Spy have got things wrong in their report on Sky's EPG announcement earlier this week.
One would have hoped that there would have been something in the carriage deal agreed with Sky for the Sky Basics and the VMTV stable that would ensure that VM customers got new or additional channels if others were closed. For the record, since the deals we've lost Sky Real Lives, Sky Real Lives 2 (and the promised HD versions of both), Virgin (now Channel) One, +1, Bravo, +1 and Bravo 2. That's seven SD channels down and two HD that we were expecting, and the only new one announced, Sky Atlantic, we may not be getting. In fact, who's to say that when Living becomes Sky Living we don't lose that one too? And Sky Living +1 and Sky Living 2? And if Sky 1 becomes "Sky One" again?
Alarmist I know, but I just thought I'd throw it out there - as I say, I'm confident Cindy and the VM team won't let us down.

Virgin Media Q3 2010 results

From the press release:
Revenue growth in all segments drives strong financial performance

  • Total revenue up 6.4% to £978m
    • Revenue growth in all areas, including strong growth in both Mobile and Business
  • Fourth successive quarter of double-digit percentage OCF2 growth, up 11.0% to £387m
  • Operating income doubled to £102m from £51m
  • Free cash flow3 up 8.6% to £119m; last 12 months FCF up 18.2% versus previous 12 months
Operational performance driven by continued ARPU and customerincreases

  • Cable ARPU up 3.7% to a record £46.38
  • Cable customers up 1.9% with 14,100 net new cable customers in Q3, up from 8,100 a year ago
    • Cable gross additions of 236,000 up 10.4%
  • Triple-play penetration increased to 62.7% and quad-play penetration increased to 11.5%, reflecting focus on bundling
  • Pre-registration for UK's fastest widely available broadband opens today; 100Mb broadband service further extends Virgin Media's speed advantage
Continued improvement of Company's capital structure

  • Accelerated Stock Buyback programme of £125m completed; Board authority remains for £250m of further buybacks
  • Effective increase of Convertible strike price from $19.22 to $35
    • Execution of conversion hedges against 90% of convertible notes
    • Would reduce future dilution by 21m shares, assuming $35 stock price in 2016
    • Existing convertible noteholders unaffected
Neil Berkett, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said: "Our continued focus on exploiting our strategic advantages with the resulting multiple opportunities for revenue growth, as well as robust financial discipline has delivered another strong financial performance this quarter. We are extending our lead in broadband even further with the imminent availability of 100Mb as consumer demand for consistently faster broadband grows."
Strengthening "Digital Entertainment"
We grew our TV base by 14,800 in the quarter to 3.77m customers. These viewers continue to enjoy our market-leading video-on-demand (VOD) service with well over half of them using and watching VOD as part of their everyday lives.
We have continued to aggressively expand our High Definition (HD) offering. Just over a year ago, we carried one HD channel, but we have increased this to 28 currently, including Sky Sports HD and Sky Movies HD. Basic HD channels are available to customers for no additional monthly fee and, as a result, our HD base is growing rapidly. We added 222,100 HD customers in the quarter to reach an installed base of 1.4m and HD penetration of 38%. During the quarter, we also added over 100,000 Sky premium subscribers to reach a total of 725,000 which included 52,000 customers who have subscribed to Sky Sports HD and/or Sky Movies HD since launch in August.
In September we launched the UK's first 3D VOD TV service to be commercially available to millions of homes. We have an exclusive partnership in the UK with Samsung Electronics to explore and develop opportunities in the 3D marketplace; including expanding the number of our retail stores where 3D is showcased.
Work continues with TiVo to develop and launch our next generation TV service, which is on track to be installed in the first homes in the fourth quarter.

October 25, 2010

Sky Atlantic and on demand

It looks increasingly like Virgin Media will carry the new Sky Atlantic HBO/AMC imports channel. Why do I think this? Well if it was going to be a satellite exclusive they'd be shouting about it big time, yet the investors statement made this morning simply says:
Sky Atlantic – From early 2011, the brand new channel will provide an exclusive home to some of the most eagerly anticipated shows intelevision, including all of HBO's new series such as the already critically acclaimed Boardwalk Empire and the forthcoming Game of Thrones,  Luck and Tremé. Sky Atlantic will also be the exclusive home of Mad Men from 2011.  
Plenty of use of the word "exclusive", but nothing about it being exclusive to Sky customers. Fingers' crossed.
Also announced last week was the launch of Sky's internet-based Anytime+ video on demand service, which is likely to be good news for those of us waiting for Sky One programmes to start appearing on Virgin Media On Demand as promised. Whilst Sky were never going to let VM have this as a service before Sky got its on demand act together, presumably now they're launching the Sky service we're finally going to see the likes of Fringe and Modern Family on demand now too.

Virgin adds more HD On Demand

From the Virgin Press Release: "Virgin Media today announced a deal with NBC Universal International Television Distribution for the video-on-demand rights in the UK to a broad selection of NBC Universal series. Under the terms of the agreement, these titles will be offered as new content across Virgin Media’s three entertainment platforms; TV, online and mobile. From December 1st Virgin Media customers will be able to access past seasons of shows such as House, Heroes, The Office (U.S.) and 30 Rock, whether in HD at home through its TV On Demand service or via its online and mobile ‘Virgin Media Player’ services."
I'm surprised that the announcement makes no mention of us getting the Universal HD channel (previously known as "Hallmark") - maybe that will follow?

October 21, 2010

BBC One HD launches November 3rd

Here's the BBC press release

The BBC today announces that BBC One HD will launch at 7pm on Wednesday 3 November across all HD platforms: Freesat channel 108, Freeview channel 50, Sky channel 143 and Virgin Media channel 108.

The new high definition (HD) channel kicks off with a series of programmes made in true HD: The One Show, followed by Wallace And Gromit's World Of Invention, the new series from award-winning Aardman Animations, as well as some food for thought with Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers and Jimmy's Food Factory.

The Apprentice and Film 2010 will also show in HD that evening.

It is also announced today that the BBC's award-winning continuing drama EastEnders will broadcast in HD for the first time on Christmas Day, allowing viewers to catch all the drama in Albert Square in even more vivid detail.

EastEnders follows Holby City, which made the move to HD on 18 October. It will be shown on the BBC's existing HD channel, until BBC One HD launches in November.

The new HD channel will simulcast a network version of the BBC One schedule, with the majority of peaktime programmes in HD, including The Apprentice, Strictly Come Dancing, Children In Need, Antiques Roadshow, Countryfile, The Graham Norton Show and The Royal Variety Show.

October 14, 2010

Spotify coming to Virgin Media?

Not sure exactly how this is going to manifest itself, but according to the Telegraph:
A source close to Spotify revealed: “Spotify and Virgin Media are close to concluding a partnership deal. The finer details are not yet known, but Spotify will be offering new tools and content exclusively to Virgin customers as part of the arrangement."
A Virgin Media spokesperson declined to comment on any of its deal negotiations, or shed any more light on when its own music service would launch, but said: “Virgin Media is forging new ground in music and whilst we are currently in talks with numerous parties, we want to ensure that any service provides a truly compelling offering for both consumers and industry."

BBC One HD testing on Virgin Media

BBC One HD is testing in some areas on Virgin Media. Channel scheduled to launch in around a month. BBC HD will subsequently screen programming from BBC 2, 3, 4, CBeebies and CBBC. May include some BBC News programmes too.
Incidentally, Virgin Media's Q3 results are at the end of the month: expect announcements of service improvements over the next couple of weeks as a precursor. ITV 2, 3 and 4 HD? TiVo? A 1Tb V+ ? Sky Atlantic carriage? Sky Arts HD? Sky News HD? 100mb home broadband? Anyone's guess.

October 12, 2010

The 1Tb V+: maybe December?

I haven't been able to confirm the availability of the 1Tb V+ with anyone at Virgin - BenMcr over on Cable Forum says that it's not launching until December, which would appear to be borne out by this news item from What Satellite
Virgin’s TiVo-powered PVR will have three HD tuners, terabyte storage and could host iPhone-style apps.
The successor to Virgin’s V+ PVR is scheduled to launch by the end of 2010, and will use the much-lauded TiVo operating system to combine broadcast, on-demand and internet TV services.
It will have its own broadband modem, drawing bandwidth from Virgin’s cable network independent of customer broadband connections, and able to deliver three HD channels at once.
Virgin said user-available storage will be ‘on parity’ with other high end PVRs like the 1TB Sky+HD, in addition to hundreds of hours of HD on-demand, including BBC iPlayer’s hi-def stream.
Which seems to contradict what Allan and Kathy have heard from Virgin Media.  

October 11, 2010

1TB V+ launching?

Allan has commented on this blog:
Just been told yesterday by Virginmedia that the 1TB boxes will be available this month
Can anyone verify this?

October 09, 2010

Support for Big Red

Cable Forum for me is the best of the online forums for discussion on Virgin Media, but some people there have seen it their right to abuse our friend Big Red because ITV 2 HD didn't launch on October 7th.
Pathetic. Big Red has good, reliable sources but even the best can sometimes get information that is subject to change by VM (or the channel providers). Holding him personally responsible for a channel launch is pathetic, much like that slagging off of Neil Berkett a while back which bordered on defamation of character - no-one deserves some of the abuse served up ocassionaly on the Digital Spy forums and it's disappointing to see similar on Cable Forum.
I sincerely hope Big Red doesn't stop posting - Media Boy and I have had similar snide remarks in the past. I've learned to live with it and I'm sure MB has too. And as for Mr Berkett, he has surely proven his critics wrong this year with the delivery on his promise of 30+ HD channels.

October 05, 2010

UTV HD arrives for Northern Ireland

The press release:
Virgin Media has today announced that its customers in Northern Ireland will now be able to enjoy UTV in stunning high-definition. Available at no extra cost to all HD enabled Virgin Media digital TV customers with a V+ HD or V HD box, UTV HD will be available on channel 113.
UTV HD is the latest HD channel to launch on Virgin Media's TV platform, and follows the launch of Scottish regional channel STV HD. Virgin Media is currently the only TV service providing these regional HD channels to its customers.
Virgin Media has launched twenty-two HD channel's this year with BBC 1 HD also due to launch in the coming months.
No official confirmation on ITV 2 HD yet.

Google TV preview in the US

Interesting, and probably more than a little similar to Virgin Media's forthcoming TiVo interface. I'm a little sceptical that it will take off - the Apple TV service has been around for years and has had little success in Europe or the US for that matter. If it has no PVR capability or broadcast integration it won't be a Sky/Virgin Media challenger, especially if the content is premium priced, only from the services of Netflix/Amazon/Android Market and heavily dependent on fast broadband connectivity.

October 04, 2010

More new HD series on their way

America's Next Top Model 
Mon, Oct 11 9pm Living HD
Thu, Oct 14 10pm Living HD
Eastbound & Down
Thu, Nov 11 10pm FX HD
Family Guy
Thu, Nov 4 9pm FX HD
Haven (New)
Thu, Oct 7 10pm Syfy HD
Thu, Oct 7 9pm Living HD
The Walking Dead (New)
Fri, Nov 5 10pm FX HD
Vampire Diaries
Tue, Oct 5 9pm ITV2 (HD channel launched Oct 7)
Mon, Oct 11 9pm ITV1 HD

Sky 3D and the Ryder Cup

Anyone pick up on the irony of heavy rain spoiling Sky's 3D parade at the weekend? Normally it just affects those Sky customers with slightly misaligned dishes, but this time no-one got to see the action.
Anyway, if you want to read one of the more entertaining commentaries on the great 3D channel launch have a read of Martin Kelner's column in The Guardian.
Also, has anyone watched Virgin's 3D offering? I'd be interested in posting any comments on the service you may have.

Super Hi Vision at the BBC

BBC Click has a piece on the BBC's R&D work Super Hi Vision this week. 16 times greater resolution than current HD.

October 02, 2010

ITV2 HD launching October 7th on Virgin Media

According to a post from Big Red over on Cable Forum:
ITV2 HD - 7th Oct
Universal HD - Oct (channel formerly known as Hallmark)
BBC1 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD - Nov
Sky Arts 1 HD, Sky Arts 2 HD and ESPN America HD - Before end of Year
UPDATE: The launch of ITV 2 HD has been delayed.

October 01, 2010

Sky to launch Sky Atlantic

No word yet as to whether Virgin Media will carry this, just too early to say. The word "exclusive" is used repeatedly in the Sky Press Release, but only in reference to the series it will be showing, not to it only being available to Sky customers.
So on the day we gain Sky 1 HD, Sky announces it will launch another channel to carry the premium US content and we're none the wiser as to whether we will get it in either SD or HD on cable. Ho hum. I suspect we won't hear any confirmation on Virgin Media carriage until a lot nearer the launch next year.
From The Guardian
BSkyB is to launch a new subscription channel, Sky Atlantic, that will be home to US imports including Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and Treme.
Sky Atlantic will have the UK TV premieres of HBO shows including Martin Scorsese's critically lauded prohibition era drama Boardwalk Empire and The Wire co-creator David Simon's new show, Treme.BSkyB also confirmed today that it has secured the exclusive UK broadcast rights to AMC's Mad Men from next year's series five for the life of the show. Mad Men will also be broadcast on Sky Atlantic.
Other HBO programmes that will premiere on Sky Atlantic include Luck, executive produced by David Milch and Michael Mann and starring Dustin Hoffman; Mildred Pierce, featuring Kate Winslet; and fantasy drama Game of Thrones. Future series of HBO shows such as Entourage and Big Love will also be shown on the channel.
BSkyB said that it could not at this stage confirm any wholesale deals with other pay-TV operators, such as Virgin Media, to carry Sky Atlantic.