June 27, 2011

Demand for more HD channels on Virgin Media still high

According to the week-long poll I've just run on this blog there's still a lot of frustrated Virgin Media customers out there waiting for more HD channels. Of the 765 who voted 296 (38%) want Sky Atlantic HD to be top of Virgin's shopping list, whilst another 202 want "other" HD channels and a further 92 seek the ITV channels in high def. In total that's three quarters of respondents think that Virgin Media should be prioritising the delivery of more HD content over improvements to TiVo (18% - let's be honest, it's pretty good already) and the roll out of 100mb broadband (a surprisingly small 35 votes).
Given that this blog is still primarily an HD forum, I guess it's not so surprising but I was taken aback as to how high the demand is for Sky Atlantic. It's a gaping hole in the VM channel line up and, as I've said before, I think it's time Mr Berkett's team sat down with Sky and thrashed out a deal. I've been fortunate enough to see Boardwalk Empire, Temple Gradin and Game of Thrones and they are all outstanding television, so isn't it about time we had them on Virgin Media? And how about a few other HD channels too? Surely the likes of ESPN America HD, History HD and Disney Cinemagic HD cannot be too expensive to close a deal on?
It's been a while since the arrival of the last HD channels on our platform, the long-promised Sky on demand content still has yet to arrive and best not mention the Sky Red Button service, so come on Mr Berkett, please listen to us and give us the additional HD services we long for.

20 comments:

campbellg said...

I have to echo those comments regarding Sky Atantic - I've also had the fortune to see some of the shows on offer and they really do blow many other dramas out of the water.

This really is a must have channel, virgin, get round that table and get a deal done, this lack of commitment to new content will not win you new customers or encourage existing customers to stay.

Nialli said...

Funnily enough I was talking to a Sky customer today and he said he'd move to Virgin for TiVo and the broadband like a shot...if it had Sky Atlantic.
What Sky has successfully done is introduce a product that is hugely valuable to a discerning audience. What Virgin fails to appreciate is that this audience is the one that is willing and able to pay £100+ a month for services. If VM aren't in the content game themselves they should at least meet the needs of that demographic and make that content available.

sibod said...

And if Sky are pricing it so that Virgin are forced to increase prices to maintain profitability, and therefore become uncompetetive to Sky, what then?

I beleive this to be the scenario - and lest we forget, at the start of this, there was no data on viewing figures for the channel.

Sky give it away for free to their own subscribers due to being significantly richer than Virgin Media (And we know there are historical reasons for that), but are under no obligation to allow Virgin the same deal.

So the question is - how much extra would a Virgin customer be willing to pay to get Atlantic HD on Virgin befor ethey switched to Sky to get it for free anyway?

howardmicks said...

@sibod,so when the long term(joke) carrage deal runs out and they up all the prices for there channels(and they will) what happens then do we lose more channels,the lack of new content for the last 12 months is becoming a joke.There is not just sky atlantic to go for,Universal Hd and lets not forget the cbs channels (they are available on freesat.Even bt` vod is looking better than vm,Clearly top prioty is broadband then phone before the tv side and its certainly starting to show.

Square eyes said...

I would like to know out of the 38% who want Sky Atlantic, what is the reason, because only a handfull of new programmes which are shown are new, the rest are repeats.

Nialli said...

@SquareEyes: you could say that of most pay channels. I personally will cite
Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones
Bored to Death
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Mad Men
Treme
and repeats of
Thirtysomething
Battlestar Galactica
The Sopranos
Six Feet Under
and Carnivale.
In fact I would go as far to say as I think it would be the channel I would watch more than any other.

Jon said...

With a TiVo box (or any DVR) it doesn't matter what is on most of the schedule - you just watch what you want when you want.

I'm normally only watching about 3 dramas at any time, although maybe recording up to 5 at peak times in the year. From what I've seen Sky Atlantic shows would probably be one or maybe even two of those recorded shows at any time since launch. That's a pretty high percentage of my viewing!

Phil said...

Why arent virgin pushin the sale of their TiVo box. I personally can't understand why they are so poor at advertising what is a fantastic piece of kit! Advertise TiVo, get more subscribers and then do a deal for Atlantic!

Square eyes said...

if you look at the new programmes they only show about 3-4 a week, the rest is made up from repeats.

I undersstand what you mean about the repeats being good as well, however DS9 finished in 1999, the X-Files 2002 - these series are years old. Having seen every episode and I mean every episode of DS9 & the X-Files several times over and yes there are other repeats to choose from which have been repeated to death, I just don't understand what it is about this channel that has the 38% so excited.

Yes I will admit that Atlantic may be worth sitting down around the table with Sky, but I do not think that it should be classed a premium channel as Sky would like everyone to think it is. This channel should just be part of the normal agreement, nothing more. If the viewing figures were good then maybe, however the channel does not get great figures, so why pay more???

Square eyes said...

@Phil

The TIVO box is not on general sale to the public, well not until July - it is only existing customers which can get it so far. Just for July then wait and see

Jon Dunlop said...

Quote: "Funnily enough I was talking to a Sky customer today and he said he'd move to Virgin for TiVo and the broadband like a shot...if it had Sky Atlantic."
This is why Sky should be forced to become two entities - a programme provider (who would want as large a potential audience as possible) and a service provider. As things stand, as soon as VM get the rights to show Sky Atlantic, a new exclusive channel will launch on Sky, and the whole charade will start again.
For the moment if Sky Atlantic is more important than decent broadband and Tivo, there is only one choice.

Jon Dunlop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
campbellg said...

"With a TiVo box (or any DVR) it doesn't matter what is on most of the schedule - you just watch what you want when you want."

Unless, of course, your provider doesn't give you the option of watching what you want when you want. Surely the point of tivo is the huge memory, ideal for the recording of several series in HD, so why are VM so reluctant to get the content to justify their piece of kit?

Sky Atlantic shows a lot of repeats, what channel doesn't, but the number of new, quality dramas it does show does make it 'must have' despite what VM say, it is for that reason that 38% of the poll want it.

I'd be willing to pay extra for it, I cannot move to Sky just now, but would if I could simply for this channel even though moving to Sky would probably cost me more per month - I don't like having to pay more but I especially don't like the fact I can't watch Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire from the comfort of my own living room.

Nialli said...

@campbellg: I'm with you on this: Sky Atlantic may not be to everyone's taste but I'm paying for over 150 channels a month that I never watch, a couple of dozen I watch regularly but the one I would watch most I don't get. I don't even have an option of paying a little extra to get it. For me, the two best new US series I had to view by other means, yet I'm paying premium rates. TiVo is great but my patience for waiting for Sky Atlantic is running out. Atlantic needs more viewers for advertisers now that Game of Thrones has finished and Mad Men is delayed, Virgin needs the channel. Surely a price can now be agreed?

Jon said...

@square eyes

"if you look at the new programmes they only show about 3-4 a week, the rest is made up from repeats."

As I said in my earlier post, how many shows can any one actually watch in a week?! Really, it matters to me not a jott what makes up most of the schedule on ANY channel. All that matters is the quality of the BEST shows on that channel, which I will record and then view at my leisure.

Now I agree Virgin should not accept an unreasonable price for this channel, but we need both sides to enter negotiations on the basis that their joint customers/viewers deserve to have access to the best content and that they will ultimately find a price both can live with.

Of course the viewing figures should come into this calculation but you must know that they are not the whole story. You only have to look at the weekly viewing figures to see that most viewers spend most of their time watching other than quality drama! However, it is generally recognised that the value of customers who do watch such content is typically higher than the "average viewer". Both Sky and Virgin must recognise this and move forward in good faith.

Buttox Brown said...

I am a SKY HD customer and i'm moving to Virgin TIVO on Saturday. I understand that it's not that SKY and Virgin have to thrash out deals, keep for themselves etc.. It's because Virgin cannot add more channels untill more UK regions switches over. Analouge channels take up far more space on the network. I did not like the Atlantic channel, 'Game of thrones' had far too much sex, nearly pornographic and was the biggest let down of the year. Blue bloods is boring, an typical american apple pie family where they all sit down to say grace before dinner at the end of every show. I liked Boardwalk Empire but had too much sex & violence for my wife, she never watched it.

Nialli said...

@BB: it used to be true that the analogue services cluttered up VM's bandwidth and seriously restricted channel capacity, but that's not been the case for quite a while. Virgin has completely overhauled the network now and has lots of capacity spare for new services, both TV and Broadband.
Welcome to Virgin, btw.

Buttox Brown said...

Cheers Nialli, thats what I got told from a VM engineer at my house. I wouldnt get excited about atlantic, I've only watched it a few times for about a month after the channel was launched. Dont see why it's worth £75 a month just to watch that. If I really want to watch boardwalk empire i'll get the boxset. I've always had VM in the bedrooms as i kept the BB & phone. I'm getting rid of sky and getting the tivo box.

sat said...

i was a vm customer for several years up until march 2010 i jumped to sky purely for sky sports HD as i have 2 HD tv's in my house. But only a month later i found out VM are bringing HD to there sports. Fast forward 18 months i now jumping back to VM as TIVO box is in a league of its own and affordable as 1 tyrabite box plus a 500gb box for only £30 after my credits added to account. sky has currently 57 hd channels excluding there box off channels ave course and VM has 39 which is great as all my fav channels are on hd. Broad walk empire i missed out as its brill so ive heard. i await as give it till early next year im sure vm will have it. Sky you can only record 2 channels at the sametime providing you watching one of them (real downer). tivo will get bashed by me and my kids big time. welcome back VM

sat said...

i was a vm customer for several years up until march 2010 i jumped to sky purely for sky sports HD as i have 2 HD tv's in my house. But only a month later i found out VM are bringing HD to there sports. Fast forward 18 months i now jumping back to VM as TIVO box is in a league of its own and affordable as 1 tyrabite box plus a 500gb box for only £30 after my credits added to account. sky has currently 57 hd channels excluding there box off channels ave course and VM has 39 which is great as all my fav channels are on hd. Broad walk empire i missed out as its brill so ive heard. i await as give it till early next year im sure vm will have it. Sky you can only record 2 channels at the sametime providing you watching one of them (real downer). tivo will get bashed by me and my kids big time. welcome back VM