July 30, 2011

Berkett talks about Spotify

From Paidcontent.co.uk: Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett says he will bundle Spotify with his broadband service for a “very, very low monthly subscription”.

Spotify charges £9.99 for its Premium service. “We’ll bundle it in to our broadband for significantly less than that,” Berkett told investment analysts. Actual prices were never disclosed in the companies’ recent bundling announcement.

“(The deal) was spawned from a transaction we tried to do two years ago,” Berkett said, referring to Virgin’s vapourware announcement of an unlimited downloads plan, which only garnered UMG’s buy-in. “It’s hard for ISPs to work with the content industry sometimes.

“(With Spotify), we had to sign a deal with each of the music labels and with Spotify. The reason they (labels) did it is, we’ll be more forceful when it comes to piracy. It’s the right thing to do to create digital confidence from our suppliers and customers.

“I’d like to do the same thing in movies but somebody has control of the rights window,” Berkett said, referring to Sky Movies’ lock-up on premium subscription rights - something which prohibits Lovefilm’s digital subscription offering and which is currently being scrutinised by UK competition authorities. Virgin-Lovefilm discussions for carriage on Virgin’s TiVo have so far come to nought.

Virgin Media has a fixed-line exclusive on Spotify for TiVo and bundled broadband access, which its customers will also be able to use on Virgin mobiles on a non-exclusive basis.

July 27, 2011

Discovery 3D coming to VM

Discovery is to make and broadcast its first 3D TV shows outside the US after striking deals with BSkyB and Virgin Media.

The US factual broadcaster has struck a range of deals to produce programming in genres including natural history, engineering, extreme sports and crime.

Under the deal Sky and Virgin have signed content deals to air commissions including 3D Safari, which is to be made by Renegade Pictures, a 10-part series of 60-minute shows filmed at Woburn Abbey, home to a safari park.

Virgin Media Q2 results: revenues up, customers down

From MediaGuardian:
Virgin Media lost 36,000 customers in the three months to the end of June, in part because thousands of students dropped their low-priced TV and broadband subscriptions for the summer holidays.

The Virgin Media chief executive, Neil Berkett, downplayed the significance of the customer losses – 21,200 of whom left Virgin Media's TV service – which were significantly worse than most analysts had forecast.

"We are very satisfied with the quarter," he said. "It proves our strategy of targeting the mass-market, digitally-aware, data-hungry consumers is working very well."

The company pointed out that more than 90% of the customers who left were "lower-value single- and dual-play [those taking two services from Virgin] customers" with 29% taking just a single service.

"We deliver superior growth, we do not chase unprofitable business," said Berkett. "It is not in our psyche."

Despite the customer losses the company reported an investor-pleasing 3.2% year-on-year increase in average revenue per user – a key metric watched closely by analysts – to £47.35 as Virgin Media boosted takeup of its higher-

The company said that it has installed 50,000 of its new TiVo personal video recorder set-top boxes, and has another 25,000 customers awaiting installation. Virgin Media believes its TiVo PVR is more technologically advanced than rival products such as BSkyB's Sky+ box.

July 26, 2011

Sky Anytime+ coming to Virgin Media soon

"Sky Anytime+ is launching on our platform later this year. We haven't produced a full announcement or any detail on the service because the Electric magazine is the only channel where we've mentioned the launch of these services, and we want a fuller shout (with more detail) to coincide with a press release and arrive closer in advance to the date of launch. As soon as our communications have been finalised, I will let you know!"

from a post on community.virginmedia.com

Minus Sky Atlantic programming I would expect, but you never know.

Sky Movies shake up anticipated

from MediaGuardian:
BSkyB's domination of premium movies on pay-TV is headed for a challenge next month when the Competition Commission is expected to announce that it will take action to weaken the satellite broadcaster's stranglehold on Hollywood films.

BT and Virgin Media have led rival pay-TV and film businesses in pushing for regulators to limit Sky's power on the grounds that it was keeping competitors out of the market. Preliminary findings published over recent weeks on the commission's website have found that Sky has a case to answer. The commission will give its provisional decision in mid-August.

July 25, 2011

EPG update - statement from VM

Good Afternoon,
We’d like to sincerely apologise for any issues you may have encountered over the last few days with your Series Links failings on our TiVo service.
The issue was caused by a bug in a scheduled update to our TiVo service overnight on Friday, which became apparent to customers during Saturday. We worked across the weekend to resolve the issue and deployed a remedy on Sunday evening. Customers with TiVo should have already started to see their boxes automatically update and we expect all boxes to have the fix in place by Tuesday morning.
In the meantime, customers can force a manual update before then by forcing a service connection. To do this press Home > Help & Settings > Settings > Network > Connect to the Virgin Media TV Service now. It can take up to a couple of hours for the box to complete indexing the new database and for Series Links to re-schedule.
Once remedied, your TiVo box will try and find an alternate showing of the episode you have missed and set it to record.  To check this is the case:
Go to Home > My Shows & Recordings > Manage my Series Links.
Then select any series where you think you missed an episode over the weekend.  
For that series choose “View upcoming episodes”. 
Make sure that the alternative showing of the episode you missed is set to record.
If it is not set to record automatically then select “Record this episode also”.
Alternatively, if the programme was on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5, you may find the programme already within Catch Up TV service. Find the programme by scrolling back in the TV Guide, via Search, or within the Catch Up & On Demand menus.
Right now, we’re in the process of ensuring that we’ve completely resolved the issue and that we learn the right lessons to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We'll also make sure in future we do a better job of keeping our teams and customers updated on issue status.
Once again, many apologies.
Stephen Featham
Director of TV Technical Operations, Digital Entertainment, Virgin Media.

July 24, 2011

EPG issues

Virgin Media has some serious EPG issues this weekend for TiVo services and can't fix them as they can't access their servers on a Sunday! That's not a consumer service, that's just plain crazy. As I'm currently on hols myself and depending on TiVo series links I'm more than a little concerned as I was hoping to have Arrested Development, The Killing and Torchwood when I got home. Mind you,missing Camelot and the disappointing Falling Skies won't be quite so painful, and I can still catch The Hour on iPlayer. Let's hope it's sorted pronto.
For the latest news check Jason's blog

July 21, 2011

A few in the HD pipeline

Some returning favourites and a few new shows, coming soon (and a few coming a little later)
  • An Idiot Abroad 2 - September on Sky1 HD
  • A Town Called Eureka s4 - Tue, August 9 on Syfy HD
  • Beaver Falls s1 - Wed, July 27 at 10pm on E4 HD
  • Burn Notice s4 - Sunday, August 24 on FX HD
  • Terra Nova s1 - Autumn on Sky1HD
  • The Cape s1 - Thu, July 21 at 8pm on Syfy HD
  • The Killing s2 - Autumn on BBC Four (the original - probably just SD)
  • True Blood s4 - January 2012 on FX HD
  • Warehouse 13 s3 - Thu, August 4 at 9pm on Syfy HD

July 20, 2011

Home cinema magazines closing

Disappointing news for home entertainment enthusiasts as Future Publishing has announced today that these titles are to be sold or closed : DVD & Blu-Ray Review, Hi-Fi Choice, What Satellite & Digital TV  and my personal favourite Home Cinema Choice.
The website TechRadar, which was an umbrella site for many of these, will continue though.

TiVo vs V+

In a couple of comments on a previous post Sibod and Streaky7 have pulled together an interesting TiVo vs. V+ comparison that I'm giving its own post as not all of this blog's readers go beyond the home page. Let me know what you think.
Sibod] Sure, Tivo is sluggish, yes, it has bugs, and yes, the Pin and lack fo Red Button on some channels is frustrating - however:
  1. Being able to set folders for shows and set it to keep only the last x number of watched shows is a godsend. Peppa Pig, Fireman Sam, Bob the builder, Baby Jake and other kids shows would take over my Tivo for the rest of my life if I didnt have about 5-10 episodes of each rather than everything!  Tivo 1, V+ 0
  2. The search function is significantly more pwoerful than the V+ - it is faster, and searches all content, and gives you options on how to get it. Missed the first episode of Torchwood? Fine - if it's not int he on demand, you can set a wish list item for it - just by searching for Torchwood, selecting the season and episode you want, read the episode guide and check if its wone you've not seen yet. Tivo will then wait for that show and record it when it's on, or pull from the on demand database and provide you with a link to it. Excellent! This has saved my bacon more than once. TiVo 2, V+ 0
  3. Suggestions. Yes, a lot of it is rubbish, but there's been stuff in there I would have otherwise missed. Movies, new episodes of shows I've not yet told Tivo I liked (big bang theory being one!) and the like. Tivo 3, V+ 0
  4. Undelete. In a bid mad episode of deleting I've once or twice deleted a new unwatched episode of something - and regretted it. Unlike V+, I can go to the recently deleted list and recover it and watch it. Tivo 4, V+ 0
  5. Discovery bar. Again, it's shown up stuff I would have missed. The new series of Torchwood showed up in there because I recorded Doctor Who - so I was able to set recordings for it. Tivo 5, V+ 0
  6. Speed. TIvo's biggest problem is that it can be sluggish, especially compared to the V+ - but it's not dramatic and it is more often than not faster. Searching TV on demand is significantly faster for example. Tivo 5, V+1
  7. Interface.Tivo has a far nicer, better laid out interface. V+ by contrast is just a bunch of text on a black background. There's no rich UI to draw you in, the menus are just hierarchical and not contextual like the TIvo. Having said that, it is consistent and things are reasonably logical. Tivo 6, V+1
  8. Rewind and conflicts.Simply put the V+ stank at clashes. It gave you the chance to resolve them yourself, but if you missed the banner it was a case of losing the show you wanted recorded and putting up with it. TIvo intelligently reschedules if it misses the show for whatever reason.Tivo 7, V+ 1
  9. Remote record. Simply put I love being able to set recordings over the internet or from my phone. Cant do that with V+, so that's an instant win.Tivo 8, v+1
  10. Reliability. By far the biggest issue I have with the Tivo is that if your internet connection is down, then yoru Tivo loses significant media - such as the discovery bar, TV Guide updates and programme info - and it errors and throws you out of certain options. A pain in the backside. V+ was far simpler than that and thus didn't suffer network outages.Tivo 8, V+ 2

 [and Streaky7 adds]
  1. Messages Whether it be to confirm a remote recording or for VM to send you a message like this morning's one about BBC iPlayer now on On Demand. Tivo 9, V+ 2
  2. Apps & Games Not for everyone I suppose but it is another feature over V+ Tivo 10, V+ 2
  3. Recording Hiccups. Nice little feature to see why a programme wasnt recorded. I have only looked at this a couple of times but it gave me great insight in to how TiVo works and helped me work better with it. Tivo 11, V+ 2
  4. Manage My Series Links. V+, as Sibod pointed out, is a set up once and go. If it records great, if it doesnt...damn! Tivo is better than this. And this feature works with you on getting a better performance out of your machine. Re-prioritise your links and wishlists so your favs are at the top. They should always then record and others, if there are clashes, will then be reset for another recording day. BEWARE THOUGH, THE MORE LINKS YOU HAVE THE LONGER THE RED DONUT WILL SIT THERE WHILST IT IS UPDATING YOUR PLANNED PROGRAMME LIST - I HAVE NEARLY 100 LINKS/WISHLISTS, IT TAKES ABOUT 5MINS FOR MINE TO UPDATE SO PICK YOUR MOMENT TO DO THIS Tivo 12, V+ 2
  5. Remote Buttons & Shortcuts. Whether it channel up/down, fast forward/rewind skipping features, thumbs up/down, easy delete, removing the mini screen in the menu section, these are all little tricks you cant do with a V+ remote. Tivo 13, V+ 2
  6. Choice of Hard Drive. Whether it be 500gb or 1tb, with Tivo you have significantly more space plus a choice of how much extra space you need. Tivo 14, V+ 2
  7. Tuners. Tivo has 3. Plus with Tivo you can actually record 3 things at once whilst you watch a recorded programme or I believe something from On Demand. And you can toggle through the tuners to catch up with things - good for sports! Tivo 15, V+ 2

I don't necessarily agree with everything said here, but it's a pretty impressive list. Doesn't mention some of the simpler things (e.g. how silent the TiVo is) or go into any detail on some of the negatives of TiVo (SD picture quality on some TVs) but thanks for the contribution chaps - nice work.


July 19, 2011

BBC iPlayer content now appearing in the TiVo catch up EPG

Poor old Streaky 7 - he's combatting a load of negative TiVo comments that have appeared against yesterday's Poll post single-handed (sorry I can't help mate but I've got a problem with my work PC posting comments for some reason).
Anyway, he's just posted that the BBC iPlayer content can now be accessed via the backwards TiVo EPG. Virgin guy BenMcr, who's always accurate, confirms on Cable Forum

July 18, 2011

Off topic...but who cares?

New poll

I've had my TiVo a few months and can't imagine going back to the V+. Great piece of kit - okay, not perfect, but reliable and a most welcome addition to my home entertainment set up. What do you think? A quick poll had been added top right to give voice to the VMHD massive...

Virgin TiVo iPhone App

Virgin has launched its TiVo App for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. It's free so I won't grumble, but the Radio Times App is more polished in its EPG. Like the Android App you can use it to set recordings remotely.

July 13, 2011

Virgin Q2 Results: July 27th

The days leading up to Virgin Media's quarterly results are normally peppered with new service announcements, so here's hoping that the run up to the results presentations on Wednesday, July 27 will see some enhancements on the TV side. I would imagine there'll be a lot around TiVo, but wouldn't it be great if Sky Atlantic and a few more HD channels arrived to? Here's hoping.

July 12, 2011

The TiVo Harry Potter App

I had a quick play with it over the weekend and it's quite neat, linking to additional content (cast and crew interviews, Deathly Hallows Pt 1 premiere, etc) and the option to catch up with series (all six movies to date).
What was welcome was that it felt like it was done properly and not a rushed bit of jerky Flash programming. The other apps on the TiVo have left me distinctly unimpressed, but this one is pretty neat and hopefully an indication of what's to come.
Here's Virgin's press release on it:
To celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 on 15th July, Virgin Media has launched a dedicated Harry Potter app for its cutting edge TiVo service. Designed to conjure up even more excitement as we near the end of this magical movie series, the app celebrates the long and epic journey Harry and his friends have taken since they arrived at Hogwarts.

The new app, developed by Virgin Media with content from Warner Bros. Pictures debuts in the Virgin Media TiVo Apps and Games section. It has been carefully created with Harry Potter fans in mind, giving them a spellbinding range of Harry Potter content to remind them of the thrills of this great series.
To complement the new app, Harry Potter fans will be able to re-live the magic of six* of the Harry Potter films on Virgin Media in preparation for the final showdown that hits cinemas nationwide on 15th July. Virgin Media TiVo customers can take a shortcut for easy access to all of the available movies through a dedicated collector’s folder that has been created to mark this very special occasion.
(*The five Harry Potter films available on Virgin Media On Demand are – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.Customers must have Sky Movies subscription to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)

July 11, 2011

New Virgin Media TV Guide mobile app with remote record for TiVo

You probably read about it last week on this (and other) blogs but now it's official:

Virgin Media has today launched the Virgin Media TV Guide smartphone app, the perfect companion to its cutting edge new TV service powered by TiVo. The free Android app enables customers to browse the TV guide, see what’s on over the next seven days and remotely set recordings from their mobile device, meaning Virgin Media customers with TiVo never need miss out on their favourite shows.

Available now from the Android Market Place, and coming soon to the Apple App Store for iPhone, the Virgin Media TV Guide app gives viewers ultimate control of their TV viewing. Virgin Media customers can personalise the app by creating a list of their favourite channels to ensure they’re kept up to date with the week’s TV schedule, and, with a detailed synopsis for each programme, telly fans can get the low-down on the latest episode, record their favourite show or series, and share what they’re watching with friends and family by text or email.

Alex Green, executive director of commercial TV & online at Virgin Media, said: “We think Virgin Media’s TiVo Service is the best way to watch TV and our new mobile app enhances that experience by ensuring you’ll never miss recording a programme whilst out and about. Our TiVo service already offers the most flexible and comprehensive recording options and features, which this new service complements.”

Virgin Media TV Guide app is available now by searching for ‘Virgin Media TV Guide’ in the Android Market Place, with availability in the Apple App Store to follow

July 07, 2011

TiVo ads: Wishlists

(Personally I think Wishlists are more useful than this ad suggests, but I guess there's a limit to what you can squeeze into 30 seconds)

July 06, 2011

TiVo ads: Capacity

Virgin launch Android App

Check out Jason's blog for details on the Virgin Media Android TV Guid App, including the ability to remote record TiVo.

Virgin Media Spotify deal confirmed

Official press release:
Virgin Media today announced an exclusive agreement with digital music service Spotify that will make Virgin Media the only digital entertainment provider in the UK to offer the music platform across multiple services*. Making listening to and finding new music fantastically easy, worry-free and more affordable for Virgin Media customers, the pioneering partnership will see Spotify’s massive catalogue of over 13 million tracks available to customers however they choose, be it online, on the move through their mobiles, or in the living room through their TVs.
Virgin Media’s groundbreaking agreement with Spotify will mean over 4 million fibre optic broadband customers will have the option to access music online in a safe, legal way for the whole family whenever they want. Virgin Media will also be the only digital entertainment provider in the UK to integrate Spotify into its TV offering through its cutting-edge ‘connected’ TV service powered by TiVo, as well as being able to provide a bundled solution for customers with Virgin Mobiles.
Due to launch in the coming months, Virgin Media will be making Spotify available to both new and existing customers through a range of special offers. This will include both Spotify Unlimited, which will give customers unlimited access to Spotify’s full library of music, ad-free, on their computers, and Spotify Premium, which adds the ability to enjoy the complete Spotify library on the move through mobile devices. Customers choosing Spotify through Virgin Media will also benefit from exclusive features and content, as well as be eligible for special promotions.
Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said: “We are delighted to have united the Virgin Media brand with the world’s best music service. Spotify will help our customers to fill their world with music, whether it’s at home or on the go, and provide a unique way to get even more out of Virgin Media’s leading digital services.”
Andreas Liffgarden, director of business development at Spotify, added: “By teaming up with Virgin Media we’re giving millions more people across the UK the chance to enjoy all the world’s music at their fingertips, however they choose to listen to it - be that on their computer, mobile, and for the first time through their TV.”
Retaining the flexibility and freedom of Spotify’s existing online and mobile services, Virgin Media customers will be able to seamlessly create playlists from millions of tracks, share songs or playlists with friends instantly through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as explore new music whenever they choose to. Virgin Media customers enjoying Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo®, the UK’s first next-generation ‘connected’ TV service, will be able to enjoy their Spotify service through a jointly developed app for subscribers.
Existing Virgin Media customers will get the first opportunity to take advantage of this exciting partnership with special offers and an exclusive sign-up window. Existing Spotify users that are currently, or become, Virgin Media broadband customers will be able to keep their existing accounts and still take advantage of bundled offers.

July 05, 2011

Virgin confirms TiVo refund

"As many of you will have seen, we have just launched the marketing campaign for Virgin Media TiVo. As part of this campaign we've decided to lower the price for the 1TB box to £99.95. We're conscious that the earliest buyers of this great product paid £149.95, which was an offer only available to existing Virgin Media XL TV customers at the time.
"We want to ensure that those who bought TiVo early are not missing out on the more competitive price now available. We're therefore pleased to say that we'll be crediting all those customers who bought the 1TB box at £149.95 with the £50 difference. This will appear on your bill in the next two months. We'll be emailing all these customers shortly, to confirm this.
"We hope that you'll continue to enjoy your TiVo experience, which we think is the best way to watch TV, ever!"

TiVo ads: Scroll Back

Virgin refunding early TiVo adopters

Those of us who paid £149 for the TiVo as a "special offer" may be in for a refund of the difference (the box is now £99). Several of this blog's regulars have contacted VM Chief Exec Neil Berkett and have had £50 back. Apparently the TiVo price drop was a reaction to Sky dropping its price on their (inferior) 1Tb box and now VM are contacting the early adopters whether we complain or not.
If true, well done Virgin.

July 04, 2011

July 02, 2011

Virgin cuts TiVo prices

I missed this completely, but Jason on his fab Virgin Media TiVo blog posted yesterday:

Virgin Media slash installation fee and standardise service fee for TiVo; 1TB version now £99; 500Gb version now £49.95

Previously, customers on the M+ and L TV packs would pay an additional £8 per month for TiVo. From now, they only pay £3 per month - the same as XL customers. So, regardless of what TV pack a customer chooses, you pay £3 additional per month for TiVo.
Also, the £40 installation fee has been dropped. That means that new and existing customers can get a 500Gb TiVo for just £49.95, with free installation.
Meanwhile, the 1TB version of the next-generation PVR has been reduced. It was £150 for existing customers and £199 for new customers. Now, its just £99 for both existing and new customers. The requirement to have the TV XL pack in order to have the 1TB version of TiVo has also been removed - so 1TB of recording capacity is now also available to customers on M+ and L packs, as well as XL.

The Marc Warren Tivo Ads

I like Marc Warren. I like his blue suits. And I like his cable-free room in the new Virgin ads for their cable service. Oh how funny.
Anyway, here is the first ad, which can be found on the Virgin Tivo YouTube channel. Or you can find them all (and I really like them) at the Virgin website.

Virgin Media HD channels, what came when

There have been a number of comments posted on this blog of late criticising Virgin for not adding HD channels for some time. It may feel like there hasn't been much additional HD content for some time, the actual arrival of HD on Virgin is (according to Wikipedia, and subject to local roll out):
  • BBC HD Feb-07
  • Channel 4 HD Jul-09
  • FX HD Jul-09
  • Nat Geo HD Jul-09
  • MTVN HD Jul-09
  • ESPN HD Aug-09
  • Sky Living HD Oct-09
  • ITV1 HD Apr-10
  • E4 HD Apr-10
  • Syfy HD Apr-10
  • Discovery HD Apr-10
  • Eurosport HD Apr-10
  • Five HD Jul-10
  • Film 4 HD Jul-10
  • Ten Sky Movies HD Aug-10
  • Two Sky Sports HD Aug-10
  • Comedy Central HD Sep-10
  • Sky1 HD Oct-10
  • BBC One HD Nov-10
  • Sky Arts 1 HD Apr-11
  • Sky Arts 2 HD Apr-11
So far from the "no new HD in over a year" someone posted we've actually had 19 additional HD channels added in the last twelve months. And how many did Sky add? According to my maths on a crumpled up serviette they added 15. I know Sky had more to begin with and Virgin exclusives have been limited to just Film4 and the original Living, but we have come a long way in a relative short space of time so let's keep this in perspective.
And now that I've been nice, can I please have Sky Atlantic HD?