Years ago when I made my living as a magazine editor I always felt as though I was scraping the barrel when I published the traditional "reviews of the year" in the dying weeks of December. Writing this blog and it's no different - there's no news whatsoever on Virgin Media to report and it's not just silent nights, it's silent weeks on end. TiVo's had an update and is a much better product for it, we've had a few new HD channels this year but there's little on the horizon to get excited about, and even I'm getting bored with my banging on about the absence of Sky Atlantic from our screens. So what's a poor blogger to do?
Well, let me entertain you for a few minutes with my predictions for Virgin Media's 2012. No inside scoop on any of this, just pure speculation that I will no doubt read in twelve months' time and wonder what the hell I was thinking of...
1. TiVo will be the only option
The V+ is already absent as an option for new customers and I think VM will actively be looking to replace first the old SA boxes and then the Samsung V+'s from their customers' homes. This won't be universally popular but they have to evolve the service and bet the bank on TiVo. If they can port the TiVo interface onto the existing V boxes (the non-PVR HD boxes) the legacy Liberty software will be gone for good by the end of the year.
2. TiVo will no longer be a separate monthly fee
I'm surprised it still is. I will be stunned if that's the case by the close of 2012
3. New customers will arrive in dribs and drabs
I can't see the last of the digital refuseniks (who will lose their analogue TV next year) switching over in droves to VM. Most will opt for Freeview, some will be tempted to Sky, others will make the mistake of forking out for BT Vision's third rate service. Whilst Sky seems destined to produce outstanding results quarter after quarter, Virgin's 2011 numbers were far less impressive and I expect next year to be even flatter. Broadband will do okay but TV customers will stutter and splutter.
4. VM will continue to undersell and poorly promote its outstanding Video On Demand
It should have been a Sky killer, but even Samuel L Jackson couldn't sell this to the masses. Everyone I know who sees it loves it, it's the only real VoD TV service that delivers BBC iPlayer HD programming, and we all take it for granted, but do Sky customers know about it? I doubt it.
5. VM will finally get the HD versions of ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4, ESPN America, History and Universal
6. But we won't see Sky News, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4 or Sky Sports News in high def
I don't think VM would want them even if Sky offered them
7. Sky Atlantic will appear on Virgin Media in the Spring
Mind you, I said the same thing last year. Will we get it in HD? You'd think not, but we did get Sky1 HD so you never know.
8. Networking your TiVo will remain one for the techies
It'll just be too confusing for your average household
9. TiVo Apps on tablets and smartphones will initially disappoint...
...but will take off big time once the software stabilises
10. Turner Broadcasting will finally embrace not just widescreen but also HD...but only on Sky
It's the last of the big broadcasters still in 4:3 land, but they will finally deliver TCM, CNN, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cartoonito and introduce Adult Swim in the UK in full hi def (except for old SD stuff). On Sky only.
11. This blog will carry on
I sometimes wonder if it's worth continuing with VMHD, especially as the news is often thin on the ground and there are fine blogs from Media Boy and Jason that cover much of the same ground, but it still attracts an audience. I'll keep hanging in there if you guys still want me.
(Well, that's one I'll get right.)
Happy New Year, all!