December 28, 2011

Virgin Media in 2012 - place your bets!

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!

17 comments:

HD Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HD Boy said...

Also Virgin Media are on track to have 80 HD channels in 2 years.

http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showpost.php?p=54594270&postcount=1

I think 2012 will be a very good for HD channels

HD Boy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moroboshi said...

Sensible predictions, although I doubt we'll see Sky Atlantic this year. It's Sky's last big selling point over cable so they'll want to keep it exclusive basically forever.

As for Virgin's on demand service, I think it's gained little traction due to clunky UI design and limited content. The recent Xbox dashboard redesign when used with kinect voice recognition shows a direction which I think will ultimately win out. It's early days and the content line-up is limited and mostly in brutally low end SD, but if not MS then someone like Apple will take this idea and make it work. When they do, I think clunky old fashioned offering such as cable and satellite will begin their slow decline into obscurity.

Chris Emmett said...

Please carry on. This blog is on my main RSS feed reader.

Dazza124 said...

Please keep this going...
I visit daily for snippets and enjoy the comment

Andy Wheeler said...

Please keep the blog going, it's one of my favourites! :)

DaveM said...

fingers crossed for continuous improvement of virgin media's HD cable tv offering, i've been pleased with TiVo so far, but dont think it has been a revolution over the V+ box, maybe i'm not putting enough into it... #11. keep it up, thanks!

Goonerdude said...

Keep up the good work love the blog,

Loopy Films said...

Great blog - please keep it coming!

Kevin Lloyd said...

On prediction 6, I agree that we won't see SS3 or 4 in HD because Sky will only make them available if forced to do so by OFCOM. But I'm less clear why VM would not want them were they to be offered. I'm pretty sure existing VM SS customers would want all of the channels in HD (this one certainly would). Very much hope you are correct about Atlantic but that remains very much a hope rather than an expectation.

Darren Taylor said...

I've given up on Virgin Media getting Sky Atlantic, i really hope that Virgin Media gets ITV 2+3 and 4 HD in 2012.
Great Blog keep up the good work in 2012.

HD Boy said...

Your blog is a lot better than Jason's.

Nialli said...

Thanks, but I think he does a cracking job with his TiVo blog. I don't know how he finds the time to cover things in the detail he does and in so timely a manner. I don't blog during work hours these days (too busy doing the stuff that pays) as folk may have noticed, although if a relevant story breaks in MediaGuardian I sometimes paste it pretty much verbatim (The Guardian actually encourages it as long as the source is credited). MB's new blog is good too, and covers stuff I don't always include here. I think VMHD was the first of its kind for Virgin Media but I could be wrong. I'm glad everyone still finds it useful.

streaky_7 said...

great blog - one of the first sites i check when i get a go on the ipad...

keep up the great work and happy new year!!!

Harkaway said...

Thanks for everything you do for us including links to other sources!

I was especially intrigued by your comment about Turner channels, but saddened by your prediction that only Sky will reap the benefit. That TCM has now moved so far towards playing widescreen films without at least going widescreen is a travesty. But I'd be just as pleased if TCM here was more like TCM in the US, showing more classic films from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I glimpsed a headline a few months ago which suggested they might be going widescreen, but it disappeared quickly.

So I'll wait until you have another scoop.

Happy New Year! (and thanks for all the hard work)

Martine93 said...

"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 "

You could be right

http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?p=56370516#post56370516