February 28, 2011

Sky Sports red button - "coming in April"

Media Boy's blog is reporting that Sky Sports red button is launching on Virgin Media in April. Presumably red button functionality on TiVo boxes will arrive around then too.
Also, for your convenience and information I've added a Blog List at the foot of the home page of VMHD so that you can see what the latest postings are on the other Virgin Media blogs.

SD upscaling on the TiVo

There have been several posts on Digital Spy suggesting that the upscaling of SD on the TiVo is inferior to the exisitng V+ box. There have also been posts asserting that there's no discernable difference and I guess as always it will be in the eye of the beholder.
I asked Scottivo what he thought and he said that he doesn't really watch any SD now but he'll have a look on his new TiVo.
I don't watch any SD myself anymore except the odd programmes on BBC News, BBC4, More4 and those things I record but don't have sufficient disc space to record them in HD, so if the SD upscaling is inferior I don't think it will personally be important to me and my legacy 32in 720p TV.

February 27, 2011

Virgin Media's TiVo - in depth review

(The following review is posted by Scottivo, one of the UK's foremost TV writers and a good friend of mine who was fortunate enough to get a Virgin Media TiVo box as an owner of a series 1 TiVo. The slideshow top right on the blog features his exclusive screengrabs from the TiVo, too.)

Firstly, a bit of background – my first PVR was a TiVo, which I bought the week it launched in the UK 10 years ago, and when the Sky+ was released I used both for a number of years. In recent times I’ve had both a Sky+ and a V+, having assigned the TiVo box to the attic.
I had the new “Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo” box installed this week and the minute I switched it on I realised how much my TV viewing had missed TiVo’s personality.
The noises TiVo makes when you push buttons on its remote have personality, the shape of the handset has personality, its menu messages have personality and it records programmes that it thinks I might want to watch as if it’s an old friend who knows my likes and dislikes. When pressing play while fast forwarding a recording it even anticipates where I wanted to start watching, jumping back a couple of heartbeats to allow for my reaction time.
There’s something about TiVo that makes it feel a lot less like a piece of hardware that provides a cable service and more like a TV-loving viewing companion.
As far as the interface and EPG response time were concerned, in my opinion, the V+ always lagged behind the Sky+, literally as far as the TV guide was concerned, whereas the V+ Catch-up and VOD services were far superior to Sky’s efforts, even with their new Anytime+ service. Now, however, I have the best of both worlds with the new TiVo box.
The TV guide is excellent and integrates Catch Up TV seamlessly, offering icons on shows that will become available to watch on demand after transmission, along with the ability to scroll backwards on the EPG grid to select something to watch that’s already been broadcast.
You can also view the TV guide through the pop-up screen you access by pressing the OK button, allowing you to scroll up and down a mini three-deck grid EPG
The Search facility on the TiVo is phenomenally powerful. You can search for anything – a show, a person, a movie or a keyword – across broadcast TV, on demand services and the Internet. As an example, I searched for Doctor Who. The results were broken into six sections – “Get this show”, “Upcoming”, “Episode guide”, “Cast”, “Bonus features” and “If you like this… “.
“Get this show” allows you to set a series link, record the next episode and view the episodes that are available on demand (broken down by series number).
“Upcoming” offers a list of episodes scheduled to be shown on broadcast channels (a mix of BBC HD, BBC Three and Watch), as always with the ability to record that episode or set a series link.
“Episode guide” offers a short synopsis of all modern-era Doctor Who episodes, listed series-by-series, with the ability to create a Wishlist search that will automatically record that episode if it’s scheduled to be repeated.
“Cast” lists stars who have appeared in the series – from Doctors and their companions, like Matt Smith and Billie Piper, to one-off guests, like Lee Evans – offering a short biography and the ability to view anything on the on demand service that features them or to record any shows or movies they are scheduled to appear in.
“Bonus features” connects to the Internet to view YouTube clips of Doctor Who.
“If you like this…” offers a selection of other series that fans of Doctor Who might be interested in viewing. Among others, it suggested Sarah Jane Adventures, Big Bang Theory, Star Trek and My Family. Not sure how that last one crept in, I’ll put it down to teething problems!
Yes, the Search facility is, as I said, amazing but what if you don’t want to constantly have to check whether your favourite series or star has popped into the listings? That’s when you’ll want to use the equally impressive Wishlist function. This clever little innovation allows you to use one or more of six fields – Keyword, Title Keyword, Actor, Director, Category and Wishlist Name – to set up a alert that will inform you if a show fitting your criteria appears in the listings and record it for you.
Add to all that an Apps and Games section that offers access to Ebay, Twitter, weather forecasts, celebrity news, a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire game and an excellent YouTube interface and you can understand why I’m so happy with my new purchase.
Don’t get me wrong, the Virgin TiVo box isn’t perfect and will need a few more software updates – for example, there are still glitches when moving from one menu to another and red button shows can’t be accessed yet – but it’s undoubtedly the best PVR available in the UK.
It’s nice to have you back TiVo, watching TV is fun again!

TiVo question

Does anyone know why the TiVo's 1Tb disc is only capable of recording 100 hours of HD*, whereas the V+ 160Gb drive records 20 hours? By my calculation the Tivo disc should take 125 hours (8Gb per hour).
* According to the manual: "Your TiVo box comes with a whole terabyte of hard disk space. That’s about 400 hours of standard TV, recording or 100 hours of HD TV"

February 23, 2011

Sky Atlantic coverage on this blog

...will continue even though it's not "coming soon" according to Sky and Virgin bosses. Why? Well, the four most popular pages on this blog this month, excluding the home page, have all been stories about Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media - 10% of visits in all. I know it's not of interest to everyone, not specifically HD or TiVo-related, but if the people are interested I'll still post on it occasionally.

TiVo screenshots aplenty...

Over on Cable Forum. Thanks, Pythagoras

February 22, 2011

Sky Sports 2 HD sync problem

SD channel is fine, but the HD feed is badly out of sync this evening on my V+. I hope they get it sorted before the match kicks off in ten minutes.
Incidentally, the football pitch-side mikes on both of the Sky HD sports channels often seem out of sync (you hear a kick before you see it, albeit only fractionally). This time though it is the pre-match discussion that's out by a good second or two. Anyone else got this problem with it?

Sky Atlantic viewing figures: Treme

From the creator of The Wire, Treme is the second of the big new HBO series on Sky Atlantic and made its debut last Friday. But if Boardwalk Empire's figures are seen as weak and the debut of the new season of Entourage drew an embarrassingly small audience, then Treme has gone off the scale: Friday's opening episode of the post-hurricane Katrina New Orleans drama averaged a sad 66,000 viewers, and that number includes timeshifting and HD viewers. By comparison FX in the same timeslot had True Blood (another HBO drama) that pulled an audience 236,000 for a mid-season episode.
Whilst Sky may argue that it is targetting a demographic measured by quality (A,B,C1) rather than quantity I'm not sure advertisers will agree.
HBO's next big debut on Sky Atlantic is Game of Thrones which launches on April 18th, the day after it debuts in the US. The audience numbers for that will be interesting as it's close enough to the US release to minimise the impact of those who download shows, but of course that also means that it won't come with much US acclaim (or hype) to get the general UK public's attention. Expect the Sky marketing to hit overdrive again as it tries to secure an audience to appeal to advertisers.
BTW, Treme is available on DVD/BluRay in the US from March 29th. Expect Boardwalk Empire as a box set in the summer, shortly before season two arrives Stateside.

February 21, 2011

BBC2 HD and 3D plans

A while back BBC HD boss Danielle Nagler promised that all BBC channels will eventually be simulcast in Hi Def, but it now appears that the next to appear, BBC2 HD, won't launch until at least 2013 because of cost constraints and some technical issues. 'The BBC’s commitment to HD is not in debate - there is no one here who doesn’t believe we should move towards it pretty rapidly - but it has to happen along with everything else the BBC does,' Nagler told Broadcast.
It's also reported that all new BBC content will have to be produced in high definition by April 1st this year, but I thought that the news output, Match of the Day and of course the older repeated shows weren't shooting in HD until next year, so I'm a wee bit confused on that.
And if you want to know about Nagler and the BBC's plans for 3D, there's an interview with her on 3D Focus.

February 20, 2011

February 19, 2011

TiVo calls

If, like me, you are a Virgin Media VIP50 and you haven't had a call yet - you are not alone. The poll I ran on this blog over the last week had only 248 respondents who had taken a call offering them TiVo. Whilst not everyone who visits here necessarily responds to the polls or may not be registered for TiVo, that's a pretty low count. Polls on VMHD normally register over 700 votes, and when you consider that the site had almost 9,000 unique visitors whilst the poll was open that's a pretty low percentage VM are calling - 2.78% to be precise.
Hardly scientific of course, but it does at least put things in some sort of perspective and maybe those of us who haven't been called should feel less hard done by.
Meanwhile, over on Cable Forum, the early recipients are reporting installs. Lucky swine...

February 18, 2011

TiVo first impression: "Bloody Amazing"

Here's Mercelous on his TiVo install:
My impressions of TiVo since having it installed yesterday is, its bloody amazing. It's very quick looks stunning in HD and there is so much to look at. I really am blown away by it. Trouble is it now makes my V+ guide look like analogue. Looking through character profiles and finding films and tv shows weeks ahead and being able to set them to record is fantastic. It is already recommending stuff and being able to rate shows is good. The remote is great and is heavy but in a good way. The only fault I have is that when you set your picture HD resolution it does not save it no matter what and keeps reverting back to 1080i. Hope it will be ironed out soon. You do get to choose 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i, or all of them and 1080p which is not yet available. There is also no BBC red button yet. The box is silent and looks good. I was told by the guys that I was part of 6000 that are testers to iron out bugs and that it is being updated on a regular basis. The install took an hour and it can take 24 hours for the guide to fully install as there is so much info to download to the box. So I really think its worth the money. Honestly once you get it you will never regret it. Well done Virgin. STUNNING.

February 17, 2011

Neil Berkett talks about Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media

Another piece from The Guardian, who are giving Virgin Media a fair bit of coverage today:
Neil Berkett, the Virgin Media chief executive, agreed that Sky Atlantic is "a great product". But he admitted that Virgin Media customers would not be getting the channel "anytime soon".
"[BSkyB] have an unrealistic price on the product," Berkett said. "It is a great product but I don't want to get into a war of words, I did note Mike Darcey's comments. I understand the position they are taking."
When asked about Virgin Media's relationship with BSkyB, Berkett described it as "cordial", despite the two competing pay-TV companies often finding themselves at loggerheads over industry issues.
However, he also said that consumers were "suffering" from BSkyB's dominance of UK rights to Hollywood movies, currently the subject of a Competition Commission investigation. "Our view is consistent, it is the same in respect to sports and movies," he said. "Sky has control and consumers are suffering as a result of it."

More on the Virgin Media 2010 full year and Q4 results

Here is Neil Berkett's presentation to Investors
And here is the coverage and commentary from The Guardian on the TV numbers from Virgin announced this morning:
Virgin Media reported a net loss of £141.4m in 2010, a huge improvement over the £357.8m loss – adjusted following the sale of Virgin Media TV to BSkyB last July – it posted in 2009. In the fourth quarter the company said net income moved £37.1m into the black, compared with a £94.4m adjusted loss for the same period in 2009.

Overall, Virgin Media added 76,600 new customers last year – up from just 17,600 in 2009, with 17,100 added in the final quarter. The company's total subscriber base is now 4.8 million. "Triple play" customers – those taking three products from Virgin – grew slightly to 63% of the subscriber base. "Quad-play" customers were 11.8% of the total.
Within its total customer base Virgin was able to sign up 44,100 new customers to its broadband service in the fourth quarter, taking the total number of subscribers to 4.29 million. The company said that more than 780,000 customers take its high-speed 20Mb or 50Mb broadband services, with a year-on-year growth rate of 40%.
In the fourth quarter, almost one in three new customers signing up for broadband opted for a higher speed service. A total of 118,000 customers have signed up for the 50Mb service, and there was a 29% increase in sign-ups between the third and fourth quarters last year.
Virgin Media's TV base increased by just 12,100 in the fourth quarter, taking the total number of subscribers to 3.78 million. Virgin Media's on-demand service, which is being upgraded to a new TiVo-powered service, is used by 64% of customers with average monthly views of content at 87m.
Virgin Media managed to sign up 91,900 new HD customers in the fourth quarter. Overall, Virgin Media has 1.5 million subscribers to HD, approximately 39% of its total customer base.
The company also added about 60,000 customers taking its Sky premium suite of channels, taking the total to about 780,000. "It is amazing what a little help from Ofcom can do," said the Virgin Media chief executive, Neil Berkett, referring to a ruling made by the media regulator in April last year ordering Sky to cut the price it charges rivals for its sports channels to stimulate pricing competition.

Virgin's Q4 2010 results published

Full Virgin Media Press Release here.
Here are words relating to the TV service:
Leading in next generation digital entertainment
At the end of the year we launched our leading entertainment service powered by TiVo, with its game-changing interface that brings together the best of TV, on demand and the web. This is served by our unparalleled network which ensures a superb viewing experience no matter whether in Standard Definition (SD), HD or 3D. As the service utilizes dedicated spectrum and has its own internal modem - unlike any other existing or prospective internet connected TV service in the UK - the user's viewing choice will not come at the expense of their broadband connection, so households can watch and surf online simultaneously without interruption. This also means that customers are able to watch what they want immediately rather than waiting for time-consuming downloads.
Our existing TV service stands apart from other services that also offer hundreds of traditional SD and HD channels because of the instant access our customers have to an unparalleled library of on demand programming. During the quarter we added FIVE's catch-up service to complete our roster of on demand players from all the UK's terrestrial broadcasters, becoming the first and only platform to provide this.
In the four years since the formation of Virgin Media over a million more families are now regularly enjoying on demand TV, with reach increasing to 64% of our TV customers in Q4. Collectively they watched nearly 900m shows during 2010, an increase of more than 10% over the previous year. Average monthly views in Q4 were 87m, an increase of 17% from the same period in 2009.
We have also added more content to our ground-breaking 3D on demand TV service as it has become available. Customers can enjoy a variety of 3D films, such as 'Despicable Me' and 'The Hole', and 3D documentaries and animations. We continue to work with content creators to source the best programming.
We grew our TV base by 12,100 customers in the quarter to a total of 3.8m. Of these customers, 39%, or 1.48m, are able to experience HD after we added a further 91,900 HD customers in the quarter.

February 16, 2011

Virgin email to customers this evening

No raffle ticket or phone call for me today, but this just arrived in my In Box:
The countdown is on!

A little while ago, you let us know you were interested in our new TV service, Virgin Media TV powered by TiVo®. We’re delighted you’re as excited about the new service as we are! We’re looking forward to bringing it to you as soon as we can. In fact, that’s why we’re getting in touch.

Here's the latest...

The new TiVo service will be available to the general public in the next few months. But you won’t have to wait that long to get your hands on it.

At Virgin Media, our customers come first. That’s why we’d like to offer you the chance to order your TiVo service before it goes on sale to the rest of the Great British public which we expect to be in April. What’s more, we’ll make sure you’re first in the queue to have your service installed, with priority installation, just for Virgin Media customers.

If you’re interested, you don’t need to do a thing. We’ll be in touch around the end of March to let you know how you can get the TiVo service before it goes on general sale. For now, you can sit back, relax and wait for all the good stuff to come to you. 
Other recipients have reported that their emails say throughout March. Still no mention of pricing for existing customers though.

Virgin results on Thursday 17th

Virgin Media  will be announcing its Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2010 results on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 7am UK time.

Virgin TiVo raffle

Paul has just commented on an earlier post regarding Virgin Media calling TiVo prospects:
Not had a call, but have received a mailshot from them today with a 'raffle' ticket with a unique reference number on it.

You need to register it to be in the draw to be one of 1000 lucky winners who will win Tivo free for a year.
For those of us still waiting (and it would appear to be that the vast majority who registered an interest haven't been contacted yet) this would be worth doing, even if we still don't know for certain how much TiVo is going to cost existing customers and at what bands a subscription will be levied.
One comment I'll make: the longer this protracted roll out takes, the more tempted I am to upgrade my V+ with a 1tb hard disc. I know that's a bad bad thing but I'm not recording half the stuff I want to in HD as 20 hours of recordings is simply insufficient. First "alternative means" for viewing Boardwalk Empire, now I'm considering this. It's a slippery slope...

February 13, 2011

Virgin Media TiVo sites

If you are looking for a UK TiVo forum to supplement the Cable Forum Boards, try the TiVo UK Community Board.
Also, there are some very interesting new videos of Virgin Media's TiVo in action over on the UKTivo blog. I've pasted one in here, but visit the blog for more.

February 10, 2011

New "poll": have you had a call from VM

I've just posted up a poll with a difference: I'm trying to guage how many VM customers have been called regarding TiVo installations. So, if you have had a call offering a TiVo install (free or paid-for) can you please let me know what TV package you're on? That way we can see how many of the blog's readers have been called and if there's a pattern relating to TV packages to the seemingly arbitrary calls.

Virgin Media, Sky, and Sky Atlantic (cont.)

I read this and thought it was a good insight into the current stand-off between Virgin Media and Sky over Sky Atlantic. It was posted by Chris, one of the Cable Forum Team - and you can read the ensuing discussion in the Sky Atlantic Cable Forum thread.
Last time round, Sky wanted Virgin to pay a price that reflected Sky's investment in programming on Sky One (in essence they wanted Virgin to help them pay the king's ransom it cost to steal Lost off C4). This flew in the face of the conventional means by which these things are normally agreed (you pay for a channel based on its popularity, not based on what its owner has lavished on it).

Sky might just have got away with this tactic had they not only recently used the popularity argument to negotiate a vastly reduced rate for carriage of the channels VM owned at the time. VM was rightly able to point out that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Nevertheless, Sky threw its toys out the pram and spent a few weeks being faced with the reality of ratings sliced by a third and advertisers making dangerous noises about wanting lower rates for slots on Sky One before eventually cutting a deal that essentially valued Sky Basics and VM's channels on the same basis. All of which is now a bit academic as VM has sold the lot to Sky anyway.
As you say, Sky won't be as worried about advertising rates this time round because the channel has never been on VM, so nobody is going to complain that viewing figures are lower than they thought they would be. On the other hand, I would not be at all surprised if once again Sky's valuation of the channel in negotiations with VM has more to do with what Sky has spent on it rather than what it's actually worth in ratings terms.

February 08, 2011

Another TiVo Lucky 1000

Posted on Virgin Media's Sofa Forum by James Skelton

Thanks for your interest in our TiVo powered service. We've had an amazing response since we launched this product.
You may have heard that some lucky Virgin Media customers have been sent a TiVo remote control alongside a special offer. These people were randomly selected from a group of our longest serving customers. But don't worry if you weren't one of the recipients of this offer - we've got something else up our sleeve. We'll soon be offering all our VIP 50, VIP 20 and XL TV customers (who also have Virgin Media Broadband and Phone) the chance to become one of 1000 lucky customers to win a special TiVo deal and we're continuing to prioritise our existing customers to make sure they are the first people in the country to get a hold of this fantastic new service.
We'll also be doing something special for our non XL TV customers that have registered their interest online at www.virginmedia.com/tivo. We've been busy collating all of their details and will be in touch very soon to let them know when they will be able to get the service. We'll be making sure that they get a chance to get their hands on TiVo in a pre-sale window, before we make this available to the general public. But more about that soon.
We know that people are excited about getting our new TV service, and we're working hard to make sure our customers find out about the great deals that will be available and get installed as quickly as possible.

Sky Movies profits criticised by Competition Commission

According to the front page of the FT today:
"The Competition Commission has reported that BSB is making “excess profits” on its Sky Movies service, prompting analysts to say that the broadcaster will be forced to cut its margins.
BSkyB’s exclusive deal with the six big Hollywood studios will come under scrutiny, as will the wholesale price that the company charges other broadcasters to show its 10 film channels."
Sky of course had a similar finding regarding the charges it made to Virgin Media for Sky Sports, but did we see the price we pay drop? No we didn't. Whilst it will be interesting to see how this pans out (and it probably has months to go yet) I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for discounts.

February 07, 2011

TiVo - some early first impressions

From a Comment posted in response to my previous post

Starting with the positives on Virgin's TiVo:
  1. The suggestions folder - based on your thumbs up & down, the box will start making recommendatons of programmes it thinks you will like, it will record them for you, then the choice is yours to watch or not to watch.
  2. Search & Browse - being able to search for an actor, tv show or film.
  3. The 28-day programme guide - the guide shows up to 14 days, but in the search & browse section it will show programmes up to 28 days in advance, it does not give the date & time but you can set it to record on here as well. If you have actually missed the programme you can set it to record and it will record it the next time it is on.
  4. Recording - as well as the normal record function and the bit mentioned above, when you do a series link you get the option of how many episodes to record from 5 to all episodes, just the first showing or all showings, set extra time before and after (but unlike the V+ it is more than just 10 minutes) - set for manual deletion or automatic when the disc is getting close to being full.
  5. If you make a mistake and delete a programme in error, you now have the option in the deleted folder to restore the programme
And some less positives:
  1. It looks as if there is no page up and down function, however if you press the channel up & down button, this operates the page up & down function. Had to find this out by messing with the remote as it does not mention it on the screen.
  2. When deleting a programme it is a long winded process - delete, confirm - the go to the deleted folder to delete again, but you when doing this you can only do one programme at a time, there should be the option to do a full delete of everything in the folder.
  3. When scrolling through the TV guide it always defaults back to the first channel on whichever section you are on, which can be a bit of a pain.
  4. There is also a bit of an issue with having to put your pin number in on the sports channels, example ODI cricket because the programme started after 2200 hours again this can be a pain but it something that VM are working on.
More promised soon. He also says that the video is not showing the finished article, there is still a fair bit of testing going on and that the menu is much faster than what you can see on this video clip. Most of the menu is HD as well.
Cheers, mate!

Virgin's TiVo in action

The TiVo blog has posted this video clip which shows the performance of the Virgin Media TiVo in real time. Not too bad - about on a par with the real time videos of the US TiVo Premier I've seen on YouTube. Nice graphics. Shame the video doesn't show the legendary TiVo search functionality in action.

February 06, 2011

TiVo dimensions

I've had a number of people enquire about the dimensions of the forthcoming TiVo box. Thanks to Square Eyes for the info:

L - 14.5" (370mm)
W - 9.5" (240mm)
D - 2.5" (65mm)

How TVs convert and display clear HD footage

Not for the faint-hearted, but if you're intrigued by how HD happens check out this piece on Tech Radar: The Complete Guide To HD

February 05, 2011

1000 VIP50s get TiVo...free...for life UPDATED

There's a somewhat odd and long thread over on Cable Forum (and a smaller one on Digital Spy) about 1000 VIP50 customers receiving a free, personalised TiVo remote this morning that entitles them to a free TiVo and service for life.
I haven't received one (I'm a VIP50, signed up my interest in TiVo on the day it was announced) and the whole thing doesn't make a great deal of sense to me, especially when I read that some recipients of the remotes hadn't even heard of (let alone registered for) TiVo and weren't VIP50s.
So maybe all of us VIP50s will get the same deal but we're not being sent the personalised remotes. Let's hope so.
Here's an email from Virgin Media on the Lucky 1000:
Thanks for your email, we are always grateful to receive feedback from our customers. I am very sorry that you feel disappointed by our Tivo roll out, I can assure you that we thought long and hard about how best to delight our customer base, and planned our customer communications very carefully. The first customers to get their hands on our new Tivo product was our staff last December, we are now in the process of going out to segments of our customer base and we will continue to do so until April when we open the offer out to new customers. We believe we have developed an offer for existing customers that is very compelling, and is better than the offer being made available to new customers, this is a core principle for us. The only new customers we have approached so far, as you indicated in your email, are some of the Tivo series 1 customers, and this is for some very specific contractual reasons which could not be avoided.
Thanks and regards,
Executive Director
Digital Entertainment
Virgin Media
So don't worry if you're a VIP50 and haven't received anything yet - it's early days and there's more of this type of activity planned.

More Sky Atlantic viewing figures

More ratings info on SkyAtlantic (posted Friday):
The launch of the seventh series of HBO drama Entourage barely managed to flick the ratings needle with an average of just 18,000 viewers between 10.30pm and 11pm. The second episode fared slightly better, despite the late night slot from 11.05pm to 11.45pm, with 27,000 viewers.
The last series of Entourage aired on ITV2 and averaged about 200,000 viewers per episode. The final episode hit 300,000.
Sky Atlantic's top-rating show last night was a re-run of the 10-year-old pilot episode of Six Feet Under, with 53,000 viewers.
What's a "fair price" for that I wonder?
What I find astonishing is the amount Sky is obviously spending on marketing the channel (posters are everywhere in London, and the press coverage is huge) and yet it's delivering these, frankly, pathetic numbers at the height of their advertising campaign. Strewth.  
Boardwalk's figures will take a tumble as it takes about four episodes to get going and many will give up before it hits its stride, and I don't believe anything on Atlantic's schedules will pick up an audience mid-run. HBO drama needs to be seen from the start - it would be like reading a novel from page 200...
Advertisers will not be impressed. If only they could reach an extra 3.7m homes it might stand a chance...

Interesting TiVo thread

Check this out on Cable Forum: One in a thousand

February 04, 2011

Sky: "Atlantic will not be on Virgin Media any time soon"

From The Guardian:
The BSkyB chief operating officer, Mike Darcey, warned Virgin Media subscribers who want to watch The Sopranos and Mad Men not to expect Sky Atlantic on their EPG any time soon.
Darcey indicated that Sky was in talks with Virgin Media about a carriage deal to get Sky Atlantic onto its cable TV service.
But he implied that the two companies were some way off agreeing what Virgin Media might pay to carry Sky Atlantic, saying the cable company "would love Sky Atlantic and love it on the cheap". "I think it was offered at a very reasonable price," Darcey said.
"Negotiating with Virgin Media is too strong a word. The team went down ... and made quite a substantial pitch [and] explained what we thought was a fair price. Thus far they have not been persuaded,"
He added that he felt that Virgin Media's "enthusiasm" for content had always been "a little bit lukewarm" – making reference to the sale Living TV to BSkyB last year and the current process to get rid of its 50% stake in Gold and Dave operator UKTV.
Hmmm. Well, if you were looking to sell content and were in negotiations, you would hardly say that you were asking an unfair price or that Virgin were willing to pay through the nose, would you?

February 02, 2011

Sky Atlantic - just TOO exclusive?!!

Interesting couple of facts here: on Feb 1 this blog had a record number of visitors, the majority reaching here by Googling "Virgin Media Sky Atlantic". Over 5000 visitors yesterday alone, more than double the usual traffic and the highest in VMHD's three years. So there's definitely interest in us getting Sky Atlantic - I'm not going to apologise for the continuing coverage on it.
Maybe less impressive are the actual viewing figures for the opening night of the Sky Exclusive. For all the advertising millions spent, posters and column inches devoted to the launch, first night was very much a damp squib, even the debut of Boardwalk Empire barely matching a CSI:NY repeat on Five USA. Here's The Guardian's take on the debut:
With a price tag of $18m, the Martin Scorsese prohibition-set drama is reportedly the most expensive pilot ever made. It was also one of the most hyped. Kicking off Sky's HBO-packed brand new channel, Sky Atlantic – you may have read about it – it debuted with 438,000 viewers between 9pm and 10.30pm.
The Steve Buscemi drama was followed by another US show, Blue Bloods, a cop drama starring the actor once upon a time known as Magnum PI, Tom Selleck, which began with 225,000 viewers at 10.30pm.
Boardwalk Empire just snuck into the top 20 non-terrestrial programmes, ahead of ITV2's The Vampire Diaries, with 431,000 viewers and tied with CSI:NY on Five USA, which also had 438,000 viewers.
The most popular digital show, can you guess what it was yet? – was BBC3's EastEnders, with 767,000 viewers at 10pm.
Bear in mind that the new channel is only available in the homes of Sky's 10 million subscribers – where as the likes of BBC3, ITV2 and Five USA are in more than 90% of the 26 million or so UK TV homes.
Sky Atlantic kicked off with an introductory hour showcasing some of the channel's content, Let the Stories Begin, which averaged 147,000 viewers between 8pm and 9pm.
Maybe it's just too damned exclusive to get the audiences to justify the investment? At least we can hope that those very low audience numbers will give Mr Berkett's negotiators a better hand when negotiating with Sky over Atlantic carriage on cable.

February 01, 2011

No Sky Atlantic but...

According to this week's Radio Times we won't be seeing Sky Atlantic on VM soon (but I think we already knew that). "We do not have any immediate plans to launch Sky Atlantic but we're definitely looking at more launches in 2011 amd are currently in discussions with various content providers, including Sky." Radio Times was told by Virgin Media.
At least we still have Sky Living HD - there had been speculation on some of the forums that we were losing that, but it is still on 110. Good to see Sky investing in some better programming on Sky Living - Bedlam starts next week. Also, Mad Dogs which starts Philip Glenister, John Simm and Marc Warren is on Sky 1 HD next week, not Sky Atlantic as I've read elsewhere.

Digital Spy review of TiVo

Digital Spy has reviewed Virgin Media's TiVo: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/news/a301229/virgins-tivo-platform-the-future-of-tv.html. It's a curiously muted review - perhaps not surprising as I have often thought DS editorial has a heavy Sky bias - and it lacks the actual release date, which is disappointing.

VM upgrades Broadband XL to 30Mbs and reduces price

Press Release extract: Virgin Media the UK's leading broadband provider, today announced the launch of a new 30Mb broadband service, due to replace the existing 20Mb service from February 1st. Unlike other fibre optic broadband services based on VDSL technology, such as BT Infinity, Virgin Media customers can expect to receive speeds close to the stated headline 30Mb speed1, and aren't subject to the "speed lottery" that plagues broadband delivered over telephone wires.

The new 'XL' service will cost just £18.50 per month, down from the previous price of £20 when taken with a Virgin Media home phone.
Existing customers already on 'XL' broadband at 20Mb are being invited to upgrade to the new 'XL' at 30Mb from 1st February, with only a one-off upgrade fee of £30 to cover activation and exchange of their old modem and router for Virgin Media's state-of-the-art 'SuperHub'3. The 'SuperHub' combined DOCSIS 3.0 modem and router is capable of Gigabit wired connectivity as well as dual-band 'N' WiFi for the ultimate in wireless connectivity to make the most of Virgin Broadband throughout the home.