December 27, 2012

The Hobbit - a Blinkered Journey

Sadly, my local Picturehouse's 2D screenings of the first of The Hobbit trilogy were few and far between, resulting in me having to yet again don the shades for the "more immersive" 3D experience.
Is it me or does watching a film through those glasses make the experience feel more blinkered than expansive?
I noticed this feeling of my vision being restricted quite markedly when seeing Thor last year and put it down to the awful retro-fitting of 3D effects on that film, but I felt it again this year, notably with The Hobbit and also with Avengers Assemble and Prometheus. I wear black rimmed glasses anyway, so you wouldn't expect the glasses themselves to be the problem, but with the 3D specs on I'm feeling like I'm seeing less movie. It's like watching a 4:3 ratio movie on a large widescreen TV - it feels like you're missing action, that the picture is being constricted and constrained. Certainly, once I saw Thor and Avengers in 2D on my TV in HD (the latter on Blu Ray) it felt a far more natural, immersive experience.
So, most definitely still not a 3D fan. Mercifully, two of the year's better (and more financially successful) blockbusters were spared the third dimension - Skyfall and Dark Knight Rises were shot in 2D and were all the better for it. (And don't get me started on Jackson's use of 48fps - just because you can do something clever doesn't mean you should.)

A happy new year to all of this blog's visitors. Hopefully VM will add some decent HD channels next year and there will be plenty to read about here. Toodle pip!

December 22, 2012

Virgin Media and social media in 2012

From Customer Services' Alex Brown's blog

New channels added - but don't get too excited now

  • CBS Drama is a new to Virgin Media in December on channel 197 and is available in the XL pack.
  • Al Jazeera English is a 24 hour international news and current affairs channel from the Middle East. It's in the M+ pack and is on channel 622
  • Al Jazeera Arabic is a 24 hour Arabic language channel providing international news and current affairs. Al Jazeera Arabic  is available on channel 836 and in the M+ pack. 
  • UMP Movies brings a touch of Bollywood on channel number 830 and in the M+ pack.
  • Sky Atlantic HD features the outstanding drama and comedy series from the US, including exclusive HBO programming, exciting new UK productions and old favourites like Mad Men. You can find it on Sky channel 108...but it still isn't on Virgin Media. You pays your money and makes your choice...

December 02, 2012

VM TiVo Net Remote application for Windows

Andy Wheeler has now updated his VM TiVo Net Remote application for Windows. 

The enhancements to this latest version (V1.00) are:

* Can maximise the application so that its easier to Navigate the TV Guide
* TV Guide now uses the new TV Anywhere TV Guide
* Button to navigate to the Manage TiVo section on the TV Anywhere website
* Minimise to system tray
* Added ability to put the box into Standby and out of Standby
* Jump directly to My Shows correctly
* Prevent more than one instance of the application running at once
* From the File Menu specify whether to start the application in a minimized state.

December 01, 2012

Virgin Media TV Anywhere

Has anyone else experienced degraded wifi performance from their router after connecting the TiVo to it? I connected my router to the TiVo via ethernet so that I could have a play with the TV Anywhere on the iPad and found my wifi coverage intermittently dropping. Unplugged the ethernet and normal service was resumed. Odd.
I quite like the App but find the limited channel playback options on the iPad annoying and the picture quality on my MacBook so-so. I don't use my iPad as the remote mainly because it doesn't control the volume on my TV. Overall I'd say it's pretty handy - good for setting and reviewing recordings and deleting older recordings  but I think Sky's Apps are superior.
What do you guys think?
No further news on extra channels except for Media Boy's reporting that there will be no channels added in December, so that December 9th rumour about the arrival of Sky Atlantic, News HD and Sports News HD looks like it's a duffer. Makes that price increase next February even harder to swallow.

November 21, 2012

Sky Atlantic rumours resurface

According to'BSkyB will also focus on ... wholesaling Sky Atlantic, a TV channel that airs programming from the U.S.' Cable Forum poster ''grahamf'' has posted on Cable Forum that: ''The latest I am hearing from 2 different well placed sources is, that Virgin will be launching Sky News HD, Sky Sports News HD and Sky Atlantic on 9th December.''

November 10, 2012

Game of Thrones season 2 - no plans for Sky1 broadcast

Anyone enjoying the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones on Sky1 HD may be hoping for season two to be shown soon after. Sadly, that won't be happening - although there will be a second showing on Sky Atlantic, Sky won't be treating Virgin Media customers to the second series. I'm waiting for the box set release (likely to arrive early in the new year).

November 08, 2012

ANOTHER App? Virgin Media promise mobile calls at fixed line costs

Just days after TV Anywhere finally turns up, VM has announced another App is on the way, and this time it's for both iOS and Android. Virgin announced this week that it is to release a SmartCall app for iPhone and Android that makes calls using landline minutes, albeit only when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
"The intuitive app will automatically detect whether a SmartCall is possible and whether that call is included in their home phone talk plan," Virgin said in its announcement on Tuesday.
The app will make calls from abroad as well as within the UK (hmm, sounds like Skype). The app can be used on any mobile network.
But here's the catch: it's "coming soon", so don't expect it any time this year. The first to get the free app will be "select customers" identified via Virgin's Tickles customer extras programme, who will be able to sign up for SmartCall in the weeks running up to Christmas. The app will then be offered to all customers "some time in the first quarter of 2013".
Really? Pardon my cynicism but the wait for TV Anywhere suggests that may prove a might optimistic.

November 07, 2012

At last...

Virgin Media's TV Anywhere App for iPhone and iPad is released:
"The service is available to all Virgin TV customers at no extra cost, and can be enjoyed online through a web browser or on mobile/tablet devices (iOS initially, Android to follow in 2013) giving customers the ability to enjoy TV as well as fully manage their TiVo service when at work or out and about."

November 04, 2012

IMPORTANT: Series Link and WishList issue 3-4 Nov

From Virgin Media:
Your "New Only" Series Link and WishList recordings may fail this weekend. If you have changed the default setting for any Series Links or WishLists to record "New Only", we recommend that you change it back to "New & Reruns" to avoid missing new recordings over the weekend. If you have missed anything on channels from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, you may be able to find your show on Catch Up.
So check those recordings of Homeland, Downton Abbey et al are set for tonight (mine had gone missing, as had Fringe, Walking Dead and Elementary later in the week ahead, so best check 'em all.

October 31, 2012

TV Anywhere in action

Uploader dabozuk has disable embedding on this YouTube clip, but it's worth a look

And STILL no news on an actual release date!

October 25, 2012

TV Anywhere to include all of the Sky Basics

Interesting little footnote in Virgin Media CEO's presentation to Investors earlier this week that I've just noticed from the full transcript's Q&A:
" respect to TV Anywhere, it will launch with all of our – we have the PC and Mac rights for broadly all of our content. We don’t have quite that number of rights for the tablet. So, there will be some restricted rights. But it will include all of Sky basics initially. And we’re in conversation with Sky in respect to premiums and we’ll continue those conversations over the next six months as we look to renew our premium contract with them."
I'm wondering if the rumour of VM being "in talks with Sky about Sky Atlantic" is actually part of the Sky Premiums (Movies, Sports) negotiation/renewal discussions, which means that Atlantic, if it ever does come to cable, would be some point next year rather than anything before Christmas.
I don't know why the ITV HD channels launch is taking so long...sorry.

October 23, 2012

Virgin Media announce latest results (yawn)

Virgin has announced its results for Q3 2012, but those hoping for news of new channels or a date for the launch of the TiVo App will be sorely disappointed as TV barely gets a sniff in the announcement to Investors:

Net cable customer additions of 39,500 in the quarter, up from 6,300 
Churn down from 1.7% to 1.4% in the quarter
  •   Cable ARPU up 1.8% to £48.73 in the quarter
  •   On-going improvement of customer base mix in the quarter
    •   TiVo customers increased 205,900 to 1.14m; now 30% of TV base
    •   52,200 increase in the paying TV base
    •   Superfast broadband customers (30Mb and above) increased 452,900 to 1.8m, now 42% of broadband base
  •   Mobile revenue down 3.1% to £137m in the quarter
  •   Business division revenue up 9.5% to £169m in the quarter 

    ...the appeal of our TiVo service is driving pay TV growth. We added 205,900 more TiVo customers during the quarter to reach a total of 1.14m at the quarter-end, which represents 30% of our TV customer base. This uptake has helped to drive the overall number of paying TV customers, which increased by 52,200 in the quarter.
    While TiVo demand remained strong, we managed the mix between new and existing customers to optimise returns resulting in lower net additions than in the previous quarter. However, we achieved our highest ever TiVo gross additions from new customers in the third quarter, whilst migrations and cross-sell only accounted for around 48% of TiVo gross additions. This compares to around 60% of TiVo gross additions coming from migrations and cross-sell in the previous four quarters.
    In the coming weeks, we will be launching the latest enhancement to our Virgin Media TiVo service - Virgin TV Anywhere. This new development will allow our TV customers to stream live channels to their iPhone or iPad, with even more available on their PC, Mac or laptop, including thousands of hours of on demand content. The iPad and online versions will also allow Virgin Media TiVo customers to tap into their TiVo boxes to record shows, manage their recordings and change their series links.
    We also re-launched our on demand movie pay-per-view service as 'Virgin Movies'. The revitalised movie service offers over 500 of the latest films straight from the cinema as well as a massive catalogue of films available on-demand on TV or via the web with the online service available to everyone, including non-Virgin Media customers as well. 

October 20, 2012

More to US TV than Sky Atlantic alone

I've stumbled upon a website that shows which US series have been picked up by which UK channel, and also when a series is scheduled to debut. It's TV Wise's Acquisition Scorecard and it's worth checking out as it looks good to me. It doesn't have any info on reality series but otherwise looks pretty comprehensive.
Still no UK pick up by a channel on the most-lauded US show Breaking Bad? Not strictly true as Netflix has the first four series complete and half of the show’s fifth season about to launch (all eight episodes being available as a streaming service from Nov 1).
Shame it's only SD and I find Netflix's picture quality variable depending on what device you view it through, but if you fancy binging on all things Breaking Bad during a free month's trial of the service I can't think of a better way to see out the dark autumn evenings...

October 13, 2012

New to TiVo?

If you're new to TiVo then you may want to check out this blog's TiVo top tips post from last year. Some of the contributions in the Comments are well worth a read if you want to get the most from your box. And if anyone has anything further they've discovered, please share with a comment of your own on this post.

October 09, 2012

Virgin Q3 2012 results

I'll be stunned if we get 15 new HD channels. I think that the Retentions rep who talked to Snowy Brighton is probably working from Digital Spy rumours rather than any official news.
Anyway, any formal announcement regarding new channels and the release of the longest delayed App in Apple history is likely in the next week or so, as VM's Q3 results will be announced on October 23rd and Virgin in the past has announced new services in the week before Mr Berkett's results service.

TV Anywhere FAQ

Saw this on It looks like an official FAQ from Virgin for the TV Anywhere service

Q: When will the service be available?
A: The service will launch during Autumn 2012 and we expect to see a steady rollout of new features during 2013.
Q: Who is the service available to?
A: All customers will have access to watch Live TV and on Demand through the online service at Customers with iOS devices and TiVo can also download and use the application from the App store to take advantage of the advanced features of TiVo through their handset/tablet. Other devices to follow?
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The service is available for no extra cost for customers who subscribe to any of our great TV packages
Q: How many Live TV Channels will be available?
A: We are planning to have around 30 live channels for launch, with more coming soon after. The number of channels each customer can access depends on their TV package, as channels are aligned to the customer’s subscription.
Q: What Channels will be available, will there be sports?
A: There will be a variety of channels across a number of genres such as sports, kids, factual and general entertainment. Channel line-up may vary across devices depending on rights.
Q: Do you need to be a TiVo customer to access the Virgin TV Anywhere online?
A: No, all Virgin TV customers will be able to take advantage of Virgin TV Anywhere online, however customers with TiVo will also be able to use a range of extra tools to manage their TiVo boxes.
Q: Do you need to be a TiVo customer to access the Apps?
A: Yes, the Apps take advantage of many of the exciting features of TiVo which need a TiVo box at home in order to work properly. Customers without TiVo can still browse to watch our great content through our online service.
Q: Are there plans to launch an Android version? A: Absolutely! We are working on getting a version available for Android early next year.
Q: Will the service be available over mobile networks?
A: Accessing all of our great TiVo features will be available over any connection. Live TV and On Demand will work over any WiFi service either at home or away, but not outside of the UK.
Q: What video quality can be expected?
A: Because of our powerful network, video quality should be very good. The product uses something called ‘adaptive’ streaming technology which make sure the video is set to the best quality for the connection and equipment the customer is using. Typically content will be streamed at up to around 3MB.
Q: Can I stream TiVo recordings? A: This is something we are investigation for the future.

October 06, 2012

15 new HD channels in November?

With a continued silence from Virgin Media on any new channels this year, I'm hoping that a comment posted by Snowy Brighton on a post on this blog today isn't too wide of the mark:
"Spoken to retentions earlier to get an issue fixed with my BB. She asked is everything else ok and I mentioned the lack of ITV2 HD etc. She then told me that 15 new HD channels will launch next month but it hasn't been confirmed yet. However, she was using digital spy and VM forums as the source of information...but she did say that they have all been told 15 new channels to launch in November."
Here's hoping, but I'm not sure if her sources are 100% reliable. And Retentions aren't always fully informed.
I've also noticed the poster campaign for Sky Atlantic HD in London is promoting the channel as a Sky exclusive, but with an "also available on Sky Atlantic" in small print at the bottom, and no mention of that being exclusive. Let's hope that Virgin Media will be securing the SD version in the next few weeks - it has been a long and very frustrating wait.

October 03, 2012

BBC One HD to add three national variants, plus an update on BBC Two HD

From the BBC Blog:
BBC One HD for the nations
We will be launching BBC One HD for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland over the next few months. I’ll update you with exact dates when we have them confirmed. We are launching them across all of our broadcast platforms so the channels will be available subscription-free on Sky HD, Freeview HD, Virgin Media and Freesat HD at the same position in the EPG where BBC One HD is currently found. As with our other nations and regional channels on satellite, the nations HD services won’t carry audio description. So we will be listing the current version of BBC One HD in the 900s on Sky HD and Freesat HD so that viewers in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland will still be able to access audio description.
If you live in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland, you should find that the service appears automatically from launch if you have an HD satellite or cable service. If you have Freeview HD, you may well find that your TV or set-top-box retunes itself to pick up the channel. If not, you will need to do a re-tune after the new service has launched. Help with this can be found on Whichever platform you use, if you have scheduled recordings on BBC One HD, please check them after your new national HD service launches to make sure you don’t miss any episodes of your favourite programmes.
When I mentioned in my previous blog that preparations for the launch of these services were underway, a number of readers posted comments querying why the BBC has chosen to launch BBC One HD for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland instead other BBC TV channels in HD. So I thought I’d include an explanation of that in this main post. At its heart, it comes down to striking a balance between the different technical and cost considerations on DTT compared with satellite.
•  Technical: On DTT, we are constrained in terms of the space available to launch services in HD, whereas on satellite, the capacity is there…at a price.
•  Cost: On satellite, it costs essentially the same to launch an HD service whether it is a pan-UK TV channel, like BBC Three or BBC Four, or a national or regional variant of BBC One HD. However, on DTT, it is somewhat cheaper to launch a national or regional variant, as we tailor the network in that part of the UK to point to the new feed.

So with limited DTT spectrum and limited funds, our expansion of HD has focused on the nations versions of BBC One HD.
One reader pointed out that there are a number of English regions that have larger populations than the nations, and asked why they weren’t prioritised. Population size is one factor we have borne in mind. However, another key factor is the length of time that the BBC One schedule in that part of the UK is different from a “network” feed. For English regions, this time is mostly made up by the regional news bulletins. However, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the schedule can vary significantly from network particularly in peak time. So this launch of the HD services for the nations will help to make BBC One HD more relevant to its viewers in the nations and more true to the SD service the BBC broadcasts.
One other reader suggested BBC Two HD as a priority, and I’m pleased to confirm that plans announced earlier this year to convert BBC HD into BBC Two HD are progressing towards completion next year.
Finally, some readers were curious to know how we planned to fit BBC HD and four versions of BBC One HD into a single transponder without messing up picture quality. The answer is that we’re not. We have bought a new DVB-S2 transponder (DSat8) alongside the existing DSat4. Each of these transponders will carry two versions of BBC One HD and DSat4 will also carry BBC HD, as it does now. (We are evaluating options for the spare capacity on DSat8.) My esteemed colleagues in BBC Research & Development have put a great deal of painstaking work into the configurations of these two transponders to try to match the picture quality of each version of BBC One HD to the one we have at the moment, and maintain BBC HD’s picture quality, for which I am very grateful.

BBC change Red Button services

From Tom Williams, Development Editor for red button and dual screen in BBC Vision
Over the next few weeks, there will be some changes made to the BBC's red button service. I'd like to explain briefly what these changes are, why they are taking place and what they mean for viewers. I also want to share our exciting plans for how we are reinventing the red button for the future, bringing audiences with internet connected TV's the best BBC content, multiple video streams and interactive services by still pressing red.
What changes are being made and why?
On 15th October the video component of BBC Red Button on Sky, FreeSat and Virgin Media will be reduced from five to one stream, bringing it in line with our Freeview offer. We are doing this because these services rely entirely on linear broadcast technologies, which are not cost-effective for an interactive service like the red button. At the end of this post, I've summarised the background to the decision and provided links to relevant documents which expand on the reasoning behind reducing the number of video streams.
What does this mean for red button?
Firstly, this change in no way signals the demise of BBC Red Button. The BBC is committed to maintaining a vibrant and popular red button service. 20 million people a month press red on the BBC and our ambition is to develop the service and increase the size of our audience.
BBC Red Button will continue to support a wide range of television and radio output, from big events like Wimbledon and Glastonbury to more niche offerings such as triathlon or BBC Four's archive collections.
This autumn's schedule will be as rich as ever. We'll see the return of the Strictly Come Dancing live commentary and a new play-along game for Antiques Roadshow. BBC Sport output will include Formula One and extended coverage of UK Championship Snooker; there's more live music to look forward to from 1Xtra and Radio 2, and for children we've got a real treat from CBBC's Wolfblood.
Of course, the reduction in video streams will have an impact; we won't be able to offer the choice of coverage we have previously and big events will no longer be multi-screen on red button. This will be a disappointment for many viewers, particularly sports fans, but I'm pleased to say that content previously on red button will be available on BBC Online and we are developing new ways of bringing enhanced coverage of major events to your televisions in the future.
Reinventing the Red Button
Red button is central to our vision of the future of television. Even though video streams will be reduced on Sky, FreeSat and Virgin Media, we are reinventing red button for the future. In June this year, my colleague Daniel Danker outlined our plan to bring the best of BBC Red Button together with the best of BBC Online on your television - something we're calling Connected Red Button. This will take advantage of new web-based technologies that deliver richer, more visually-enticing programmes. New functions like 'live restart' will be introduced directly to your TV, meaning that next time you come in halfway through The Apprentice, you can simply skip back to the start of the programme. Or, if you don't like what's on, find your favourite programme in BBC iPlayer or catch up with the latest news and sport live and on-demand, all on your TV.
I believe Connected Red Button will be a real step forward for audiences and will lay the foundations for new creative opportunities; new ways of thinking about television and radio programmes.
The first version of the Connected Red Button launches later this year. Look out for more details soon.
I hope this short post gives you an understanding of the changes we're making to the BBC Red Button and gives you a sense of the exciting things to come. Our goal is to create the best possible TV experience for our viewers in a way that is cost effective and flexible, enabling us to update the service with new functionality in the future. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Why are we waiting?

Sky...believe in getting there first. I can't believe it has taken Virgin Media so long to release the TiVo App for UK customers. My first post on the TiVo App was last almost two years ago and we still have yet to see it. But Sky has ads on TV and in the press promoting its App and catch-up services now, whereas with VM it's still "coming soon". CEO Neil Berkett promised September 2012 but we are still waiting in October. (And don't get me started on the "2013 promise of an Android version)

September 19, 2012

"BSkyB does not have a monopoly in the UK pay-TV movie market"

According to the Competition Committee's report from August "BSkyB does not have a monopoly in the UK pay-TV movie market". Whilst that may be literally true with services like BlinkBox, LoveFilm and Netflix now available in the UK, it's not true of new movies with the announcement that Sky has now secured exclusive UK rights to new releases from all of the "big six" Hollywood studios (Warner Bros, Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Universal Studios).
So Sky will have the UK rights to the films for more than a year before rivals such as Netflix and Amazon-owned LoveFilm. There are exceptions such as the per per view services from BT Vision and Virgin Movies, but Sky has the subscription side 100% sewn up. It will be impossible for the fledgling services to compete.
Different game, same story...

September 15, 2012

Spotify - free Virgin Media year is up

If, like me, you signed up for a free year of Spotify Premium through Virgin Media you'll find that if you want to continue with the service you now need to pay. £9.99 a month to continue the Premium service, £4.99 for the Unlimited (no ads, but no mobile option either) or you can stick with the free service with those pesky ads every few tracks. Details at Spotify.
Which is fair enough - the original offer was last August so I have had a couple of weeks' extra at no cost. Somewhat surprised that neither VM nor Spotify emailed me about it, but the whole thing's been pretty half-hearted by Virgin Media from the start. And there are still occasional issues with the service streaming over the VM network, especially for Sonos users.

September 11, 2012

ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 HD all on their way

Media Boy's announced on his blog that the high def versions of ITV2, 3 and 4 are all coming to Virgin shortly. He's also confirmed that talks continue to secure Sky News and Sky Sports News both in HD and Sky Atlantic too (but only in SD). We were under embargo for a few weeks but MB's confirmed we're good to publish now.

September 10, 2012

New channels to be announced Tuesday, Sept 11th

Media Boy will post on his blog on September 11th (shortly after midday) the new channels he has been told are coming to Virgin Media.

September 07, 2012

VM TV Anywhere...first pictures

TechRadar has some iPad screen shots of the forthcoming ("Autumn") TV Anywhere app from Virgin. More details on TechRadar

Here's the TiVo remote on the iPad:

And the EPG:

And On Demand service

September 03, 2012

TCM HD launches, but on Sky only (for now) UPDATED

It's the movie channel for people with old pre-widescreen tellies, but from this week it's going HD and widescreen on Sky. TCM may not be everyone's cup of tea (in my book Film4 is superior, even if it does repeat too much) but with some HBO classics (Rome and Deadwood) and an extensive back catalogue of films from the archives it would be nice to have it on VM in HD too. I'll let you know if I hear anything. UPDATE: We may not have it in HD but the good news is TCM in standard def is now, at long last, in widescreen.

September 02, 2012

"Give us Sky Atlantic!" demand the VMHD masses

Okay, so maybe 250+ votes doesn't necessarily constitute a "mass", but last week's poll topper for the HD channel you want most was indeed Sky Atlantic, with the ITV 2, 3 and 4 high def offerings coming in a close second. Between them, these two were streets ahead of the competition and captured more than two thirds of more than 650 votes.
As I said when launching the poll there are some additional channels on their way that will hopefully appease some but I'm sworn to secrecy (as is Media Boy).

September 01, 2012

New and returning series in HD

Homeland S2 - October on Channel 4HD
Dallas - Wed, September 5 at 9pm on Channel 5HD
An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Round - December on Sky1HD
Arrow - Autumn on Sky1HD
Glee - January, 2013 on Sky1HD
Modern Family S4 - September on Sky1HD
The Middle S4 - September on Sky1HD
Touch S2 - October on Sky1HD
Elementary - Autumn on Sky Living HD
Grimm S2 - Mon, October 22 at 9pm on Watch HD
Perception - Wed, October 3 at 9pm on Watch  HD
Red Dwarf X - Thu, October 4 at 9pm on Dave HD
The Glades S1 - Tue, Sept 11 on Alibi HD
The Office S7P2 - Wed, October 17 at 10pm on Comedy Central HD
Warehouse 13 S4 - Thu, September 6 at 9pm on Syfy HD

And here's a pleasant surprise: Game of Thrones S1 - Mon, September 10 at 10pm on Sky1 HD!

August 28, 2012

Paralympics in HD on Virgin Media

Not quite as extravagant as the BBC's HD channels for the Olympics but still pretty neat - you can enjoy Channel 4's Paralympics coverage on channel 142 (4 HD) and three additional HD channels 550, 551 and 552. There may be some coverage on E4 HD, and on the SD-only More 4.
(Weren't we promised More 4 HD earlier this year? It's not the channel it once was but still has some interesting programmes still.)

August 27, 2012

What HD channel do you want next?

I hear that VM are in negotiations for a few new HD channels this autumn, so I've added a quick poll for you to vote for which hi def channel can they add to make your day.

August 26, 2012

Virgin TV Anywhere to launch this autumn

What Hi-Fi this month has news on the long-delayed launch of Virgin TV Anywhere, the service that promises to give you access to your TV, on demand and manage your set top box from anywhere you're online (although not via 3G yet). Apple iOS first, Android in 2013.

The app aims to bring the Virgin TiVo experience to your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to browse the EPG, manage your recordings and change channels without affecting the image on your TV screen. And if you can't agree on what to watch, you can stream content straight to your portable device for a multiscreen experience.  
Due to launch in Autumn 2012, Virgin TV Anywhere is free and, theoretically, available to all Virgin customers. While any Virgin customer can access the new look website, the live TV and on-demand content that you can access will depend on your choice of Virgin TV package. The added extras via the website, such as setting your box to record, managing your recordings, and social aspects such as liking certain content will also be exclusive to Virgin TiVo customers.
The New Virgin TV Anywhere app will also be for Virgin TiVo customers only, bringing the sort of functionality familiar to SKY customers with the SKY Go app to Virgin TiVo users. The TV Anywhere app will launch on iPod touch, iPhone and iPad in Autumn 2012, though an Android app is in the pipeline for 2013. You'll need a wi-fi connection to watch content, though a 3G offering is on the wish list.

August 13, 2012

Tesco's BlinkBox brings Sky Atlantic series to the masses

Blinkbox, the online on demand TV and movies service owned by Tesco, has agreed a new deal with HBO to make new series from the leading US cable premium channels available to buy before they are out on DVD and Blu Ray. Sky retains the exclusive rights to broadcast new HBO programming on television and offer them via Sky Atlantic, BlinkBox has secured exclusive rights to make HBO series available to purchase through its digital distribution platform. Series available include: Game of Thrones (Seasons 1 & 2) Boardwalk Empire (Season 1 & 2) True Blood (Seasons 1-4, usually broadcast on FX) Treme (Seasons 1-2). It's not just HBO either: season 5 (and previous seasons) of AMC's Mad Men are also available.
BlinkBox is currently on Macs, PCs, iPad, LG and Samsung TVs, XBox 360 and PS3. More details at
From quick look I've had at Game of Thrones it looks like a streaming service rather than download, but there's no limit to the number of times you can watch. No mention of HD so I suspect it is SD only, not sure of the quality. First seasons of GoT is £17.99 or £1.89 per episode, which is pretty good. Season 2 won't be on disc to buy until next spring, so that's quite a coup the service has.
Why Virgin Media couldn't get a deal like this is what I'd like to know...

August 12, 2012

Sky Atlantic series showing on Sky Living

One of the Sky Atlantic premieres this year is now going to be shown, in full, on Sky Living HD from August 20th. Now that makes sense: the show got good initial reviews but was something of a ratings flop on Sky Atlantic (as are most), so putting it on a channel with a wider audience will appease advertisers and mean Sky gets more air time for its investment in the show.
So will Sky do similar with other Atlantic series? I guess Game of Thrones is unlikely, but maybe the homegrown stuff like Adam Buxton's Bug or the Kathy Burke series Walking and Talking? They always sounded more like Sky1 series to me than Atlantic.
There are rumours of more HD channels coming to Virgin Media in the autumn, but I've not heard anything definite yet. ITV2, 3 and 4 are obvious candidates, but anyone banking on seeing Atlantic or F1 is I fear going to be disappointed.

August 10, 2012

TiVo updates start next Monday

From Virgin Media:
We're updating your TiVo box to enable some great new features.
Your update will happen in the early hours one morning between 13th and 24th August. That's the time we know our customers are least likely to be watching TV or recording shows, so we hope it won't interrupt anything. We'll let you know on 27th August to confirm we've updated your TiVo box.
Make sure your TiVo box is either turned on or in standby mode overnight during this time, since the update won't start until your box is next switched on. Instead of switching your TiVo box off at the mains every night, it's best to just put it in standby. That way, any updates (including smaller ones we might not write to you about) can happen while you're doing other things.
Most importantly, the update will take an average of 30 minutes and you won't be able to watch TV or use the box during this time. If the update is interrupted by someone switching the TiVo box off, there is a small risk you could lose all your saved settings and recorded shows. So, it's really, really important that you leave your box on and make sure everyone at home knows not to use it during that time.
Also, if you have any recordings planned for that particular time they won't record.
And here's a preview of some of the new features included in the update.

  • Record and Reminders - Reminders, where even if you do miss the reminder pop-up, you still won't miss your show as TiVo will still record it for you. 
  • General stability updates for TiVo and interactive services
  • HDMI connection reliability improvements – Some of you who've seen this issue should see a reduction in the number of invalid HDMI error messages.
  • Global settings – You can now set default recording options for new single recordings, Series Links, and WishLists
  • Streamlined Video On Demand Search – You can now find and play your favourite video on demand shows in a flash

August 07, 2012

Sky's Bond movie channel coming to Virgin - in HD

Sky is rebranding Sky Movies Showcase HD (channel 433) as a dedicated 007 channel in October. It'll be showing all the Bond films in remastered HD, including the sixties version of Casino Royale and the overlong Connery return in Never Say Never Again.
They'll also all be available on demand with Sky Anytime+.
Although I collect old editions of the Fleming books and have fond memories of many of the Connery movies, I seem to find them quite painful to re-watch these days (excepting From Russia With Love). Having said that Daniel Craig in Casino Royale is for me the best Bond (so far) and David Arnold's soundtrack is one of my absolute favourite film soundtracks ever.f
(I went to sixth form college with David Arnold, y'know...)

August 05, 2012

The Olympics HD channels on Virgin Media

I'm late with posting this as I've been away, but for those who haven't already found them, our beloved Auntie has these HD channels available on Virgin, as well as BBC1 HD on 108 and BBC HD on 187. There's also non-HD coverage on BBC3 (106). British Eurosport coverage of the games in HD is on 522 and in 3D on 523.

550BBC Olympics 1 HD
551BBC Olympics 2 HD
552BBC Olympics 3 HD
553BBC Olympics 4 HD
554BBC Olympics 5 HD
555BBC Olympics 6 HD
556BBC Olympics 7 HD
557BBC Olympics 8 HD
558BBC Olympics 9 HD
559BBC Olympics 10 HD
560BBC Olympics 11 HD
561BBC Olympics 12 HD
562BBC Olympics 13 HD
563BBC Olympics 14 HD
564BBC Olympics 15 HD
565BBC Olympics 16 HD
566BBC Olympics 17 HD
567BBC Olympics 18 HD
568BBC Olympics 19 HD
569BBC Olympics 20 HD
570BBC Olympics 21 HD
571BBC Olympics 22 HD
572BBC Olympics 23 HD
573BBC Olympics 24 HD

VM looking at bringing TiVo to all customers

In last month's investor call CEO Neil Berkett said Virgin Media continued to review the advantages of using TiVo as its single middleware. (Virgin’s low-end boxes currently use the ugly Liberate middleware, known as TV Navigator.)
Berkett said “We are already exploring non Cisco/Samsung devices at circa £100 to rollout elements of our middleware. We’re launching in the fourth quarter a companion app on the iPad and that will ultimately move to a full app across multiple devices. As we go further out in time I predict there will be more efficient ways of delivering TiVo to customers that is not a DVR box.”

BSkyB has too much power over rivals, Competition Commission rules

From MediaGuardian:
The competition regulator has said that BSkyB has too much power over pay-TV rivals, raising the possibility that the satellite company could face another investigation. Last Thursday, the Competition Commission raised the issue of BSkyB's "market power" as part of the publication of its final report into the pay-TV film market. The report gave more detail of the process behind the competition regulator's announcement in May that no action needs to be taken over BSkyB's monopoly of UK pay-TV film rights. 
As part of its investigation, the Competition Commission found that BSkyB's dominance over rivals in the pay-TV market meant that 'competition was not effective'. However, the commission is powerless to tackle the issue at this time. [more]

July 24, 2012

Virgin Media posts Q2 2012 results

I'm currently on holiday and away from the Mac for a few days, but if you want to read more about Virgin Media's results for the last three months, please check out today's press release:
Q2 2012 Earnings Release

July 18, 2012

Sky Sports free this weekend

From Sky Sports
With the free weekend, Sky Sports are giving non-Sky Sports customers a whole weekend of world-class sport for free.From 6am on Friday July 20 to just before midnight on Sunday 22, even if you don't have a Sky Sports subscription you could watch all the sporting action on all six Sky Sports channels including Sky Sports F1.
That includes Sky Sports 1 HD and 2 HD if you're on the XL TV package with Virgin Media.

July 16, 2012

Sky launches Now TV

Prepare to be underwhelmed...

MediaGuardian reports: BSkyB is to launch its internet service Now TV on Tuesday, with the aim of taking on rivals such as Netflix and LoveFilm, offering movies for £15 a month or up to £3.49 per view.
The service, which will launch this week on PC, Mac and some Android smartphones, will initially only offer Sky Movies content at launch with access to 600 films and 11 channels.
However a typically aggressive rollout plan will see Sky Sports content including Premier League, cricket, rugby and golf before the end of the year, as well as channels including Sky1, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic.
Now TV will be priced at £15 a month for customers who want to access Sky Movies content, with a "pay and play" option of selecting individual films from 99p to £3.49.
Netflix is currently £5.99 a month and LoveFilm pricing starts at £4.99 a month, so it does make you wonder who will be attracted to a service costing considerably more at £15 a month. It will get streaming movies ahead of other services but surely if people want that they will already have Sky Movies. Maybe when it adds the Sky channels and sports it may make a little more sense for those looking to supplement their Freeview, but that's likely to cost even more, and for now it looks a poor proposition compared with the alternatives.

July 12, 2012

TiVo Dark Knight Rises App

If, like me, you only have one film you just have to see this summer, then check out the new Dark Knight Rises App on Virgin Media's TiVo to get a tantalising behind the scenes feature ahead of next week's release. I've not been too impressed by the TiVo Apps to date - there are now quite a few but none had really offered much.
Until now. I thought it would be just a few trailers and maybe a production still or two, but it's far better than that, with an extended trailer/behind the scenes promo and a fair amount of content I hadn't seen before.

July 08, 2012

BBC schedule disruption and the TiVo

One of the downsides of the TiVo is that the programme guide isn't dynamic enough to pick up those pesky over running sports events. Sure, there's a feature when you are recording a live event to extend the recording by extra time, but what about those of us who had set the TiVo to record the following programme?
Case in point, BBC HD last night, which mirrored BBC2's extended Wimbledon coverage which knocked the prestigious thesp fest Hollow Crown back by over half an hour and buggered my recording of it. Of course, I can watch it on BBC iPlayer on the TiVo (and in HD too) or I can record it in SD on BBC Four tonight at 9pm, but what if I wanted to record it in HD and keep it for more than 20 days?
So how about they set up the EPG to offer to extend programmes after the live sports, too? That would be pretty good and wouldn't take any work I'm sure. It's disappointing that the TiVo guide can't be updated more dynamically, but if it can't then at least we should have warning that the preceding programme may overrun and we can pad a recording appropriately.

Sky Go monthly ticket - a legal way to acquire Sky Atlantic series

Sky Go is maturing. What was once a pretty poor, buffering and stuttering streaming service appears to have blossomed into a genuine, valuable service for Sky customers...and also for non-Sky customers too.
With a Sky Go Monthly Ticket you can watch TV from Sky online without the need for a satellite dish or annual contract. You can choose from a range of tickets and watch up to 40 live channels and thousands of hours of on demand shows in line with their subscription. What’s more, customers can register up to two devices and watch on both at the same time. You can watch TV with a Sky Go Monthly Ticket on a computer, iPhone, iPad, compatible Android smartphone or Xbox 360, and can sign up for as little as one month or choose to auto-renew your ticket each month. 
The minimum deal for non-Sky TV subscribers is a £15 monthly ticket, which gets you Sky1, Sky News, Sky Arts 1, Sky Living and (trumpets aloft) Sky Atlantic. You don't just get the live channels - you get the Anytime+ On Demand programmes for those channels too.
I've had a play and must admit I'm pretty impressed - playback is on a par with SD BBC iPlayer on my iPad and MacBook, and when I play the laptop's picture through my TV it looks good too on the larger screen.
A big disappointment for me is that Sky has blocked the output to a TV from the iPad or iPhone for some reason. Why?? Where's the logic in that when the feed from a laptop is permitted??
So if you're desperate for Sky Atlantic stuff and don't want to wait for the DVDs and aren't comfortable using "alternative sources", this could be a solution that might work for you. Personally, I think £15 is too much for what is really just a single (albeit highly desirable) additional channel missing from my VM package. Besides, the Blu Ray release of Boardwalk Empire season 2 is out in September and UK Atlantic programmes like Hit & Miss are appearing quickly on disc too, so maybe a tenner a month for a LoveFilm subscription would be a better value option.

July 07, 2012

Spotify update, UPDATED

Back in May there were many reports of Virgin customers finding the Spotify service unusable over VM broadband, including me (see this post: Spotify problem fixed - oh no it isn't).
Well, I've been using it all day and I'm pleased to report I've had no stuttering whatsoever, so it looks like it may be fixed. Still not convinced I will pay for the service when my free year ends, but at least it's working properly again.
(Incidentally, there's a quick workaround you can use if you have stuttering service on an iPhone: make the playlist available for offline listening. Be sure to select the Extreme quality setting to get the best sound.)
UPDATE, JULY 15TH: Not fixed. VM reckon I have an issue with my signal strength again. Will leave it until after my upcoming holiday before booking any engineer. Anyone else having issues still?

July 04, 2012

BBC 3D update

I'll be the first to admit that recent 3D experiences at the local Picturehouse have been pretty impressive (Avengers and Prometheus) but I still can't get excited about putting glasses on for home viewing. Regardless of my misgivings, the BBC is lining up a host of 3D on BBC HD this summer (before the channel changes to BBC2 HD in the autumn). Selected coverage of Wimbledon's 2012 Ladies' and Men's singles finals will be shown in 3D this weekend and there will be some coverage of the Olympics, including the opening and closing ceremonies, the Men's 100m final and a highlights package at the end of each day will be shown in 3D too. Finally the Last Night of the Proms will be on the BBC's HD channel on September 8th. It's likely to prove the only reason to don dark glasses this "summer"...

Eurosport HD to become British Eurosport 1 HD

British Eurosport 1 will get a high definition simulcast channel on Virgin Media on July 25th, promising "a more UK focus to the HD sporting coverage". That means though that Eurosport International will disappear (and presumably much of its cycling coverage) and, unlike Sky customers, we're not getting Eurosport 2 HD.
Not a viewer of the channel myself but it sounds to me that those who are currently enjoying the Tour de France coverage in HD will be getting a raw deal after the 25th.
Details at British Eurosport HD (and that odd cropping on the logo appears to be intentional branding!)

June 28, 2012

Reminders arriving on TiVo

Currently in trial and reported on this thread at Cable Forum
When the reminder is due this pops up on screen. If you don't respond the Tivo changes channel to the set reminder.

It's life Jim, but not as we know it

Press Release: CBS Action beams aboard new app to Virgin Media’s TiVo service

Virgin Media’s revolutionary TiVo service today sees the arrival of a brand new interactive Star Trek app courtesy of CBS Action. The app will thrill aficionados of the legendary show as well as take newcomers behind the scenes of one of the world’s most successful television franchises.
Every episode of Star Trek: The Digitally Remastered Original Series which is exclusively broadcast on CBS Action (Virgin Media channel 192), will be featured in the app following each original broadcast. Additionally, the app will showcase cast interviews, the classic 1970s Star Trek animated series and rare documentaries on demand, plus a host of exclusive and original content including footage from the hottest Star Trek conventions, interactive games and monthly quizzes.
Easily accessible through the ‘Apps and Games’ section, the app joins Virgin Media TiVo’s rapidly growing portfolio of interactive services, which enables customers to discover new content and interact with shows they love in entirely new ways.
With just one click, viewers will be transported into the farthest regions of the galaxy aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise and into the control room. From here, they will be able to navigate through six menu options which will present them with a truly unique Star Trek experience.
On Demand
Viewers will be able to enter a gateway to catch up on the week’s episodes of Star Trek starting with Star Trek: The Digitally Remastered Original Series, available to Virgin Media customers for the first time thanks to CBS Action.
Starfleet Interviews
A vault of behind the scenes interviews with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise and its creators, including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, DC Fontana and Walter ‘Matt’ Jefferies.
Intergalactic Events
CBS Action will travel the universe to bring you insights, news and reviews from the most exciting sci-fi conventions. The channel’s Trekologist Raules Davies will give a fan’s eye view of the UK’s Collectormania and London Film and Comic Con and witness first hand FedCon from Dusseldorf. As an official partner of Destination Star Trek London, CBS Action has the rare opportunity to interview all five captains, which will be available on the App later this year.
Virgin Media TiVo customers will have on demand access to all 22 episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series and two rare Star Trek documentaries: A Captain’s Log and Beyond The Frontier.
The Ultimate Quiz
Viewers will have the chance to test their knowledge with a fun and interactive quiz written and hosted by Raules Davies. With this ultimate grey matter test of all things Trek, Virgin Media TiVo customers will be able to interact with the quiz to determine their Starfleet ranking all the way from Cadet to Captain.
Viewers can select their favourite Enterprise crew member and watch an exclusive video showcasing their top five skills, as selected by Raules Davies.

June 20, 2012

New Sky EPG and HD comes to LoveFilm

A couple of news items about other platforms:
Firstly, Sky is rejigging its EPG in a (futile) attempt to compete with TiVo. Not coming until the end of the year (and even then it won't be on all boxes). More details at
Meanwhile, LoveFilm has finally added HD to its (frankly pretty poor quality) UK streaming service. This news from Crave;
If you're watching on an Xbox, Blu-ray player or smart telly, you'll get a 720p stream. Only some titles are currently available in HD -- on its blog Lovefilm explains that flicks like Apocalypse Now and Attack the Block* will be streaming in glorious high definiton, as will TV shows including Planet Earth and Lost.

Unfortunately Lovefilm says it doesn't have studio rights to stream HD on the iPad, while PlayStation 3 owners are also left out -- though Sony's console currently streams in higher than standard quality apparently, as do Sony tellies and Blu-ray players.
I would personally recommend Apple TV over Netflix or LoveFilm from a picture quality perspective, but it's not anywhere near as cheap.
* Incidentally, Attack the Block is on 4HD this Sunday evening - a fine Brit flick from Mr Joe Cornish!

June 14, 2012

BT confirms its new Premiership coverage will be on Virgin Media

According to The Guardian:
BT promises its service will be available on Freeview, Virgin and Sky, and although no pricing has been outlined, costs are likely to start at about £10 a month – with fans having to fork out for both.

June 13, 2012

ESPN loses Premiership Football

ESPN HD won't be showing Premiership football from the 2013/14 season onwards after losing the rights battle for the 38 non-Sky games to BT. Sky secured five of the seven packages for 2013-14 to 2015-16, totalling 116 matches a year, while BT, ousting ESPN, acquired the rights for 32 games. Its package includes 18 of the 38 first-choice picks, Saturday lunchtime and Bank Holiday games being the main menu for BT. What happens now with ESPN and carriage of BT on Virgin Media is anyone's guess. But remember this is not next season but is the season after, so don't expect any details to be announced for some time.

June 02, 2012

Spotify issues?

If you have had issues using Spotify over your Virgin Media account, they'd like to hear from you. Check out VM's Spotify Issues thread.

May 31, 2012

Spotify problem "fixed"? UPDATE: oh no it isn't...

I'd pretty much given up with my Spotify service from Virgin Media: the service promises so much but of late has been pretty much unusable with tracks playing for a few seconds and then stalling, and playing again then stalling. Throw in a less-than-reliable iOS mobile App and it's proven to be worse than useless. Turns out I'm not alone:
"Virgin Media has been investigating a problem some customers have had with streaming music from Spotify during busier times of the day. "We have identified a recent issue with congestion between the Virgin Media network and Spotify's data centre which can occur intermittently during peak times. "Following some routing configuration changes, this congestion should now be alleviated; however further analysis is being conducted and additional routing changes or capacity upgrades will be implemented as needed to avoid re-occurrence of this issue as the popularity of the service grows. We apologise for any inconvenience."
Hmmm. Somewhat not monitoring things properly? Why was there no mention of this problem until customers started complaining? I found the service unusable during evenings and weekends and thought it was the flaky App on my iPhone, but turns out it's just maxed out and nobody at VM did much about it.
UPDATE: Not fixed. I'm getting the usual Sunday morning stuttering on Spotify every minute or so.

May 30, 2012

VMHD housekeeping

I've been doing some housekeeping on some of the older posts on this blog as there have been a few administration funnies over the last few months. Apologies to anyone looking through the archives but early posts are no longer available online (but may be cached elsewhere on the web).

May 28, 2012

TiVo US announce a six tuner monster!

Press release: TiVo and Pace Announce First Pace Product With TiVo Software Integration

TiVo Inc. the creator of and a leader in advanced television services, including digital video recorders (DVRs), for consumers, content distributors and consumer electronics manufacturers, and Pace, a leading developer of technologies, products and services for global broadband and broadcast markets, today announced details of the first product, the Pace XG1, resulting from a global partnership TiVo and Pace announced in February 2012 to develop flexible, advanced television solutions for operators. This new Multi-tuner Video Gateway from Pace will provide cable operators in the Americas an advanced television solution for their customers by bringing to market the full award-winning TiVo experience on powerful, new platforms designed to be easily integrated with today's cable networks.
The Pace XG1 includes 6 video tuners, an integrated DOCSIS 3.0 modem, and at least 500GB of on board hard drive storage. It will utilize TiVo's whole-home capabilities, such as multi-room streaming and support for both traditional set-top boxes and IP devices as clients over MoCA, and support for TiVo's mobile and tablet applications.As previously announced, this initial offering will first be made available by Pace to cable operators in the Americas later this year. TiVo and Pace also expect to follow the XG1 with additional solutions for domestic and international operators soon after.
U.S. operators currently deploying TiVo offerings to their customers include Charter, DIRECTV, RCN, Suddenlink and Grande Communications, and European operators include Virgin Media, the largest cable operator in the UK, and ONO.
I wouldn't expect to see much demand for a six-tuner TiVo box in the UK, but it's interesting to note that the new partnership with Pace is starting to deliver some new hardware solutions for TiVo.

May 23, 2012

Competition Commission takes no action shock!

The Guardian is reporting that the Competition Commission are bottling it when it comes to reviewing BskyB’s monopoly on pay TV film rights:
BSkyB is to face no action from regulators over its monopoly of UK pay-TV film rights, after the Competition Commission decided that video on demand rivals such as LoveFilm and Netflix provide a vibrant market for consumers.
The decision marks a U-turn by the competition regulator, which provisionally determined last August that BSkyB's contracts with the six major Hollywood studios – were anti-competitive and needed to be weakened to allow rivals to flourish.
"Virgin Media strongly disagrees with today's provisional findings by the Competition Commission and continues to support its earlier findings of 2011 – that Sky's control of movie rights is restricting competition in the UK," said a spokeswoman for Virgin Media.
"The recent emergence of providers such as LoveFilm and Netflix has done nothing to impact Sky's advantage and we're currently working to better understand the reasons for the commission's decision as we consider next steps.
"The commission states very clearly in these provisional findings that competition in the wider pay-TV retail market remains ineffective."
Now normally I would be on VM’s side here, but, as we’ve seen when Sky was forced to share Premiership football with another broadcaster (Setanta/ESPN) these things don’t always benefit the paying customer even if it does eliminate a monopoly. Where once you could get all your Premiership games from Sky for a single price you now have to subscribe to ESPN too (on Sky at least). If that happened with the movie channels we could find ourselves in a situation similar to the States where you have to take multiple premium priced services to have access to the five big Hollywood studios movies, costing the customer considerably more than we pay here. The current arrangement works well – if you are just an occasional movie watcher you probably just need the films broadcast on the Freeview channels, if you want first run you go to either FilmFlex on a pay per movie or subscribe to Sky Movies. If we had to pay for, say, Sky Movies for Warner Bros movies but VM Movies for Universal and Sony films, that would be a mess.
I can't believe VM is going to suddenly decide to invest in their own content again, so all I can suppose is that their complaining is more to do with reducing carriage fees for Sky Movies than any genuine demand to address a monopoly situation.

May 22, 2012

24 new HD channels launching on Virgin Media (for the Olympics only)

The BBC Olympics channels will occupy EPG numbers 550-573 for HD and 574-597 for SD. Also Eurosport 3D will return to its former channel number 523, apparently for the French Tennis Open.
Sad to say that VM hasn't added any other new HD channels since last autumn and the only one confirmed as "coming soon" is Alibi HD which is supposed to launch in July. BBC HD becoming BBC2 HD doesn't count, so when can we expect some new HD channels Virgin Media? It's been a very long wait and the arrival of the Olympics channels at least confirms there's no technical capacity restrictions denying us more HD content.

TiVo recordings on the go

TiVo are launching a new product, TiVo Stream, and according to this report from PaidContent it's coming to Virgin Media later this year:
"Set-top box maker TiVo has introduced a new Slingbox-like product that lets users stream live or DVR-recorded TV to tablets, notebooks and smartphones. Showcased Monday at the Cable Show in Boston, TiVo Stream enables users of TiVo Premiere or Premiere Q digital video recorders to view video from their multichannel subscription on devices including the iPad on iPhone. The transcoding product is similar to EchoStar’s Slingbox, but differs in that it streams or downloads programs to multiple mobile devices without disrupting living-room viewing. In addition, TiVo also unveiled a new IP set-top box that allows Premiere Q users to view live or recorded TV from any room in the house. TiVo will debut both products at retail, or through partnerships with multichannel TV service providers including DirecTV, Charter Communications, Suddenlink and the UK’s Virgin Media, later this year. "