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:
"...in 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 tekkish.com. 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 virginmedia.com. 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 virginmedia.com 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 tvretune.co.uk. 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)