April 30, 2012

Virgin Media "must block Pirate Bay"

For those who resorting to "alternative means" to obtain their HBO fix in the absence of Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media, a kick in the teeth. According to the BBC:
File-sharing site The Pirate Bay must be blocked by UK internet service providers, the High Court has ruled. The Swedish website hosts links to download mostly pirated free music and video.
Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must all prevent their users from accessing the site. (BT requested "a few more weeks" to consider their position on blocking the site.)

April 29, 2012

Fox renews Fringe for a fifth and final season

It's been touch and go for almost twelve months but now there's confirmation that Sky1 HD's Fringe will return for a fifth and final season, albeit with only 13 episodes to wrap up the tale of Walter, Peter and Olivia.
Fringe is a remarkably creative series that has set the bar as one of television’s most imaginative dramas,” said Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly. “Bringing it back for a final 13 allows us to provide the climactic conclusion that its passionate and loyal fans deserve. The amazing work the producers, writers and the incredibly talented cast and crew have delivered the last four seasons has literally been out of this world. Although the end is bittersweet, it’s going to be a very exciting final chapter.”
“We are thrilled and beyond grateful that Fox – and our fans – have made the impossible possible: Fringe will continue into a fifth season that will allow the series to conclude in a wild and thrilling way,” said co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams. “All of us at Bad Robot are forever indebted to our viewers and the amazingly supportive Fox network for allowing the adventures of Fringe Division to not only continue, but to resolve in a way that perfectly fits the show.”
“This pickup means the world (both of them) to us, because we love sharing these stories with our enthusiastic fans,” added Fringe showrunners and executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman. “On behalf of the cast and crew, we applaud our fans and Fox for allowing us to imagine the impossibilities together for so long. Season Five is going to be a conclusive thrill ride for all of us.”

April 26, 2012

2012 Olympics: BBC coverage on Virgin Media

I've had a few people asking about Virgin Media and the Olympics broadcasting from the BBC. According to the BBC:
"Virgin Media will provide its subscribers with 24 live streams of Olympic action from the BBC and Eurosport during the 2012 Games. The streams will be available in both standard and high definition at no extra cost while the provider will also carry 3D broadcasts when they occur."
Here is VM's own press release on the matter:

With the 2012 London Olympics just one hundred days away, Virgin Media today revealed a wide range of exciting Olympics content its customers will be able to enjoy throughout the Summer of Sport on Virgin Media TV, all at no extra cost. Featuring live broadcasts in both standard- and high-definition, interactive apps and even a wide range of events in 3D, Virgin Media’s unbeatable coverage of the Olympics, courtesy of the BBC and Eurosport, will provide fans the perfect destination for all their Olympic viewing.
For sports fans wanting to keep up with the absolute latest, in addition to the Olympics coverage on BBC One, BBC Three, BBC One HD and BBC HD, Virgin Media will also be bringing its customers 24 live streams in both standard- or high-definition* courtesy of the BBC.
This extensive coverage will mean that for the first time ever, every Olympic sport will be available to view live, whether it’s gymnastics, judo or show jumping. The 24 live channels will be available through the Electronic Programme Guide, or through a dedicated BBC Red Button application. For TiVo customers the BBC Red Button service will take advantage of the service’s IP connectivity and will be enhanced with an exhaustive catch-up offering allowing viewers to catch up on key moments of the games at a time of their choosing.
For die-hard Olympophiles looking for even more immersion, in addition to the regular coverage, Virgin Media will also be bringing its customers Olympics content in 3D courtesy of BBC and Eurosport 3D. The BBC will be showing the opening and closing ceremonies in 3D, alongside selected live events and daily highlights in 3D. Due to launch 27th July, Eurosport 3D will broadcast a mix of around eight hours of live coverage in 3D alongside four hours of each day’s main highlights and to provide the most comprehensive 3D coverage of the Games on British television. Aleks Habdank, director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media said: “With a full range of live channels in HD and the first Olympics in 3D, Virgin Media TV customers are going to be spoilt with an unbeatable experience for watching the 2012 London Olympics. This year’s unprecedented breadth of viewing options will allow fans of any Olympic sport to watch their favourite events live and on demand, and with BBC and Eurosport 3D, viewers will be able to immerse themselves in the Games as never seen before.” Virgin Media will also have a range of Olympics content available to watch at anytime through its pioneering TV on Demand service. Through the course of the Games, customers will be able to enjoy a range of catch-up content through BBC iPlayer, as well as selected highlights from Eurosport 3D to relive those spectacular moments with incredible depth and realism. Customers with Virgin Media’s TiVo or V+ HD services also have additional benefits such as the ability to record up to three channels simultaneously. For customers enjoying the Games live, TiVo also allows customers to tune into three separate channels at the same time, with TiVo automatically storing up to three ‘live buffers’ through its triple tuner feature. This allows viewers to flip channels at a whim and pause and rewind the action on any of the channels on the three tuners, even if customers aren’t recording the Games.

* Depending on a customer’s equipment, different services will be available:

TV Box
24 live BBC channels (SD)
24 live BBC channels (HD)
Red Button Services
Advanced Red Button Services
Eurosport 3D
Eurosport 3D On Demand
V Box
TiVo 500GB
TiVo 1TB

[sorry about the overspill on the table]
Table 1: All customers will be able to receive BBC’s 24 live streams in Standard Definition; customers require HD compatible equipment to receive HD versions of the 24 live streams and 3D compatible equipment to receive BBC 3D or Eurosport 3D. TiVo customers will be getting advanced BBC Red Button functionality including with an exhaustive catch-up offering allowing viewers to catch up on key moments of the games at a time of their choosing.

April 25, 2012

Rather good first quarter for Virgin Media, HD and Tivo

Virgin Media has published its results for Q1 2012 and actually beat forecasts on signing up new customers and sales, which were up 2.4%. It has also announced first quarter revenues in excess of £1bn, another first for the company.
They added 21,200 customers to its network compared with the previousquarter, the highest in two years. The VM cable subscriber base now at 4.827 million, edging at a glacial pace towards 5 million.
"The appeal of TiVo is driving strong pay TV performance. We added 242,000 more TiVo customers during the quarter to reach a total of 677,100 at the quarter-end, which represents 18% of our TV customer base. This already exceeds the proportion of our customers on our lowest free tier, which now stands at 17% having fallen from 21% a year ago, as we successfully increased the number of paying TV customers by 50,600 in the quarter."
Virgin also added 45,700 cable broadband customers in the period, their highest figure ever for a single quarter.

Full results presentation: Virgin Media 2012 Q1 results

There is no mention of any new channels, HD or otherwise, on the horizon. The only ones confirmed as "coming soon" I'm aware of are Alibi HD and the Olympics BBC bonanza.

April 21, 2012

TiVo YouTube App updated

The Tivo YouTube App has been updated as of 20th April, although it may have taken a few more hours to roll out across all regions
You can now discover videos by genre, rate videos and also to log into your YouTube account to see the playlists you have set up online.
(Thanks to Keith for the heads up)

April 19, 2012

Mad Men's viewing figures have been "wrongly interpreted"

In an attempt by Sky Atlantic to defend the highly promoted Mad Men's laughablly low audience figures, Sky Atlantic Director Naomi Gibney has written an interesting defence on MediaGuardian.
Whilst I don't disagree that viewing habits have changed thanks to Sky+, TiVo et al, she's ignoring the elephant in the room which is the number of people who love the show (like me) who are denied access by it only being available on Sky and therefore access it "by other means" (I use a US iTunes account but I'd imagine most aren't paying). Until media companies make their content available to all legitimately, that elephant will stampede through their profits regardless...

April 11, 2012

More on the BBC Red Button on TiVo

From BBC Internet Blog: At first, the app will be available via the red button on the Virgin Media TiVo platform. This brings the service into over 500,000 homes, and provides Virgin Media TiVo viewers with access to a BBC Red Button service for the first time. Later in the year, a wider range of devices will offer the service - more details to follow.

BBC Red Button live on TiVo coming very VERY soon

MediaBoy's reporting that the BBC Red Button is now live on TiVo, but I'm not getting it on my BBC channels yet - red just launches BBC iPlayer still. Spiderplant on Cable Forum reports that it will be fully rolled out across the regions within the next day or so.

Bloody Virgin Broadband

I posted last week about how unreliable my VIP 50Mb broadband has been for over a month, down almost every day at some point. We had an engineer out last week who said he bumped up the signal from the street cabinet and sure enough full service was resumed. Temporarily. Now it's been down for the best part of a day and I can't get through to the Service Desk.
Is anyone else getting this? TV and phone are fine, but obviously TiVo is little more than a V+ without the internet so I'm well peeved, and my daughter's exam revision is being hit big time by no internet. Is this the price we're to pay for the speed doubling promised? Give me a stable service any day over a speed hike I don't need.
UPDATE: April 18. I've now had continuous broadband for 72 hours, albeit at speeds around the 30mb rather than the previous 47mb+. Thanks to Alex at VM for the offer to resolve this for me. Hopefully I haven't tempted fate by suggesting the service is now sorted :-)
UPDATE 2: Turns out I spoke to soon, but now they've been back again and I'm seeing the speeds I used to get, hopefully now with a stable service

April 03, 2012

Broadband throttling limits announced

Virgin Media has published the download and upload traffic management constraints that will accompany the new "double" speeds as they roll out. Full details at thinkbroadband.com, but here are the XXL limitations:
XXL 50Mbps and XL60: If you download more than 5Gb between 4pm and 9pm your download speed will be halved for five hours, if you upload more than 12Gb you'll have to put up with operating at 25% of your normal speed for five hours. XXL 100Mbps customers hit their speed bumps at 10Gb on the download and 12Gb on the upload.
Now I'm not a heavy downloading demon so these won't affect me (half of 100mb will be the speed I currently enjoy and I don't need 100mb to be truthful) but many will be unhappy.
What makes me very unhappy at the moment is the unreliability of the broadband in South East London of late: up and down on a daily basis after years of stability and where once I had an impressive 48mbps I'm seeing speeds of half that. I'm told by CS that it's due to the engineering going on (we're due for the speed doubling in July) but the nightly loss of service is turning out to be a huge problem for my daughter's exam prep. Come on Virgin, sort it out please!

April 02, 2012

Game of Thrones - the frustrations of legit viewing

I just love this cartoon! It's not just UK customers who are getting really frustrated with the restricted availability of much-hyped, eagerly anticipated series. Check out the full cartoon at http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones.