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!)