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]