December 29, 2013

Sky Sports 1 HD lip sync issue

I'm watching Goals on Sunday in HD and the studio stuff is out of sync slightly, but the ads, including one for Sky Movies is spot on (Cumberpatch's enunciation is a perfect test).
Over on SS1 in SD it's all in sync. 
As lip sync issues go it's mild, but, unless Sky provides a separate feed for the ads (which I doubt) it's a Sky feed fault that apparenty doesn't affect their own service.

December 28, 2013

New series on Netflix this month

Those nice Netflix people have added the final season of Dexter (season 8) and the first three of The Good Wife. Also Vampire Diaries s.4 and Warehouse 13 s.4, plus there's the rather wonderful first season of the cartoon Adventure Time for those young at heart.
And if you're wondering why Sky Movies still hasn't shown the first Hobbit film - it doesn't appear to have the rights. Netflix has the streaming rights to all three Hobbit films in a deal secured back in 2011. Sky Movies normally shows films a year or so after they're in the cinema, although recently the likes of Iron Man 3  and Skyfall appeared after just six months. They may still show the Hobbit (it was on Sky Box Office / Virgin Movies VOD I think) but it's been on Netflix since August and still isn't listed in the upcoming movies on Sky Movies Premiere yet.
Incidentally, here's an interesting list that's appeared on IMDB that highlights many of the top movies on Netflix UK http://www.imdb.com/list/Mz4se1ZIEmY/. Hopefully the author can keep it up to date - good work fella!

December 27, 2013

Most popular posts of the year

The data I get on this blog sometimes makes interesting reading as it gives me an indication of what topics are most popular. It's not always a clear indicator as it tends to ignore visitors who don't venture passed the home page, but it's as good a guide as I get as to what are the most popular topics. Normally the blog has around 48k page views a month, but some posts attract a fair audience on their own.
For example, the post of 2013 with the most page views was BT Sports on Virgin Media, which had 7,433 visitors in May and is the third highest audience in all the years I've been doing this blog, closely followed by BT Sport will be on Virgin Media but pricing and HD to be confirmed (6,811 visitors). In fact the (eventual) arrival of BT Sports was by quite a distant the topic of the year, although any posts on the TV Anywhere for Android attracted at least 2,500 page views each and Netflix posts pulled in a regular 1,200+.
But it was that hardy perennial Sky Atlantic that, even though still mostly rumour, kept  attracting around 4,000 visitors each time. Even a short post like this one attracted 4,354 views.
Incidentally, the most popular post ever on VMHD was this one, which pulled in 13,479 views back in November 2011.

December 24, 2013

An early Christmas present

Can't find it on my TiVo yet but here's the web version of the seven minute mini episode. And yes, both Cumberpatch and Freeman are in it
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/tv/episode/p01np1b8/Sherlock_Series_3_Sherlock_Mini_Episode_Many_Happy_Returns 

"Only lies have detail" indeed :-)

Update: it's now on the TiVo version of BBC iPlayer - just do a search for "Sherlock" and there it is. Just SD, sadly.

December 23, 2013

Seasons greetings from this humble blog

Wishing all visitors to the VMHD blog a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous new year. 2013 was probably the best year yet for Virgin Media - let's hope 2014 is just as good. 

December 10, 2013

Farewell, standard definition

At 8.30 this morning the last SD channels in my Favourites listings bit the big one. Yes, with the launch of BBC News HD (and with BBC Four HD alive and kicking from 7pm this evening) the days of standard definition on my TiVo and aging V+ are finally consigned to history. Of course, there will still be many programmes on the HD channels I watch that will be upscaled SD, but the quest I embarked upon some six years ago when I first launched this blog is finally at an end, and we've gone from a single HD channel when VMHD launched (BBC HD) to over 50 today.
Of course, not everyone is so lucky, but those two BBC channels were the last SD regulars I watch so I'm one happy bunny.

December 04, 2013

BBC additional HD channels will arrive on Tuesday December 10th

They're shuffling around the BBC HD channels when the new ones arrive. BBC One HD stays on 108, but they're moving BBC Alba to channel 161 and BBC Two HD to 162 (from 187), then the new ones will be 
BBC THREE HD 163
BBC FOUR HD 164
BBC NEWS HD 604
CBBC HD 710
Ceebies HD 711
Not sure why they didn't put BBC One HD onto 161, but then channel numbering since the introduction of HD has always been a hit and miss affair.

December 03, 2013

HBO on Android / Google Play

Google has struck a deal with HBO to make Game of Thrones available on its TV service, getting one over rival Apple iTunes, which does not have rights for the hit fantasy series.
HBO has struck a wide-ranging deal to make shows including Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Girls and Veep available on the Google Play service for the first time.
The deal will see older shows, such as The Wire, The Sopranos and Band of Brothers available to own and stream via Google Play from next week.
Google is charging £18.49 for the full third season of Game of Thrones, or £1.89 an episode.
I've no idea of whether or not there will be an HD option (the pricing suggests just SD. Anyone hoping for HBO shows via Netflix is likely to be disappointed as there's little love lost between TimeWarner (HBO's parent) and Netflix - the only HBO content I've come across on Netflix is the BBC co-production Rome.

November 30, 2013

February price rises

Whenever Virgin Media raises its prices it's a confusing time as we all have different deals and I can only really comment on how the rise affects me. I'm on the VIP package and have just renewed it for a further twelve months to get the Netflix deal, and I've had the email saying that my monthly charge from February will be up by £4.95. Elsewhere I've seen it reported that prices are going up by an average of 6.7%, but it really does vary depending on what deal you've got - my increase is actually 4.3%.
That'll be affordable for me but some may say enough's enough. Virgin Media has sweetened the pill slightly by upping broadband speeds around the same time with the top tier of 130mbps being elevated to a BT-thumping 152mbps. (It would be nice if they'd throw in Sky Atlantic and the missing Sky HD channels to sweeten it further, but I still have no news on that front to offer.)

November 27, 2013

TV Anywhere on Android

Apparently still not arrived. Latest news on VM's own blog http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/TV-Anywhere/Android-App-for-TV-anywhere/td-p/1982554/page/23
(I don't have any Android devices so can't keep track on this one. Sorry)

November 23, 2013

Discovering Netflix

Still playing with Netflix? I think I'm watching nothing but at the moment. I've just finished the final season of Breaking Bad (I was already on season 4 via my laptop's Netflix before it turned up on TiVo) and I can't rate that show highly enough - it really does live up to the hype. How UK broadcasters ignored this after season 2 is beyond me - better than anything on Sky Atlantic or anywhere if you ask me.
My family are also enjoying Firefly and I think we'll be dipping in to the Spacey House of Cards before long. And the temptation to re-visit the entire run of Battlestar Galatica in HD is probably too great for lil' ol' me. The TV back catalogues available really are first class, and most of the recent ones are in Super HD, full 1080p. The series from BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are great too, although I haven't noticed many in HD yet. Not bad for a free service for the next six months if you're on VIP or Premier.
But I can't pretend to understand which studios have signed up to provide films to Netflix in the UK. For example, I'm not aware of any of the following appearing on Sky Movies yet: The Hobbit, Unexpected Journey; The Raid; Seven Psychopaths; The Woman in Black; Hansel & Gretel; Magic Mike; Lawless; Gambit; Amour and even the Hunger Games, yet they're all on Netflix UK. Also, why all the great Pixar movies...except the three Toy Stories? Very odd. Does anyone know how this works?
BTW, the quickest way to launch Netflix: go to channel 204 and press the red button.

November 22, 2013

Calling Virgin Media

If you dial 150 from a VM landline it's free, but it can prove expensive from a mobile if you're on hold for a while. Android or Apple mobile users though can use the Smart Call App to dial 150 and it's free.
Also, if you don't like dealing with the offshore support team it's best to call VM during off hours and you get the UK call centre for TV and account queries in my experience.

http://my.virginmedia.com/my-apps/smartcall/overview.html 

November 18, 2013

US Netflix on TV gets a major update

I doubt we'll see this immediately on TiVo, but here's what we can expect next...

Netflix On TV Gets A Major Makeover

(From Netflix)
Around the world our members stream a lot of programmes and films via their televisions, through a Smart TV app or through internet-connected devices such as game consoles, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players. In fact, the majority of the more than one billion hours our members watch each month is done on a TV.

Today we are excited to unveil the biggest update to our TV experience in Netflix history. This update improves the Netflix TV experience for Netflix members around the world, and for the first time extends rich features to platforms such as Roku, Smart TV and Blu-ray players as well as PlayStation and Xbox 360.

More than a year and half in the making, this new experience evolved through a process of design exploration, iteration and testing that extended throughout all parts of the Netflix TV experience. We set out to deliver an update that would make it even easier to discover something great to watch and we think we succeeded.



After starting Netflix, you’ll immediately notice the cinematic and rich visual experience. As you navigate, three large images for each programme and film provide much more context about a title. We also added a shorter, more descriptive synopsis as well as personalised information to provide more detail about why you should watch a specific title. This personalised information can be based on your social network, viewing history or taste preferences.



As you look at the details of a particular title, you’ll see a broader synopsis and more detail on the cast. For TV shows we have added a refined episode selector that uses images for each episode along with a synopsis.

Searching for something specific? Search is now much more visual, designed for use on TV screens and providing results for titles as well as for actors and directors.

Our popular section for kids also has the new design. The kids area also uses a subtle blue background and subtle “kids” label so parents can see from a distance that kids are using the appropriate part of Netflix. This update also extends the kids experience to Roku and some Smart TVs for the first time.

A few other notable aspects of this major TV experience update:
  • Support for Netflix Profiles across all devices
  • Support for voice on Xbox 360
  • Support for pointer-based navigation on Smart TVs
  • A redesign of post-play, the feature that automatically starts the next episode of a TV programme or displays recommendations after watching a film
The updated Netflix TV experience rolls out globally beginning on 13th Nov and will take about two weeks to reach all devices. The update will go to devices including PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Roku 3, and new and future Smart TVs and Blu-ray players. In addition, some recent Smart TVs and Blu-ray players may receive this based on manufacturer’s update plans. Additional devices, including other Roku boxes, will be added at a later date.

We hope you enjoy the update. For us, this has been one of our biggest and most exciting projects and we are thrilled to finally share it with you!

Chris and the Netflix TV team.

Chris Jaffe is vice president of product innovation at Netflix

What's new on Netflix

It's not the prettiest site I've seen, but this site has the latest content added to Netflix each week: http://uk.istreamguide.com/

Does anyone know if content is removed from Netflix on a regular basis, or does it stay there indefinitely?

November 17, 2013

Netflix Super HD

So what is this "Super HD" that I can get on most movies and TV series on my TiVo's Netflix App?
BLOODY AWESOME PICTURE QUALITY is what I see! Here's some background from the Netflix official blog:

Highest Quality HD Now Available To All Netflix Members

All Netflix members, regardless of their Internet service provider (ISP), now have access to the highest quality HD streams available on Netflix.

This means that the great TV shows and movies on Netflix will look even better on HD screens with a higher bit rate stream, Super HD, that applies less compression to the 1080p image.

We initially rolled out Super HD in January only through ISPs with a direct connection to Netflix. Based on the performance data we’ve seen, and in response to member requests, we are now expanding availability to give all our members the ability to enjoy Netflix in the best possible quality.

Netflix uses “adaptive streaming” to dynamically adjust the video quality based on the available bandwidth. This means that the ability to receive Super HD depends on broadband quality and performance. Netflix members who subscribe to an ISP with a direct Netflix connection will get the best experience. Find out more about ISP performance by consulting the Netflix ISP Speed Index.

Note that HD and Super HD are only available on certain titles and can only be displayed on devices that support HD. More detail is available in the Netflix Help Center

VMHD blog adds Netflix content

I did think of creating a separate Netflix blog but frankly just don't have the time. Instead, there'll be increased Netflix posting on VMHD for the foreseeable future as I learn more about the service via TiVo. Let me know what you think.
Nialli

November 15, 2013

Netflix remote shortcut?

Still playing with Netflix and the updated TiVo software (that SuperHD is AWESOME!) but one question for you guys and gals - has anyone found a shortcut on the TiVo remote to jump straight to the Netflix screen? I can't find one. Failing that, a short cut to the Apps or Favourite Apps screen?
At the moment it's a fair few presses to launch (albeit quick to load after the first time). Browsing through the selections is a little tedious on the TiVo - Search capability is nice and prompt though.

November 12, 2013

Netflix on TiVo FAQ

Check out this page's FAQ - it seems to answer most of the questions I have
http://store.virginmedia.com/digital-tv/on-demand/netflix.html 

Netflix free for six months for VIP and Premier Collection customers

Virgin Media lights up TV screens with Netflix launch
●        Netflix app now available in over 1.8 million Virgin Media TiVo homes
●        Customers taking a Premiere or VIP Collection eligible for a six-month gift subscription to Netflix
●        Unbeatable choice of latest blockbusters now available on Virgin Media
Netflix launches on Virgin Media TiVo today, bringing critically acclaimed original series including House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black, as well as Netflix exclusives like the hit series Breaking Bad, to over 1.8 million UK homes1.
The brand new Netflix app complements Virgin Media’s huge collection of On Demand entertainment, with over 6,000 hours all ready to watch instantly. This includes an unbeatable choice of films from Virgin Movies, Sky Movies, PictureBox and now Netflix, the world’s leading internet television network, alongside dedicated movie channels such as Film4 and TCM.
New and existing Virgin Media customers can enjoy an unprecedented six month gift subscription to Netflix if they sign-up to Virgin Media’s Premiere or VIP Collections2.  Virgin Media TiVo customers on other packages will be able to make the most of the one-month free trial offered to all new Netflix members.


Virgin Media viewers can easily search and browse Netflix’s acclaimed line-up and right across Virgin TV’s entire choice of entertainment, including content apps such as BBC iPlayer and catch-up TV from all the UK’s terrestrial broadcasters, Virgin Movies and complete series of On Demand television.
Dana Strong, Virgin Media’s chief operating officer, said: “With the addition of our Netflix app, Virgin Media customers have an unbeatable line-up of movies and TV series to choose from. Whether it’s part of a subscription or pay-per-view, Virgin Media TiVo will help you find everything from the classic gem you’ve always wanted to watch to this summer’s biggest hits, all seamlessly integrated for simple, easy viewing.
“People love watching with Virgin Media TiVo and we continue to lead the way as the fastest growing pay TV service in the country. In two years, 1.8 million homes have signed up to Virgin Media TiVo and what we believe is the best way to watch television.”
Bill Holmes, global head of business development, Netflix, said: “By partnering with Virgin Media we’re bringing an amazing Netflix experience to millions of TV fans and movie lovers.”
Following a successful pilot, Netflix is available in the Apps & Games section of Virgin Media TiVo and coincides with the latest updates to Virgin Media TiVo for all customers. From greater energy efficiency for each set-top box, to improved WishLists and recommendations, Virgin Media continues to develop the service, making Virgin Media TiVo the best way to watch TV, ever.

couple of foot notes on the press release I missed:

1 The Netflix app roll-out is underway and will be complete by 15th November
2 Customers already taking the Premiere or VIP Collections package will need to re-contract for another 12 months to enjoy the six month gift subscription to Netflix. Limited availability. After the initial promotion period Netflix will cost £5.99 on a month-by-month basis.

November 07, 2013

TiVo and Android TV Anywhere

Just heard today that the TiVo roll out should be all completed for November 14th and the TV Anywhere for Android is to be released around November 18th, barring any last minute changes.

TiVo Netflix update, update

Areas added Nov 6
Coventry Warwick Reading Leeds Birmingham Dundee Edinburgh

Areas added Nov 7
Northampton Guildford Glasgow Cardiff Southampton Derby Southport

November 05, 2013

Update on the TiVo Netflix update

The following areas have received our new TiVo update today:

  • Nottingham
  • Grimsby
  • Belfast
  • Swansea
  • Brighton
  • Wearside (Sunderland)
  • Preston
We appear to have moved on from the Pilot and are now seeing a full roll out. Check here for daily updates.

November 03, 2013

Shows unavailable on Now TV live streaming

Quite a list, but at least they communicate it via this Sky forum

Here's what wasn't on Now TV yesterday:

DateChannelShowStartEnd
01/11/13Sky 1Jingle All The Way23:0000:45
01/11/13Sky LivingThe Mob Doctor23:0000:00
02/11/13Comedy CentralThe Office01:3002:00
02/11/13Sky AtlanticHouse Of Lies01:4002:15
02/11/13Sky 1Futurama02:4503:00
02/11/13Comedy CentralKing of Queens02:5503:45
02/11/13Sky LivingMedium03:3004:20
02/11/13Sky 1Game Changers09:0010:00
02/11/13Sky AtlanticER12:0013:00
02/11/13Sky AtlanticER13:0014:00
02/11/13Sky LivingThe Biggest Loser USA14:0015:00
02/11/13Sky AtlanticER14:0015:00
02/11/13DisneyStardust14:0016:20
02/11/13Sky LivingThe Biggest Loser USA15:0016:00
02/11/13MTVThe Fresh Prince of Bel Air18:0019:30
02/11/13Sky 1The Simpsons19:0019:30
02/11/13Sky 1The Simpsons19:3020:00
02/11/13Sky 1Jingle All The Way20:0021:45
03/11/13MTVSouth Park01:0003:00
03/11/13Sky 1Futurama01:4502:00
03/11/13Comedy CentralKing of Queens02:5503:4

November 02, 2013

Sky Atlantic on the Now TV box - first impressions

Well, that was a disappointing start. Plugged in my new Now TV box (HDMI, power) and turned to Sky Atlantic and... no ER. Ho hum. I'm not sure how many other shows are going to be missing but it looks like Sky have scrimped on the "all platforms" rights on some US imports. This could get frustrating.
Fortunately, the next show I try is Blue Bloods, the Tom Selleck Atlantic exclusive. Now this is more like it. Haven't got a clue what's going on as I've never seen it before, but the picture quality is very good on my 32in - certainly at the high end of the standard definition spectrum (think BBC1 SD rather than 5USA). I've seen worse HD picture quality to be truthful. No buffering or blocking whatsoever either. I'm impressed.
It's the same with the Atlantic On Demand content too - a few minutes of Boardwalk Empire (season 4) and Attenborough's Flying Monsters and the PQ holds up extremely well. It's a sharp and well balanced picture for SD, good colour saturation and nicely detailed. I hadn't expected this at all.
Sadly, one of my expectations, limited On Demand shows, proves accurate. There's no opportunity to catch up with the Atlantic headline acts - Games of Thrones and Mad Men are both currently absent - but there are the last month's broadcast episodes of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Newsroom, Hello Ladies, Veep and a better selection of the UK Atlantic originals Alan Partridge's Mid Morning Matters (6 eps from season 1); The British (7 eps from season 1); 3 episodes of Attenborough's Kingdom of Plants; the Jack Dee panel show Don't Sit in the Front Row; Falcon (4 eps); Fish Town (10 eps); Hunderby (all 8); The Tunnel and something I'd never heard of called This is Jinsy. There are also 13 episodes from season 1 of Rescue Me - I didn't know that was on Atlantic.
There are ad breaks but they don't feature ads - just a short Atlantic promo. Maybe the ads will follow as the service matures?
It's a fair line up, somewhat light on the heavyweight imports and certainly short of the Sky Box Sets they have on the satellite service - for example, The Wire ain't there. With HBO it's catch up only by the look of things. Disappointing compared to Netflix's complete runs of Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Arrested Developments  etc. But at £4.99 a month, it's good, and if I had just Freeview, it would be very attractive indeed - Sky 1, Fox, Atlantic, Living, Arts 1, Gold etc. Sky has got a winner here methinks. Clever buggers. But remember though that £4.99 is tagged as only an "introductory" price. There's no word yet what the regular pricing will be.
The box is tiny and discrete, the remote and interface are fairly snappy, and although the EPG is a little bit of a struggle to get the hang of that's probably just down to it being unfamiliar. Did I mention the audio? I only have stereo (which sounds good) but 5.1 is an option too for those better equipped than me (!).
It's good. And for a tenner, a neat box. I had a quick look at the iPlayer and the PQ was fine on HD but very poor on SD. Not as good as VM's on either count.
So they're my first impressions. Neat. And I have Sky Atlantic at long, long last. What's the betting it will be on Virgin Media in the next few weeks now? Ho well, at least I've not signed up to an expensive contract.
BTW, Stephen Merchant's Hello Ladies is pretty darn funny, but the second episode PQ is a little soft to my eyes.
Any questions or things you'd like me to check out on my Now TV box, let me know.

Android TV Anywhere update

I've had confirmation from a very reliable chap at Virgin Media that the Android version of TV Anywhere should be released this month. There's no official confirmation just yet but it's happening. Having used the iOS version on my iPad and iPhone for a while I think it's fantastic. I used it daily to set recordings and check the schedules.

November 01, 2013

Now TV

My little Now TV box arrived in the post this morning. Sky Atlantic ahoy! I'll set it up this weekend and let you know how it performs. (And, yes, I know Sky Atlantic has very little on at the moment but at just a tenner to buy and a fiver for a month, one has to try these things!)

October 31, 2013

Virgin launches SmartCall on iPhone and Android

A new app from Virgin Media lets customers use their landlines through a smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection.
A new app from Virgin Media lets the VM landline customers make unlimited calls from their home phones - regardless of where in the world they are.
SmartCall allows users to use their Android or iOS devices (including the non-phone iPod Touch) as if they were their home phones instead, so long as a Wi-Fi connection is available.
The app is free to Virgin Media home phone talk plan customers and available on any carrier - youd don't need to be a Virgin Mobile customer.

I've had a quick play and it seems to work well: here's the Apple link for those who want to give it a try

Cover Art

Virgin Media SmartCall

Virgin Media
Category: Social Networking
Updated: 28 Oct 2013

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 19 Ratings

TiVo update and Netflix roll out

Seems to be underway. I've heard that folk in Hartlepool and Bristol have been updated overnight. I don't have any details as to the plan, but the official pilot blog may have more details as the rollout progresses.
Update: Teesside (Stockton), Avon (Bristol) and Croydon all updated overnight, too. Spiderplant reports that there'll be no rollout plan published and that the rollout won't be completed by the 6th (contrary to reports elsewhere).

October 29, 2013

Sky adds Sky Atlantic (and on demand) to Now TV

If you want Sky Atlantic and are prepared to shell out a fiver a month for the pleasure, Sky has added an Entertainment package of ten channels to Now TV for an "introductory price" of £4.99 a month (no contract).
The channels are Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts 1, Discovery, Fox, Comedy Central, MTV, Gold and Disney.
That looks pretty good to me, especially when you can buy the tiny, acclaimed NowTV box for just a tenner. How long they'll keep that price that low I don't know, nor do I know what the picture quality is like, but you can get a little more info on the NowTV site.
Bit of a BT / TalkTalk killer I think, and priced just below the monthly Netflix and LoveFilm alternatives.

October 27, 2013

Liberty Global's Horizon box

There has been some conjecture around the business that Liberty Global's strategy is to standardise on a single set top box standard across it's different global companies, including Virgin Media.
Although I'm assured that there are no immediate plans to replace TiVo, a quick search on Liberty Global's own box, the Horizon, suggests it's a less-than-stable rocky affair, with some similar features to the TiVo but seemingly a lot less mature. That makes me a little nervous. TiVo ain't perfect, but it is the best box around these days, still streets ahead of the Sky boxes and don't get me started on the BT and YouView alternatives.
The Horizon is made by Samsung (as are some TiVos), but is certainly not a "looker" to my taste. It looks like it could sit actually under the TV, which would be useful for some. The remote looks some relic from the eighties.
If you want to know more there's an interesting 2012 brochure you can download but to my eyes this looks like it would be a step back from what we have today. It's been rolled out at Liberty Global's companies in Switzerland and Holland but not without problems. One thing I will say for TiVo (which I've had since VM introduced it) is that it's a reliable performer that's never let me down.
Anyway, contrary to some speculation elsewhere, we have TiVo for the foreseeable future. The Liberty Global Mike Fries CEO was recently interviewed in the Hollywood Reporter:
Discussing future sources of growth, the CEO said: "Over five years, we're less about connecting more homes." Instead, growth will mostly come from "getting connected homes to do more with us." Giving subscribers more value and improving customer relationships.
Fries said Wednesday that pay TV operators do certain things really well, such as offering the best content and the biggest distribution pipes. But he also highlighted areas where improvements are needed, such as in moving content across platforms and improving user interfaces. He said Liberty Global is trying to solve these issues with DVR partner TiVo and its next-generation set-top-boxes Horizon.
In the U.K., Virgin Media will for now continue to work with TiVo instead of launching Horizon. "TiVo has promised us innovation" to move into a similar direction as Horizon, Fries said.
Interesting times. Meanwhile, expect the latest TiVo software updates, including the arrival of (cue fanfare) HD Netflix, over the next week or so.

October 26, 2013

Traffic management cut again

Virgin Media has offered a boost to its broadband customers by relaxing its traffic management policy once again. Everyone's favourite broadband provider has cut its maximum peak speed reduction for downloads from 40 per cent to just 16 per cent, reports ISPreview.co.uk.

October 25, 2013

Free BT Sports and ESPN HD October 25 - 28th

BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN channels including HD will be available to all Virgin TV customers for free from 6am Friday 25th October until 6am Monday 28th October.
There's quite a bit on the channels this weekend, including Crystal Palace v Arsenal, live German and Italian football, Aviva Premiership rugby and Major League Baseball.

Premier Sports on Virgin Media

Premier Sports in standard definition has appeared on channel 551 this morning, just in time for the Rugby League World Cup. More information on the channel can be found here.
Apparently it's free on all packages until the end of the year then £7.99 a month next year, but there's still no official word from either Virgin or Premier Sports on the deal - but the channel has been broadcasting since the early hours of this morning (25th).

October 24, 2013

Sherlock's return announced

My favourite UK show EVER (steady on, old chap) is returning soon, but for some reason the BBC has still to announce the actual broadcast dates for Sherlock season 3. But the US broadcaster PBS has let the cat out the bag by revealing that Sherlock will return to PBS Masterpiece on January 19th.
This is apparently the first time the mystery-thriller’s U. air date has been announced before the BBC reveals its UK premiere date (the BBC has the “first window” rights to air the show, so we can at least take heart in knowing they will almost certainly get season 3 sometime before January 19th). My money would be on the three feature length episodes appearing around Christmas and the New Year.
More details at Entertainment Weekly.

October 23, 2013

Netflix numbers up more than 30% globally

Netflix's investment into original programming has paid off, with global subscriber numbers jumping past 40 million and profits quadrupling from the same period last year.
"We are very pleased to have over 40 million members, up from less than 30 million just one year ago," Netflix said to shareholders. "The Netflix original series Orange is the New Black is a critical and popular success, and our earlier series House of Cardsis the first internet TV series to win a Primetime Emmy Award. We launched our 41st country and the Dutch seem to like Netflix."The online video streaming firm said its net profit was $32m in the three months to the end of September, compared to an $8m income in the same quarter of 2012.
The company said it was hoping to hit a net income of around $37m in the fourth quarter with an extra 3.3 million users.
Since original programming has done so much for the firm's fortunes, Netflix is now planning to double its investment in making new shows, although that will still be less than ten per cent of its overall content expenses

Netflix will be arriving on TiVo in the next month or two. The current pilot has now been rolled out to the Manchester area and it sounds like it is just about ready to go nationwide. Still no word on pricing through Virgin Media

October 20, 2013

Media Boy reports the following to appear before the end of the year

Media Boy's posted an amazing list of missing SD and HD channels and I'll be stunned if they all arrive in the next few months. I've not heard any confirmation on any of these, which are pretty much all that we're missing on Virgin Media worth having:
I can now reveal that the following channels should launch before 2014 on Virgin Media:
Sky Atlantic HD
Sky News HD
Sky Sports F1 HD
Sky Sports 3 HD
Sky Sports 4 HD
Sky Sports News HD
Channel 4 +1 HD
Disney Channel HD Disney XD HD
MGM HD
Universal Channel HD
Add in the confirmed BBC News, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC3 and BBC4 HD launches and that's an early Christmas present for all VM customers!

October 19, 2013

Bloody hell ITV4!

What's the point of having ITV4 in HD when they only show Scorsese's fab Casino in upscaled SD?!

October 17, 2013

Updates on the TiVo and Netflix pilot

If you want to keep tabs on how the pilot for the forthcoming update to TiVo, including the introduction of the Netflix App, is going, VM has a small public community board running at http://community.virginmedia.com/t5/TiVo-and-Netflix-Pilot/bd-p/tivopilot

October 15, 2013

TiVo update FAQ

Due in the next few weeks, along with the arrival of the Netflix App, is a major update to the TiVo software. Here's the VM FAQ for people who are in the trial areas:
 
So, what’s new with TiVo?
 
Even more great entertainment at your fingertips with Netflix
 
You can now watch Netflix using your TiVo box if you’re a Netflix customer already or by registering atwww.netflix.com/virginmedia. To see what’s on Netflix hit the Home button, go to Apps & Games > TV & Movies, and select the Netflix icon. You can also find Netflix films and shows using TiVo search.
 
A More energy efficient TiVo box
 
You can now save energy and money on your electricity bill by automatically setting your TiVo box to go into standby mode, this means you won’t have to switch off your box at the mains any more. Even when in standby mode your TiVo box won’t miss a show – it wakes itself up to make any recordings you’ve requested. 
 
You can set to go into standby if you haven’t used your box for two or four hours. To change your default setting, go to Help & Settings > Settings > Devices > Power Saving Settings.
 
When your box is in standby mode, you’ll see a red light to the left on the front panel, but no picture or sound. Waking your box is easy, just press any of these buttons on your TiVo remote:
 
• Home
• TV
• Channel up/down
• Any number key
• Power
 
It’s easier to find the stars and shows you love with WishList™

We’ve made WishLists™ even easier to set up. Just let TiVo know the actors, directors or shows you can’t bear to miss and TiVo will automatically record anything that fits the bill. And you can do it without interrupting what you’re watching.
 
We’ve even redesigned the WishList™ menus in HD, so they look that little bit nicer.
 
Clever TiVo will make even better Suggestions for you
 
TiVo will suggest more of the shows and films you love based on the stuff you record and give the Thumbs Up. 
 
Discover your new Discovery Bar
 
Your brand new Discovery bar makes it much clearer why we’ve suggested films and programmes for you to watch, whether it’s a live sports event, it’s similar to other programmes you’ve enjoyed, or simply because our team have handpicked it for you to enjoy.
 
Accessibility
 
We’ve now introduced high contrast displays for some of our screens, these include our full screen guide, mini guide and channel banner.
 
To turn this on go to Home >Help & Settings > Settings > Display and Subtitles > High Contrast Display
 
Note: If you were part of the earlier phase of this pilot in Peterborough, Crawley, Andover, Londonderry and Swindon your TiVo box was set to automatically go into Standby if it is not used for four hours. To change the default to use of one the other energy saving modes or to switch this off go to Help & Settings > Settings > Devices > Power Saving Settings.
 
To wake your TiVo box up again just press the <Home><Power>, <TV>, <Channel up/down> or Any number key on your TiVo remote.


October 10, 2013

Live football - confirmed televised fixtures for December and New Year

BT Sport has confirmed coverage of the following games at the end of the year:

  • Crystal Palace v West Ham - Tuesday December 3, 8pm
  • Swansea v Newcastle - Wednesday December 4, 7.45pm
  • Manchester United v Newcastle - Saturday December 7, 12.45pm
  • Manchester City v Arsenal - Saturday December 14, 12.45pm
  • Liverpool v Cardiff - Saturday December 21, 12.45pm
  • West Ham v Arsenal - Boxing Day, 3pm
  • Manchester City v Liverpool - Boxing Day, 5.30pm
  • Southampton v Chelsea - New Year's Day, 3pm
  • Manchester United v Tottenham - New Year's Day, 5.30pm

And here are the confirmed Sky Sports games for the same period:

  • Sat 7: Sunderland v Tottenham (ko 5.30pm) 
  • Sun 8: Fulham v Aston Villa (ko 1.30pm) 
  • Sun 8: Arsenal v Everton (ko 4pm) 
  • Mon 9: Swansea City v Hull City (ko 8pm) 
  • Sat 14: Hull City v Stoke City (ko 5.30pm) 
  • Sun 15: Aston Villa v Man Utd (ko 1.30pm) 
  • Sun 15: Tottenham v Liverpool (ko 4pm) 
  • Sun 22: Southampton v Tottenham (ko 1.30pm) 
  • Sun 22: Swansea City v Everton (ko 4pm) 
  • Mon 23: Arsenal v Chelsea (ko 8pm) 
  • Thu 26: Hull City v Man Utd (ko 12.45pm) 
  • Sat 28: West Ham v West Brom (ko 12.45pm) 
  • Sat 28: Cardiff City v Sunderland (ko 5.30pm) 
  • Sun 29: Newcastle United v Arsenal (ko 1.30pm) 
  • Sun 29: Chelsea v Liverpool (ko 4pm) 
  • Wed Jan 1: Swansea v Man City (ko 12.45pm)
Looking at this I think BT Sport has a few standout games (Man C v Arsenal, Man C v Liverpool, Man U v Spurs) which stacks up pretty well against the Sky headliners (Spurs v Liverpool, Arsenal v Chelsea, Chelsea v Liverpool). Good to see Sky getting a serious challenge after all this season.




Netflix

I'm thinking of starting a companion blog to VMHD, concentrating on the new Netflix service arriving on TiVo in the coming weeks. To this end I've set up a small poll (top right) to gauge interest in the new service. Let me know what you think.
Nialli

September 29, 2013

New Movies on Netflix

With Netflix coming to TiVo by the end of the year, I thought I'd have a quick hunt around to see what, if any, new movies are showing on the service. Of course, Sky moved in quickly to tie up the biggest deals with all the major Hollywood studios as soon as OFCOM turned its back, but that's not to say Netflix is limited to the paltry selection of older movies that you find on VM's own Picturebox service (which at best resembles those you may find in a second-hand DVD shop).
For some curious reason the UK Netflix site tucks away its movies and (excellent) TV line up and it looks like you have to sign up before exploring, but you don't. Click on this link Netflix and have a look through the links on the left hand side to see more.
Here are some of the more recent films you can get via Netflix in the UK:

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Hunger Games
  • Thor
  • 21 Jump Street
  • Lawless
  • Magic Mike
  • Cowboys & Aliens
  • Cabin in the Woods
  • Amour
  • Gambit
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • Hope Springs
  • Drive (the Ryan Gosling one)
  • Woman in BlacK
I can't see any clear logic on what studios are signed up with Netflix for UK movies as these seem to be from all the big studios but this selection alone features a number of movies yet to debut on Sky Movies. And word is they'll be in 1080p and 5.1 when the service hits your TiVo.
Anyone else getting excited? I watch Breaking Bad on Netflix on my laptop, iPad and on the TV via my daughter's Wii (sadly, only in SD) so its arrival on TiVo is eagerly awaited in my front room.

UPDATE: PLEASE READ COMMENTS BELOW.

September 24, 2013

More4 HD on October 1st

Media Boy has posted on Cable Forum that More4 will launch on VM on Oct 1st on channel 203. Not quite the must-see channel it was when originally launched but still a worthwhile addition to the line up. Thanks, VM!

September 10, 2013

Netflix trial areas

The pilot areas for Netflix to be rolled out and trialed are:
  • Peterborough 
  • Crawley 
  • Andover 
  • Londonderry 
  • Swindon 
A full roll out is being planned for a later stage to cover other areas.

Netflix coming to Virgin Media - full press release

  • Virgin Media TiVo customers to access Netflix app via their set-top box
  • Broad variety of great series and films, including Breaking BadHouse of Cards and Arrested Development, to be available instantly
  • Pilot to 40,000 Virgin Media TiVo homes begins this week, full launch to follow

Virgin Media today announced an agreement that will bring Netflix, the world's leading Internet TV network, onto a pay-TV platform for the first time. Using the Netflix app, Virgin Media TiVo households will be able to watch award-nominated Netflix series, documentaries, comedy and kids titles through their set-top box. Netflix will be available to 1.7 million Virgin Media TiVo homes this year, starting with a pilot launching this week.

The addition of the Netflix app to Virgin Media TiVo, the fastest growing pay-TV service in the UK, will allow viewers to discover critically acclaimed Netflix original series House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black and Netflix exclusives like the hit series Breaking Bad. 

The Netflix app complements Virgin Media’s ever-expanding collection of over 6,000 hours of On Demand entertainment, all ready to watch instantly. Virgin Media TiVo customers will be able to easily search and browse titles across Virgin TV’s entire collection of films and TV programmes as well as from Netflix and other content apps including BBC iPlayer.

Alongside catch-up and On Demand TV, Virgin Media viewers are already able to rent hundreds of the latest blockbusters from Virgin Movies, subscribe to Sky Movies and PictureBox and enjoy channels including Film4 and TCM, all available in HD.  

Dana Strong, Virgin Media’s chief operating officer, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing yet another groundbreaking service onto TV screens in millions of Virgin Media homes. Netflix is a fabulous addition to Virgin Media TiVo, enabling our customers to enjoy even more of their favourite shows and movies simply and easily – all through their TV set-top box and at outstanding value.

“Virgin Media TiVo offers different ways to watch, either subscription or pay per view, all seamlessly integrated for simple, intuitive viewing so there’s a world of great entertainment at your fingertips and everyone can be sure of the perfect TV moment.”

Bill Holmes, global head of business development, Netflix, said: “The UK has given Netflix a fantastic welcome and we’re excited to be partnering with Virgin Media to bring an amazing Netflix experience to Virgin Media customers.”  

The pilot begins this week with around 40,000 Virgin Media TiVo households already selected to use the Netflix app. For the pilot, the Netflix application will be available in the Apps & Games section of Virgin Media TiVo with Netflix members able to log-in using their existing Netflix credentials and new members able to sign up for Netflix via the app. Netflix will be rolled out to all Virgin Media TiVo customers following the successful completion of the pilot later this year.

Through a dedicated broadband connection built into each Virgin Media TiVo set-top box, viewers will be able to experience a brilliant, HD big screen TV Netflix experience. Virgin Media TiVo households with Virgin Media broadband can also make full use of their superfast 30Mb, 60Mb or 120Mb broadband speeds in addition to the dedicated TiVo connection.

The Netflix roll-out coincides with the latest updates to Virgin Media TiVo for all customers. From greater energy efficiency for each set-top box, to improved WishLists and recommendations, Virgin Media continues to develop the service, making Virgin Media TiVo the best way to watch TV, ever.  

September 07, 2013

Sky Atlantic, News and Sports News in HD this week?

A short while ago BomberAF posted on Cable Forum, correctly, that BT Sports and HD would launch on Virgin Media and, although he was a little out on dates, he was on the money.
So it will be interesting to see what happens this week, as the last post he left of CF said that Sky Atlantic, Sky News and Sky Sports News will all appear in HD on Virgin Media before September 14th. Which is next Saturday.
Finger's crossed. I've just found Game of Thrones information when I clicked on the "If you like this..." for Justified but that may be a hangover from when season one appeared on Sky1 a while back, but you never know.

On Demand HD error 6096

Anyone else experienced a problem with Sky Movies On Demand recently?
I recorded the movie The Constant Gardener a few weeks back on Sky Action in HD, but when I played it back I found the sound was out of sync slightly, to the point I thought it unwatchable.
Fear not, I thought, it'll be in On Demand. Sure enough, it was, but every time I tried to access the HD version I got the error 6096. I though this may be a temporary demand problem, but other HD films I tried played fine, so why this one?
In the end we gave up with HD and watched The Constant Gardener in SD - a fantastic film if you haven't seen it but some of it's visual impact is lost in standard def.
Any idea what the problem might be? Not had a problem with On Demand for some time, but I had this problem on Friday evening and still have it now trying to access the film on Saturday afternoon. Odd, especially as all the other HD movies I've looked at in the Sky collection play fine.

UPDATE: Thanks to Spiderplant for explaining that this error means that the movie at the local headend needs reloading by Virgin staff and he'll sort it. Thanks fella!

September 06, 2013

Childish VM support tweet

Sometimes Virgin's off-the-wall communications to frustrated customers can come across as too flippant, especially to new customers who are experiencing problems. A friend at work sent me this tweet they got when they experienced multiple problems with both broadband and TV services having only recently joined VM from TalkTalk. They were not impressed, and are now seriously considering leaving VM.
I'm all for a less formal communications but this perhaps oversteps the mark and comes across as childish. As the kids would say, #notimpressed

August 20, 2013

New TiVo Roamio boxes launched in the US

TiVo has launched a new Roamio box in the US. There's no word if this hardware will arrive as part of the Virgin Media service but it shows where TiVo are taking their products.
Nice looking box. More at http://www.tivo.com/


Film4 HD is still a Virgin Media exclusive

If you ever thought VM took an age to launch an HD channel whilst Sky seems to fire them up at a stunning pace, spare a thought for the poor Sky customer hankering for Film4 in high def. Sky announced the channel as coming soon last year but it's still not there and is still vaguely touted as "coming soon later this year". Virgin customers have enjoyed this superior movie channel in HD as part of its XL package since July 2010. And the picture quality on Film4 HD knocks those premium-priced Sky movie channels out of the park.

August 16, 2013

UPDATE: One more to make it a golden 50 HD channels on Virgin Media

With the arrival of ESPN and BT Sports 1 and 2, we now have 49 HD channels on Virgin Media. What should be 50th? My vote would be for Sky Atlantic (yeah, I know, "change the record, Nialli").

UPDATE: How wrong am I? Turns out we already have fifty, as something called as NHK World HD is available on Channel 625 (XL pack). I've never watched it as I never venture through the 600s in the channel listings.


August 15, 2013

BomberAF posts today on Sky Atlantic HD and other missing Sky HD basics

BomberAF has posted over on Cable Forum's Coming Soon To Virgin Media thread today that Sky Atlantic, Sky News and Sky Sports News will all appear in HD on Virgin Media before September 14th. He was on the money with BT and ESPN (albeit a little wayward with the date) so let's hope he's right with this one. Odd that his CF profile has him only as a Sky customer though. And, of course, very un-PC for me to assume Bomber's male...