July 30, 2013

BT Sport set to strike Virgin Media carriage deal

Broadcast is reporting that Virgin Media is poised to close a deal to carry BT Sport's three sports channels on its cable TV platform, making them available to a further 4m potential customers. No further word on Sky Atlantic: I'd expect the BT Sports deal to be conculded first. More details at http://mediaboyblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/broadcast-bt-sport-set-to-strike-virgin.html

July 27, 2013

Sky Atlantic update

Confirmed by a number of sources: Sky staff have now been given strict instructions to cease and desist from claiming exclusivity for Sky Atlantic on the Sky platform.

UPDATE: Posted on Sky Community forum http://helpforum.sky.com/t5/Sky-Programming-Channels/Virgin-Sky-Atlantic-August-1st/td-p/1198530:
"i will categorically state that the inference of any "cease and desist" relative to Sky staff and Sky Atlantic is completely unfounded."

July 26, 2013

Now TV box launched for £9.99

Sky's fledgling internet TV service has launched its own set top box for just £9.99:
Now TV has unveiled a £9.99 internet streaming box. The box also gives access to BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, BBC News, Sky News, Facebook, Flickr and Spotify through the TV.
The new set-top box connects via HDMI and then allows access via your wi-fi network to services on your telly.
You can buy a day's worth of access to Sky Sports for £9.99, or Sky Movies for £15 a month. New customers get a 30-day free trial of the Sky Movies Pass. Sky claims that it will add more "content and apps" to the Now TV box in the coming months. but there's still no word on the promised Sky basics channels including (Atlantic) that were supposed to be available via NowTV by now. I guess it's fair to say that when they do appear on this platform they'll cost as much as they do via dish - Sky's not going to undercut its own service.
Sky says the new Now TV box is "smaller than a beer mat", measuring 8.4 x 8.4 x 2.4cm. It's apparently based on the Roku LT, so will support 720p but not 1080p via its HDMI port, and all streaming is via 802.11n wi-fi as there's no built-in Ethernet. Available now from nowtv.com.
The future's almost certainly IP TV, and at just under a tenner this is an affordable alternative to Apple TV and other similar services.

Sky Atlantic and BT Sports, coming in August?

I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that the posts from BomberAF on Cable Forum are credible and looking sound. For those who don't know what I'm talking about the guy, who has posted 150 posts over the last four years on the forum, is pretty convincing and definite with what he's been saying. Here are his key posts on the matter:
July 5th: BT Sports will be announced to arrive on VM 1 week before the 1st of August when BT Sport is due to air. The reason they aren't announcing it now is because BT and Sky and VM have agreements with VM to get people to leave VM and switch over to sky or BT. When this time has elapsed as part of this deal BT sport will be announced as arriving on VM when stated and Atlantic shortly after. There will therefore be no reason not to offer Atlantic to VM customers on the XL package as they will lose advertising revenue with people downloading GoT via torrents. I believe that VM will have a wholesale price for VM customers, so it may only cost a little bit more for XL customers than prior with ESPN. It isn't going to cost an extra subscription just the XL price as far as I am aware.
July 6th: VM are getting BT sport and Sky Atlantic.
July 6th: Not almost, is a deal done, just having to keep quiet until they can announce it.
I believe Atlantic will possibly be arriving on the first of August with BT Sport, but if not it should be there in August some time.
July 7th: Atlantic will be launched in full HD, as will BT sport. The other channels that aren't HD will more than likely stay that way.
Hope you're right fella - Sky Atlantic in HD will be a dream come true for this blogger.

July 24, 2013

TiVo on-screen ads appearing

Here's an annoying development: ads appearing as part the on-screen graphics on certain stations on TiVo. Not sure how widespread this is (hadn't seen it myself , so thanks to "Mikthemag" for the info and this picture from CBS Reality.
Anyone else seen it? Pretty intrusive graphic - surely it could have been made a wee bit smaller and maybe below the bar?

July 18, 2013

BT Sports announcement "coming soon"

I've now heard whispers from both BT and VM that a deal's pretty much done and an announcement is imminent. I'd imagine the £12 for SD, £15 for HD, is what we'll see, same as Sky.
Pure speculation ahoy: an alternative would be that VM may subsidise it for the first three months and include it in TV XL. I wouldn't have thought the cost to VM would be that high and it may prove a sufficient lure to retain or attract casual footie fans who don't want the full Sky Sports extravaganza. Not sure how that would sit with BT but I would have thought it would be one of the options Virgin may consider.

July 17, 2013

Keep the sun glasses handy: Virgin add more 3D

Virgin Media press release:
More 3D for Virgin Media TV
·         Sony, Discovery and New Media Vision 3D shows join TV line-up
·         3D blockbusters Life of PiThe Hobbit and Oz the Great and Powerful

Virgin Media, the UK’s leading communications and entertainment company, is adding an array of new 3D titles to its TV service. From July, around 50 hours of 3D content, including stunning shows such as 3D DiveKalahari Meerkats and Monster Trucks will join Virgin Media’s On Demand line-up.

Kevin O’Neil, head of TV product management at Virgin Media said: “3D offers a unique and often breathtaking experience and our customers are making the most of Virgin Media’s 3D On Demand line-up to sit down and try it for themselves. We offer our customers a wide choice of content and 3D at no extra cost is proving to be a valuable addition for many of our TV fans.”

Virgin Media was the first TV service to bring 3D content to UK television screens. Subscribers can already enjoy up to 25 hours of 3D TV content, including everything from eye-popping blockbuster movies to engrossing wildlife shows. Over one million 3D movies and programmes have been watched on Virgin Media’s 3D On Demand service.

Blockbuster movies such as Oz the Great and Powerful, the Oscar-winning Life of Pi and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey are available in 3D this month and will be joined by more exciting titles in the coming months.

3D content on Virgin TV:

Silent Hill: Revelation
Currently available
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Currently available
Life of Pi
Currently available
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Currently available
Wreck-It Ralph
Currently available
Oz the Great and Powerful
Currently available
Jack the Giant Slayer
Available from 22nd Jul
NMV TV shows
Burma 3D
Currently Available
3D Safari
Currently available
3D Dive
Currently Available
Pride of Mongolia
Currently Available
Kalahari Meerkats
Currently available
Bird Park 3D
Currently Available
Moonlight 3D
Coming soon
Car and Driving
Coming soon
Discovery TV Shows
Crazy Land S2
Currently available
Fields of Valour
Currently available
How It’s Made 3D
Currently available
Hillbilly Blood S2
Coming soon
How It’s Made (additional episodes)
Coming soon
Lava Chasers
Coming soon
Monster Trucks 3D
Coming soon
River Monsters
Coming soon
Secrets of the Shaolin
Coming soon
Electric Sky TV shows
Street Dance with Sisco Gomez
Coming soon
Coming soon
Vision TV shows
Fire Ants
Coming soon
Coming soon
Sony TV shows
Scary Tales
Coming soon

July 16, 2013

BBC to launch five more HD channels by early 2014

The BBC has announced that it will launch BBC News HD, BBC3 HD, BBC4 HD, CBeebies HD and CBBC HD by early 2014. It is also working on plans to launch regional variants of BBC1 HD and BBC2 HD for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
BBC director general Tony Hall said: "BBC1 HD and BBC2 HD have already proved to be highly valued by our audiences and I'm delighted that we're able to follow this with the launch of five new subscription-free BBC HD channels by early 2014. These new channels will allow us to showcase more of our programming at its very best."
Separately, Ofcom has announced that it will make space available for 10 additional HD channels on digital terrestrial TV services, with the capacity freed up by the digital switchover last year

July 12, 2013

More on those BT Sport Premiership matches

According to mediaguardian.co.uk:
BT said "we have only used five of our top picks, which means that BT Sport will have another 13 throughout the remainder of the season, so our viewers have many more excellent Premier League games to come."
"In the first 13 Premier League rounds until December, we will show the biggest clubs at least twice including Tottenham taking on serious title contenders in both matches, against Manchester United and Chelsea." BT only has fourth pick of the live matches on 20 rounds of the fixture list but first pick on the other 18, making it the first broadcaster to be able to challenge Sky's claim always to show the biggest clashes.
In all, Sky will show 116 live matches having agreed to pay £2.3bn over three seasons for the privilege. Sky has 12 "first pick" weekends for the remaining 20 rounds of fixtures, while BT will be left with eight. The new entrant also has a further five "first pick" slots in midweek rounds of fixtures, but they must be used before February.
So I'd expect BT to make a push with the Christmas and New Year fixtures, combined with its coverage of the FA Cup. These include the following clashes that will draw bigger audiences:
Dec 14 - Man City v Arsenal, Spurs v Liverpool
Dec 21 - Arsenal v Chelsea
Dec 26 - Man City v Liverpool
Dec 28 - Chelsea v Liverpool
Jan 1 - Man U v Spurs
Jan 18 - Chelsea v Man U
Not sure Liverpool are going to be a top challenger this season, so take them out of the mix and that's just four top games that BT may go for as a first pick.
I'm surprised they didn't go at least for the Man U v Chelsea fixture on the second Sunday of the season - that's the first big one of the season and to find it on Sky Sports shows that BT may be more aggressive than ESPN with the mighty Sky Sports, but they're still very much playing second fiddle. Still, at least for Virgin Media customers it means we're not really missing that much if we don't have the channels at the start of the season, and if we are to be charged for them, many (myself included) may not bother to sign up until much later in the season.

July 11, 2013

BT Sports first twelve live games announced

Still no official confirmation regarding the availability of BT Sports on Virgin Media, but football fans won't be missing much if it isn't available to us. Here are the first dozen games on the channel:

Liverpool vs Stoke City Sat 17th August
Fulham vs Arsenal Sat 24th August
Man City vs Hull City Sat 31st August
Man Utd vs Crystal Palace Sat 14th September
Norwich vs Aston Villa Sat 21st September
Tottenham vs Chelsea Sat 28th September
Man City vs Everton Sat 5th October
Newcastle vs Liverpool Sat 19th October
Crystal Palace vs Arsenal Sat 26th October
Newcastle vs Chelsea Sat 2nd November
Everton vs Liverpool Sat 23rd November
Tottenham vs Man Utd Sat 30th November

Aside from the two Spurs home games (against Chelsea and Man U) and the Merseyside derby (not the match it once was) there's previous little there I personally would sign up for. Meanwhile the Sky Sports matches seem to still be the ones worth paying for:

July 07, 2013

"Sky Atlantic HD coming August 1st"?

Apparently it's coming, in SD and HD, on August 1st. Following the rumour here. I've not heard anything to confirm or deny this.

July 05, 2013

BBC sees the light and abandons 3D TV

The BBC will stop making programmes in 3D at the end of this year at least until 2016 following "disappointing" takeup.

The BBC's head of 3D, Kim Shillinglaw, said that using it in the home is a "hassly" experience and that "I have never seen a very big appetite for 3D television in the UK."

Shillinglaw said the process was still too complex because watching in 3D requires special glasses – either "passive" or "active", depending on the screen. "You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV," she said. "I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way. When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing – I think that's one of the reasons that takeup of 3D TV has been disappointing."

The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who will still be broadcast in 3D, as well as the already-commissioned series Hidden Kingdom. But that will be it. 

Won't miss it myself. Now Sky, with the last remaining 3D channel, really is "the dark side" (geddit?!).

July 04, 2013

Wimbledon in 3D

The free-to-air 3D coverage will be available to viewers with access to a 3D TV set and to the BBC's HD Red Button channel on Virgin Media (but not Sky).
"We're delighted to provide live 3D coverage as this year's Championships reach a climax," said Kim Shillinglaw, head of BBC 3D. "Major UK sporting events are a big part of our trials with 3D content and this allows us to build on our work from previous Wimbledon's and the London 2012 Olympics." Six additional 3D cameras placed around Centre Court will help broadcast the enhanced action from the latter stages of this year's Championships.
The coverage is part of the BBC's two-year trial of producing and distributing 3D content. Wimbledon 3D will be available on the BBC Red Button HD channel on the following platforms

  • Freeview HD (channel 303) 
  • Virgin Media (channel 994) 
  • Freesat (channel 980) 
  • Youview (channel 303) 

Friday, 5 July 1300-2000, Men's semi-finals - 3D Saturday, 6 July 1400-1755 Ladies final - 3D Sunday, 7 July 1400-1800 Men's Final - 3D

Just out of interest, does anyone actually watch 3D TV now?

July 03, 2013

Virgin customers lose all HD channels for around an hour

It wasn't just you then...there were reported problems with all of VM's HD channels country wide between 2pm and 3pm today (Wednesday). Normal service has now resumed.