March 27, 2013

Another HD channel added in April

Discovery is launching TLC ("The Learning Channel") in the UK on April 30th. Positioned as an entertainment channel where the ‘relatable meets the remarkable’, Discovery is describing the tone of the channel as 'playful, humorous and passionate'. Whatever that means...
It will be available on Virgin Media both in standard and high definition. No announcement yet on the UK programming yet but here is the US site to give some idea of what is coming our way:

March 19, 2013

BBC2 HD replaces BBC HD next Tuesday

From the BBC Blogs, more details about the forthcoming BBC2 HD that replaces BBC HD next week:
I’m really pleased that the BBC will be embarking on the next stage of our HD journey at 6am on Tuesday 26 March 2013 with the launch of BBC Two HD. BBC Two HD will be a simulcast of the standard definition version of BBC Two that is broadcast in England, and its launch means that you’ll be able to watch the BBC’s two most popular TV channels in glorious HD. I’ve set out below some guidance on how to access the new HD channel, and also some advice about any series recordings you may have set up on BBC HD, and I hope you will find these helpful.
Of course, it’s not a perfect world, and there are a couple of issues that may be on your mind, so I thought you’d appreciate it if first I tackled them head on.
Viewers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (and indeed some English viewers) may be disappointed that we are, regrettably, unable to offer the full BBC Two schedule for those nations in HD. This is essentially to do with our need to prioritise our investment in HD as we take each step forward, because we can’t afford to do everything we might like to do. Just to be clear, it’s worth my saying that the broadcast in standard definition of BBC Two Scotland, BBC Two Wales and BBC Two Northern Ireland will be unaffected by this launch.
I also understand that some of you will be disappointed to see the end of BBC HD. To make the launch of BBC Two HD affordable, the proposal put forward by BBC management and agreed by the BBC Trust under Delivering Quality First was to use BBC HD’s broadcasting capacity to launch BBC Two HD.
BBC HD will close down in the very early hours of 26 March 2013 but will always have a special place in the BBC’s history as the first HD TV channel we launched. It began as a trial service in 2006 and since then has played an important role offering the best of the BBC in HD. It’s also been the means for us to broadcast 3D programmes as part of the BBC’s 3D trial over the past couple of years.
I can assure you that we have some brilliant minds working on the tricky question of how to find an affordable way to broadcast HD programmes that are scheduled on BBC ThreeBBC Four,CBeebies and CBBC. I will update you as and when we have more news. Some of you may have seen the press release earlier this year that announced the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special in 3D this autumn. As the press release explained, our intention is to broadcast it using the BBC’s HD capacity, and I will give you more details on our plan later this year.
How will my BBC HD series recordings be affected? I want to say a few words about what happens to any series recordings you may have set up on the BBC HD channel. I’ll take this in two parts – series recordings of programmes that are commissioned for BBC Two, and series recordings of programmes that are commissioned for other channels (ie, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC).
BBC Two series BBC HD currently broadcasts a number of BBC Two shows and so you might already have series recordings for some BBC Two programmes in HD set-up via the BBC HD channel.  For most people these will continue to work after BBC Two HD launches.  If you have series links for programmes on BBC Two SD you might like to replace them with bookings for the show on BBC Two HD (although they will take up more recording space).
However, because we have to make a small change, Virgin Media viewers should be aware of the following:
  • If you have a Virgin Media TiVo box then you don't need to worry about the change, your series should continue to be recorded as normal.
  • If on the other hand you have a V+HD box then you’ll need to set up recordings for the following series again after 26 March (other series will not be affected): Eggheads, Newsnight, Great British Menu, Mastermind and The Culture Show.
Other series Most BBC Three and all BBC Four series that are shown on BBC HD will come to an end before BBC HD closes, so you’re unlikely to be in the situation of missing the end of the series if you have chosen to record it in HD, but please do check to be on the safe side. The two exceptions are In the Flesh andBluestone 42, for which you will need to set up recordings on BBC Three in order to catch the end of the series. I’m afraid that, until we are able to broadcast BBC Three and BBC Four and the children’s channels in HD, you’ll need to record programmes in standard definition after 26 March.
If you are worried about your series recordings, the safest thing to do after 26 March is to check that your series recordings are still picking up new episodes of your favourite shows.
I’ve spent a fair bit of time above talking about how to deal with issues you may encounter, or explaining why we aren’t able to offer more programmes in HD at this point. I hope you find this blog helpful as a result.
But I also don’t want to detract from what I see as a positive step forward in the BBC’s HD journey. We are proud to be reaching this milestone of bringing our second most popular channel into a fuller HD existence. So while we wish a fond farewell to BBC HD and thank it for a job well done, I hope you will enjoy saying hello to BBC Two HD.
Alix Pryde is Director, BBC Distribution

March 15, 2013

Film4 HD will appear on Sky... September! Amazing it has taken so long, especially as it was announced in September 2012.
I think Film4 HD and TCM HD both look better than the Sky HD movie channels - does anyone else agree? Sky Premier is okay but the others aren't crystal sharp, and some seem to have lip sync issues - I was watching Chicago and True Grit recently and both were annoyingly out of sync.
(btw, Cable Forum has been offline for a few hours Friday lunchtime.)

March 14, 2013

ITV HD press release

Virgin Media introduces HDelightful ITV channels

· ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD available to Virgin TV customers· ITV collection to join Virgin TV Anywhere
Virgin Media and ITV today announced that ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD are joining ITV1 HD in Virgin Media’s extensive line up of High Definition (HD) channels. Their arrival this week boosts the total number of HD channels available on Virgin TV to 43.
Virgin Media customers with an XL TV subscription can watch the additional ITV HD channels for no extra cost, showcasing some of the UK’s best programming with shows such as Celebrity JuiceThe Only way is Essex and Whitechapel as well as the UEFA Europa League and the Tour de France, which will never have looked so good, dazzling viewers with the incredibly clear, crisp pictures and vivid colours that HD makes possible.
Virgin Media has also revealed that ITV’s Standard Definition (SD) channels are on their way to Virgin TV Anywhere, the cloud-based entertainment service which is exclusive for Virgin TV customers. Virgin Media’s subscribers will be able to stream1ITV1, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 on computers, tablets or smartphones along with the considerable range of entertainment, sport, news, factual, music, movies and even premium sport and movies channels already available. 
Katharine Burns, executive director of multiscreen content acquisition at Virgin Media said: “We’re pleased to be introducing such a fantastic selection of HD content to our customers as well as bringing some of the UK’s most watched channels to different screens via Virgin TV Anywhere. ITV makes some of the country’s most loved programmes and with such an abundance of contemporary and classic drama, reality TV favourites and sporting highlights, these latest channels are an important addition to our growing line-up.” 
Martin Goswami, director of pay and distribution at ITV said: “We’re committed to bringing the very best content and quality viewing experiences to viewers across multiple platforms so we’re delighted that Virgin Media customers can now watch all of our channels in stunning HD quality as well as continue to catch up with shows they may have missed and access shows while they’re on the go. This deal is part of our strategy to allow even more people to enjoy our programming in a time when the way our audiences watch TV continues to transform.”

ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD will be available on Virgin TV channels 176, 177 and 178 respectively from Thursday 14th March. ITV’s channels will join Virgin TV Anywhere later this year.

ITV2, 3 and 4 all launch in high definition

A week late but better late than never - all three promised additional ITV HD channels are now live on Virgin Media.

March 07, 2013

VM confirms ITV HD launches delayed

From Kieren Aris at Virgin Media
Hi all,

We apologise for getting you all excited, but we're experiencing a few delays with the launch of these channels and will let you know as soon as we're ready to go.

Thanks for your patience!

ITV HD channels confirmed by Virgin Media

Virgin Media has confirmed the launch of ITV2, 3 and 4 HD channels today (but they've yet to appear). MediaBoy is reporting the launch is "delayed".
ITV 2 HD, ITV 3 HD & ITV 4 HD is coming to our platform on Thursday 7th March.  The channels will be available in the XL HD pack on channels 176, 177 and 178.

March 06, 2013

Neil Berkett's farewell

From Broadcast TV News:
CABLE CONGRESS 2013 – LONDON. As Neil Berkett prepares to depart the stage, the man who has arguably been the most successful CEO in UK cable said he was immensely proud of what has been built at Virgin Media.
“We didn’t know the value would be created with Liberty Global. It was Absolutely the right decision for our shareholders, our employees, and most importantly our customers. Superfast communications are as important to national success as canals and railways were in the past. the cable sector has not only avoided the recession but has grown. Our services are the new arteries of the economy. Without our commitment the digital infrastructure would not be as developed as it is. Cable is a slow starter in many countries. In the UK we were comprehensively left behind by satellite.”
Personally I think Berkett has done a fine job. If you look at where he started from with the newly merged NTL and Telewest, a single HD channel broadcasting just in the evenings, junk bond value, annual losses and high churn, and set-top boxes out performed by Freeview cheapies, we should all be grateful. Of course we're not, we never are, but I think he's done a fine job. Thank you Mr Berkett.
(Now can we please have Sky Atlantic as a parting gift?)

Netflix? LoveFilm? Coming soon?

According to Bloomberg:
Virgin Media plans to make Web services like Netflix a more integral part of its offering rather than fighting them. “Our approach is to get every content asset you possibly can on the platform,” CEO Neil Berkett said at the Cable Congress in London. “We’ve got a far greater chance as an industry by embracing over-the-top services."
Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said yesterday at the conference that he expected Virgin Media to continue to use the TiVo set-top box in the coming years, though was unsure what would happen beyond that. Liberty Global has been introducing the competing Horizon box in Europe, starting in the Netherlands.

March 05, 2013

ITV 2, 3 and 4 HD all launch on Thursday

ITV2 HD to launch on Virgin Channel 176, ITV3 HD on Channel 177 and ITV4 HD to launch on Virgin Channel 178, all on the XL Package. (source: MediaBoy's blog)

March 01, 2013

Sky to overtake Virgin Media as the UK's second largest broadband provider

British Sky Broadcasting is buying the UK broadband and fixed line businesses of Spain's Telefonica.
It will give Sky half a million customers who use the O2 and BE brands for their home phone or broadband.
Sky has taken on 4.2 million broadband customers since launching the service in 2006. The deal will allow Sky to leapfrog Virgin Media and close the gap on the number one provider: BT.