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

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...

BT Sports and ESPN channel numbers

BT Sport 1547
BT Sport 2548
BT Sport 1 HD549
BT Sport 2 HD550

BT Sport and ESPN confirmed and free for XL TV customers (press release)

Virgin Media scores the winner with BT Sport
·         Virgin TV, the only place for every major UK sports channel in one subscription
·         BT Sport at no extra cost for millions more sports fans thanks to Virgin Media

Virgin Media today scored the winner as BT Sport arrives on Virgin TV.

The landmark deal means millions of sports fans1 will get BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN at no extra cost and every channel in glorious HD.

Virgin Media already offers all the Sky Sports channels, with Sky Sports 1 and 2 in HD, making Virgin TV the only place sports fans can enjoy every goal, try, penalty and heart-stopping sporting moment with one, great value subscription. 

Dana Strong, Virgin Media’s chief operating officer, said: “Virgin Media homes are kicking-off the new season with the most complete sporting line-up around in one simple subscription, from Barclays Premier League football and Aviva Premiership rugby to F1, live golf and the culmination of a great Ashes series. We’re excited to announce our deal with BT, making these fantastic new channels available at no extra cost to millions of Virgin TV viewers and in HD as standard.”

BT Sport will be available at no extra cost to sports fans in every Virgin XL TV home. Other customers will be able to either upgrade to Virgin XL TV, with over 200 fantastic channels or, for £15 a month, add BT Sport – BT Sport 1, 2 and ESPN and all HD variants – to their existing TV package.

BT Sport will also be made available on Virgin TV Anywhere, the award-winning cloud-based entertainment service for mobiles, tablets and online so Virgin TV fans can follow their team in the pub, at the shops and even at the in-laws. BT Sport on Virgin TV Anywhere is coming soon.

BT Sport joins Virgin Media’s outstanding sporting line-up of Sky Sports 1, 2 (currently Sky Sports Ashes), 3, 4, Sky Sports 1 and 2 in HD, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News. All Virgin Media pay-TV subscribers can enjoy the British Eurosport and Sky Sports News channels as part of their TV package.

BT Sport adds 38 Barclays Premier League matches and Aviva Premiership rugby coverage to Virgin TV alongside:

  • Hundreds of top-flight football matches from Italy, France and Brazil
  • Women's Tennis Association matches from 21 tournaments
  • 2013/14 FA Cup
  • Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League
  • UEFA Europa League
  • German Bundesliga
1 From today, Virgin XL TV subscribers will be able to watch BT Sport at no extra cost. Other Virgin TV customers can upgrade to Virgin XL TV or subscribe for £15 per month. For the full line-up of Virgin TV channels, please visit

August 14, 2013

Was Bomber AF right???

Quick poll for Cable Forum visitors - "was Bomber AF well informed with his predictions of BT Sports, ESPN and Sky Atlantic arriving in August?". Poll results below:

Yes, I think so
  102 (26%)
Not sure, but I hope so
  162 (42%)
  70 (18%)
Don't care
  47 (12%)

Votes 381
Poll closed 
So was he/she right? I think the info was good even if the actual dates proved a little premature. Fingers crossed for Sky Atantic then, even if it's a little later than originally suggested.

BT Sports channels almost appear on Virgin Media TV Anywhere

If you have a look at the Virgin TV Anywhere page and hover over the two "BT Sports" sized holes in the Sports Channels line up, you'll see that they're placeholders for BT Sports 1 and 2...

UPDATE: and then they were gone, within minutes of me posting. The screen shot is not faked...honest!

August 13, 2013

New channel numbers for the UKTV HD stable

Watch 125 has moved to 191
Dave 129 is now 194
Alibi 131 moves, oddly, to 200
The stupendous Eden HD jumps from 209 to 210
And Good Food HD is on 262 (from 261)

Can anyone see any logic in these shifts for the entertainment channels? There's a concentration of HD channels in the high 100s (BBC2, ITV2, 3, 4, Syfy and now the UKTV ones) making the whole thing a real buggers' muddle. and why Alibi is now 200 (start of the Documentary range) is very odd.

August 09, 2013

Sky Bravo rumours

Interesting story on mediaguardian that Sky are considering launching a male-orientated channel, possibly with the name Sky Bravo. No doubt the various ne'er-do-wells and gloom merchants who seem to choke up threads on Cable Forum and Digital Spy are already speculating that Virgin Media won't carry it (I don't read those regularly any more - there's only so much I can take of nstokes, dave42 and co) but this paragraph from the Guardian's story is interesting:
It is understood that the launch of the channel is likely to be put on the back burner, in the short term at least, as it has not managed to gain a distribution deal to air in Virgin Media's 4 million-plus households.
Does Sky consider carriage on Virgin Media as essential? The suggestion would be that it's at least a major consideration for the mighty Sky. So whither Sky Atlantic on VM? I've heard no more...but I'm still hopeful.

August 03, 2013

So what happened on August 1st?

In recent weeks the forums on Cable Forum and Digital Spy have been overflowing with speculation after a series of posts by BomberAV. But then August 1st came and went and there were no new shiny BT Sports channels nor Sky Atlantic. What's more, ESPN channels have disappeared too, as these are now part of BT Sports.
So what happened?
BomberAV said about Sky Atlantic:
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.
So don't give up hope on that arriving. Fact: Sky are no longer marketing Sky Atlantic as "Exclusive to Sky customers", so I'm still hopeful that we'll see it before long.
With BT Sports the talks hit an impasse. These carriage deals often take longer than either side anticipates and I've heard from people I know at both VM and BT that the talks have been ongoing and haven't broken down, they're just haggling over the price. Everyone thought it would be done by now - but it isn't.
Presumably VM want to be able to offer it to customers at the same price as ESPN - I got it free as a VIP customer - whereas BT would prefer it treated as a premium channel (as it is to Sky customers). One side will buckle. Something has to give. But in the interim, the customers don't know what to expect and if you check out Virgin Media tweets over on the Twitter feed you'll see a lot of angry customers are complaining. And, of course, both BT and Sky are looking to capitalise on VM's lack of a deal.
I personally hope and expect it to be resolved by the start of the Premiership season. But I don't know. That's speculation based on what I've heard.
It's a shame the forums have turned quite childish and nasty about this matter: Sky trolls (don't they have decent forums of their own?) are everywhere and there have been all kinds of attacks on Bomber and even Media Boy, which to my mind are completely out of order. I don't think anyone has gone out to deliberately deceive.
But until it's confirmed by VM officially, everything is, to some degree, speculative, no matter how reliable a source. Commercial deals don't always get done on time. Negotiations sometimes stumble at the last hurdle.
Keep the faith.

August 02, 2013

Virgin Results, Q2 2013 and full year

Not published separately now, but swept up on the bigger Liberty Global numbers report. Here's what I was able to extract from a very-American summary on the LG results. I think I understood around half of this...
Virgin Media, the recently acquired UK cableco, was the principal driver of cash growth, contributing $401 million for the period from 8-30 June 2013 alone. For the 12 month period to 30 June 2012, Virgin added 169,000 RGUs to lead to a total of 12.2 million and added 67,000 customers to bring the total customer base to 4.9 million. For the three and six months ended 30 June 2013, Virgin reported revenue of £1.027 billion and £2.069 billion, respectively, compared with the same figure and £2.033 billion, respectively, for the corresponding periods a year earlier. 
At the heart of the solid improvements was a healthy TV business for which the TiVo business line, backed by some aggressive marketing, grew 75% year-on-year to 1.7 million or 44% of the whole TV base. At the end of 30 June 2013 pay-TV customers represented 88% of the TV base, up 5,000 in Q2, and triple-play penetration neared 66%, with RGUs per customer at 2.51x. 
Commenting on the quarterly results, Liberty Global’s president and CEO, Mike Fries, said: “The highlight of our second quarter was the successful acquisition of Virgin Media. This transaction marks an important milestone in our efforts to consolidate what remains a very fragmented European cable market. Virgin Media significantly enhances both the scale of our business and our levered equity growth strategy. We are making significant progress integrating Virgin Media into our European operations. The core senior management team has been assembled, led by pay-TV veteran Tom Mockridge, who assumed the CEO role upon closing. Following a detailed review of our synergy targets and, while it’s still early days, we are pleased to report that synergies are expected to be significantly higher than our original estimates.” 

August 01, 2013

BT Sports update - August 1st

Earlier this week, it was reported that the companies were in negotiations over a carriage deal, enabling Virgin Media customers to access BT Sport via their TiVo box.

However, with the subscription sport service set to launch today BT has moved to clarify the situation.

"Following the large number of enquiries from Virgin Media customers and press speculation, we can confirm that we have not agreed a wholesale deal for BT Sport with Virgin Media," the service provider said.

BT said it is open to an agreement "at the right price", noting that talks continue over a potential deal.