January 30, 2014

Spotify on TiVo updated

Spotify on Tivo has at last had an update with a search function added. About time too.

HBO sign a new Sky Atlantic exclusive deal

Still no definite news about it coming to Virgin Media customers any time soon, but Sky Atlantic has extended its deal with HBO:
Sky and HBO are to co-develop and produce new, original drama as part of an expanded partnership between the two companies. The collaboration includes an extended content output deal to ensure that Sky Atlantic remains the exclusive home of first-run HBO programmes in Britain and Ireland through 2020. [more]
One of the ironies for me of Sky Atlantic is that it missed out on many of the most popular US imports - True Blood (HBO but carriage with Fox), Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Homeland, House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy. Also, many of its original shows are now drawing to a close (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire both ending with the next season) whilst the new shows have proven to have little appeal (with the notable exception of Game of Thrones). I still wonder how it makes money for Sky.
I once considered jumping to Sky for it, now I would rather have Netflix. Truth is, I have access to Atlantic via my NowTV box but I rarely look at it.

What's new on Netflix?

I've just come across this site http://netflix.maft.co/ that appears to be the clearest site yet showing what's new and available on Netflix. Some of the others are a little messy or cluttered with ads, but this is nice and clear and easy to navigate. The same chap (or chapess) has also put together a Facebook page along similar lines https://www.facebook.com/NewOnNetflixUK.
I had considered putting together a new "Netflix only" version of this blog, but it's not worth it with something this good already around.

January 29, 2014

ITV Encore to be a Sky/Now TV exclusive

When I was kid we never watched ITV in our house. This wasn't some BBC-elitist snobbery going on, there was just nothing on ITV that appealed at all. Even the ITV football highlights in those days were on the day after Match of the Day. They couldn't do comedy, drama was very soapy and the bloody ads always got in the way.
Times change, but my attitude to ITV hasn't really. Sure, I've tried Downton Abbey but it wasn't my thing, I dabbled with Whitechapel but the BBC's Ripper Street wiped the floor with it, and I really felt like I could do without the agonies of a small community coming to grip with a child's murder in Broadchurch. The only time I ever visit 113 is for the Champions League coverage - and that's moving to BT Sport from next season.
So for me, the news that ITV Encore is to be a Sky exclusive isn't a particularly big deal. I don't think I've ever watched the HD versions of ITV2 and ITV3 and the few times I've hunted down a film on ITV4 HD it's turned up in upscaled SD only. ITV HD itself used to be useful if I missed the BBC news in HD at 6pm, but now I've got BBC News HD I don't bother with the ITV News at all.
Even the name is something of an oddity - whilst "Encore" may has association with quality it actually means "repeat" or "more". More ITV repeats? No thanks.
But ITV is very popular (just not with me) and no doubt there will be many Virgin Media customers who will be disappointed that they won't see the channel any time soon on their TiVo's. This being a Sky exclusive is a far bigger deal than the absence of Sky Atlantic on VM for the greater British public, so here's what the ITV Encore press release says about the channel not coming soon to our TV's:
TV plc today announced that it would be launching ITV Encore this year, a new pay channel dedicated to the very best of the broadcaster's great British drama.
ITV Encore, which will be available on Sky's platforms, will be ITV's first brand new channel launch in eight years and forms part of a wider four year partnership with Sky - ITV's biggest ever with a platform operator.
 The new channel will be home to some of ITV's most successful drama series of recent years.  From 2015, it will also screen original commissions with the ITV hallmark of high quality production values, big name lead actors and compelling narratives penned by some of the UK's best writers.
 In addition, as part of the wider deal with Sky, ITV content will be made available through Sky's range of connected platforms including Sky+HD, Sky Go, NOW TV and Sky Store.
 Adam Crozier, ITV Chief Executive, said:
"A key part of our strategy is to become the most watched, most loved and most talked about family of free and pay channels for every household and every advertiser in the UK.
 "ITV's brilliant dramas contributed to a fantastic on-screen performance last year - we had three out of the top five dramas in 2013, which helped us increase our share of viewing on the main channel for the first time in a decade.
 "The time is absolutely right to build on our successful partnership with Sky with the launch of ITV Encore, which will be an important part of ITV's family of channels, and will complement ITV3, home to our long-running, classic drama series.  ITV Encore is right in line with our strategy of growing non advertising revenues while at the same time creating even greater opportunities to showcase new drama."
 Jeremy Darroch, Sky Chief Executive, said:
 "Our customers love great drama and so we are delighted to bring them exclusive access to a new channel from one of the best loved brands in TV. The wider availability of ITV programmes on our fast-growing connected TV services, including Sky Go, Sky Store and NOW TV, will make Sky stand out as a great place to enjoy ITV, on multiple devices, both at home and on the go. This is good news for Sky customers and a positive way for us to work with ITV in a broad, mutually beneficial partnership."
 In addition to being available on Sky's satellite platform, ITV Encore will also be available on NOW TV, Sky's internet TV service. The wider deal with Sky includes:
·    launch of ITV catch up and archive VOD and simulcast of ITV channels on Sky Go, together with launch of ITV Player on the NOW TV box
·    renewal of the carriage deal for ITV 2, 3 and 4 HD and ITV catch up and archive VOD on the Sky+ HD platform, including an extended range of high quality TV box sets
·    availability of ITV content on a rental basis in Sky Store

January 26, 2014

Ten great TV shows to watch on Netflix on your TiVo

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. House of Cards
  3. Orange is the New Black
  4. Firefly
  5. Sons of Anarchy
  6. Justified
  7. Battlestar Galactica
  8. The IT Crowd
  9. Green Wing
  10. The Killing

January 24, 2014

Walking Dead Season 4

Good news for those gripped by The Walking Dead, the most successful cable show ever in US TV history. The second half of season four will be shown within 24 hours of its US broadcast as Fox move it to Monday nights from February 10th. Set the series link now.
But don't bother setting one for the series repeats on Five, as Five has decided that it doesn't have room in its extensive, quality nightly schedules for the show and won't be showing season four or any subsequent series.
Five used to pick up some quality US imports but seems to have abandoned that strategy now - no more Justified, now no more Walking Dead. This from a broadcaster that had the second series Breaking Bad but ditched that, too.
And the TV companies wonder why illegal downloads and the likes of Netflix and LoveFilm are proving so popular...

January 16, 2014

Netflix UHD 4K interview: When, where and how to get 4K content

Here's something for those looking to an Ultra HD future on Netflix: an interview on Pocket-lint.com with Joris Evers, director of global communications for Netflix. Interesting stuff.
At this year's CES consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas we were treated to all kinds of televisual treats. And as much as we've been sucked in by the wonders of the latest 4K TVs from all the big manufacturers, it's the content that we're most excited about.
Breaking Bad in 4K? Yes please, just to see Jesse's vacant stare in four times the resolution. But, hold up, with the announcement of 4K Blu-ray discs only just upon us, and with no release date set, how can any early adopters get the very best out of their Ultra HD tellies? Netflix, that's how.
We sat down with Joris Evers, director of global communications for Netflix, during CES 2014 to get the inside line on what to expect. When it is due, how you can get it, whether it will cost more for the resolution premium and so forth. [more]

January 15, 2014

Justified season 4 lands on Netflix

Looking for something to watch on Netflix now that you've watched five seasons of Breaking Bad? You could do worse than treat yourself to the first four seasons of the outstanding Justified, as the fourth season has just landed on Netflix in the UK in glorious Super HD (as are the first three). Marvelous.
Hopefully Netflix will also quickly secure season five as some muppet at C5 has decided not to pick it up for UK broadcast. C5 threw it away on the low bit-rate 5USA anyway - thank Boyd that Netflix has it in glorious sparkly vision.
It's also been announced today that season six (2015) will be the last. Can't complain; it has, since about half way through the first season, been one of the finest pieces of TV around that has just improved with every show, but nothing lasts forever. At least it is the show's creators that are calling it a day rather than the money men.

January 09, 2014

More on TiVo's "Network PVR"

As I mention below, Virgin Media are already trialling this new solution by Tivo, but here's something from TechCrunch that explains what it does a little better: http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/07/tivo-network-dvr/

TiVo news from CES 2014

Virgin Media is one of the cable operators overseas that’s kicking the tires on a network DVR that TiVo has under development.
“It’s a fairly small trial at this point in time,” Jeff Klugman, TiVo’s executive vice president of product and revenue, said at CES in reference to the trial with Virgin. He said TiVo plans to roll out the nDVR product commercially later this year.
Klugman said TiVo is providing the front end software and interface for the service and is working with a broad set of vendors to provide the backend storage, processing and encoding components. 
At CES 2014 TiVo is showing off a prototype of its network DVR. Klugman said TiVo is crafting it in a way that will allow partners to set the rules that govern the nDVR, including if it can stream from a shared copy of a programme, or require that the system create unique copies of each programme selected for recording by the customer.
TiVo’s system is also capable of storing a several days-worth of programming, by network or individual show, or, if the rules allow, provide perpetual, infinite storage. It can also disable trick-play functions during commercials or leave them be. 
He also confirmed that TiVo has 4K/Ultra HD support on product roadmap, and that the company expects to support native 4K later this year but, because 4K is in the early stages of deployment, he views 4K support as a “future-proofing” measure. “We’re still trying to judge the timing on it,” he said.

January 06, 2014

MGM HD update

Those hoping to see the MGM HD channel arrive on Virgin Media will now find the movies available on Virgin Media, albeit on the Sky Movie channels. Sky has announced:
On the 16th January 2014 , The MGM HD channel will close and will no longer be available to Sky customers. It will also disappear from the EPG on this date.
We’re committed to providing the best movie offering in the market and have signed an exclusive library deal with MGM to include their movies as part of the Sky Movies subscription, available on our channels and On Demand. As a result of this, the MGM HD channel is closing.