Our correspondent Jay has followed up his investigation into the drop of quality in picture quality and has found some interesting background information:
I just found out that Filmflex (Sony + Disney owned) were the provider, but were taken over by a company called Vubiquity last year.
Reading the Vubiquity site, they claim to encode films more efficiently and therefore reduce bandwidth requirements.
Jay believes that this will lower the quality of any content. (Personally, I think this is the kind of optimisation work that takes a while to fine tune, but agree with him that if VM have started using this and there is an unacceptable drop in quality then Virgin should address this.) Here's what Jay concludes:
This is most likely the reason for the recent substantial drop in quality from the video on demand content, they must be using a lower bitrate to encode the premium movie content. I would say that for about five weeks now the picture quality for their SD movies have been so bad they are now considered unviewable. Even the quality of the HD movies has dropped, although they are still of viewable quality but not what some may consider true HD. Virgin Media are currently investigating this matters but let's see how long Vubiquity keep pushing this high cost and low quality junk!I myself don't use Virgin Movies much these days and have alternatives providers (Amazon, Sony, Now TV) if I want on demand movies. I'd be interested to hear from any Virgin Media staff regarding what's actually happening with Virgin Movies and why this is seemingly going awry.