January 30, 2015

Virgin Media attempts to pause Premier League rights process

From MediaGuardian:
Virgin Media has asked the regulator Ofcom to take the unprecedented step of pausing the auction of Premier League television rights. Virgin has filed an ”application for interim measures” with Ofcom to use its powers to temporarily halt the decision process for which broadcasters get the rights to air live top-flight UK football matches.
Last autumn Virgin asked Ofcom to look into the the increasig cost of Premier League football rights, warning of “significant consumer harm” if the current process continued unchecked. It claimed fans were being asked to pay over the odds to watch live football. Ofcom’s decision is due in March but Virgin has now filed an application for the auction to be halted . Virgin said: “If the auction continues unchecked, Ofcom’s ability to act will be prejudiced and it will likely be 2019 until the next opportunity to reign-in the rampant inflation in prices for viewers.”

January 26, 2015

Netflix UK customers have a miserable January again

If you're a subscriber to Netflix, you've lost more than you've gained in January 2015. According to the excellent website New to Netflix there were 96 titles added to Netflix this month but a massive 284 removed. That sounds bad, but actually January 2014 was even worse, with 164 additions and a stunning 517 removals.
Over the rest of the year additions outpace removals most months, but the overall catalogue feels like on in decline.
The chart here is from Maft's nifty stats page where you can find other evidence that the service appears to be investing less in its catalogue now that it has a decent user base in the UK. And if you really want an eye opener, click on Maft's US Netflix stats - just under 7,500 titles available every month, albeit with some rotation compared with the UK's 2,700. As anyone with a VPN account will tell you, in the US (where the service is cheaper per month) it's a whole new ball game with loads of new films and series that we don't get a sniff of here.
I wonder where the service in the UK is heading now that Netflix has to compete with Amazon Instant Video and Now TV for film and series rights. Now TV is still overpriced and quality can be poor with live streaming, but Amazon's catalogue is increasingly impressive, and good value if you're a regular shopper on Amazon. So where's the Amazon app for TiVo? It was much talked about but never materialised. I can access it via my Sony TV but playback quality is patchy - even the SD buffers and stutters - but Sony assure me that will be fixed.

January 13, 2015

And after 3D, expect 4k to be the next big non-event

Interesting CES covering from The Register this year, who as always show a cynical disregard for technologies that nobody has actually asked for: It's 4K-ing big right now, but it's NOT going to save TV.
Virgin Media still only broadcasts all its HD in 720p and, as far as I'm aware, has no plans to increase this to 1080p. Sure, your TV may present it as 1080i, but the next step for VM and Sky would be 1080p, and even the most-lauded Netflix 4K content is actually currently upscaled. My Sony TV's Freeview channels occasionally are received in 1080p (notably some BBC content).
I'd expect Sky to launch and shout a 4K offering at some point, they've already done some trials, but I can't honestly see an appetite from the consumer yet except those hapless few who have to have the latest-if-not-greatest to impress the neighbours.

January 01, 2015

Happy new year from Virgin Media with two new HD channels

Finally, we have Sky Sports News in HD on 511 (identified as SkySpNHQHD in the EPG!) and Sky News in HD on 603. Enjoy!