April 25, 2016

New TiVo boxes delayed until 2017

According to an article in Sunday’s Telegraph, we’re not going to see the new TiVo hardware until next year:
At the turn of the year Virgin Media will launch a new set-top box to rival Sky Q, with ultra-high-definition pictures and a similar ability to sling programmes to tablets and smartphones around the home. Beyond that, there will be a major overhaul of the ageing plumbing that powers Virgin Media’s broadcasting, to allow it to shift to Liberty Global’s next generation distribution system, Horizon, which is already in use elsewhere in Europe.
That’s disappointing to say the least as the initial rumours were of a new TiVo for this summer’s Olympics.
Whilst I appreciate that there may be considerable challenges in rolling out new equipment to the cable network Sky’s Q technology has hardly been a trade secret, and Virgin/Liberty aren’t really in a position to give Sky a year’s head start on modern technology and retain customers.
The Telegraph article also talks about ‘making the pipes sing with content’, which is a poetic turn of phrase but pretty meaningless when a subscription to NowTV Entertainment delivers more compelling content (Sky Atlantic, ITV Encore, etc) and better curated box sets for £6.99 a month on a cracking little badged Roku box that costs £14.99, less than Virgin’s hard sold monthly fixed phone line cost.
With Q stealing away VM’s last remaining high end customers and NowTV and BT luring the core middle of the TV market the Virgin television business is relying on the apathy of customers reluctant to change suppliers rather than any compelling USP to keep us on board.
Virgin’s answer, according to Chief Digital Entertainment Officer David Bouchier, is to go back to the content market again. But in returning to that particular table Virgin will find only slim pickings indeed as Sky has tied up the US networks HBO and ShowCase whilst BT has AMC. Throw in the competition for programming from a rejuvenated Five (now owned by Discovery) and the occasional big US swoop by Channel 4 and there’s precious little left worth talking about.
Virgin does have Netflix of course, but today’s smart TVs deliver over the top services much slicker than the TiVo, and often have the Amazon Prime network available too. There’s no mention of Amazon coming to the TiVo these days, which means the odd underwhelming pick up like Kingdom and Ash vs Evil Dead are hardly going to sustain existing customers or attract new ones.
It’s a pretty sorry state of affairs. Although the Telegraph can run some puff about how efficient Liberty Global is with it’s economies behind the scenes it can’t really hide the reality of a TV offering that has lacked the necessary vision, attention and investment for far too long, a typical example of a media company that’s been run by accountants who have turned a blind eye to the opportunities of today’s technology and compelling content.
Jam tomorrow maybe whilst raising prices today? Who is gullible enough to fall for that?


Rob Thompson said...

I think I'll be making the jump to SkyQ when my contract comes up, I'll keep my 200mb broadband but with new customer deals etc I think I can work it so it's cheaper to split my providers.

Simon Perry said...

I heard there will be a complete overhaul of the vm network. new box new interface and platform maybe own content as well come on vm you need to hurry and make it worth while

Unknown said...

Your VM 200mb does not work with SKY Q, so you will be forced to take the landline or fibre option both inferior, check samknows.com for more info on your BBI options

tassiekev said...

Left VM a while back and now have BT BB + Sky TV and I've been very satisfied. VM keep offering me half-price for 12 months on an 18 month deal but even that wouldn't get me back.
As well as a network overhaul, I think VM should scrap the Tivo software and start again. Compared with the Sky interface its like putting a Morris Minor up against a Bentley.
Catch-up & On Demand need a massive overhaul on VM. I have a small 5.1 sound system and most of the programs I watch on Sky are available in 5.1, both live and OD. When I was with VM the same programs would be 5.1 live but stereo in OD - if you could find them! Quite often there were box sets with a series missing. I could go on but I get the idea that VM feel that 'near enough is good enough' for their subscribers.
I'm glad I left.

Chris Till said...

To say that Sky Q will cause all high end customers to defect from VM is wildly exaggerating. People who want the best internet and who have waited this long for a new TiVo, will continue to wait the little while longer.

Maybe some people who chop and change providers at the drop of a hat may decide to switch, but the rational people who think it through will probably come to the realisation that Virgin are better value.

You seem to always be very down on VM. If you really want to go to NOW TV as your primary content provider then by all means go for it. Not everyone needs a comprehensive cable or satellite service these days.

I calculated how my an equivalent sky package would cost us, albeit with 40mb broadband (not fibre to the house) and it's still significantly more than the XL pack with sky sports HD with standard phone line and 200mb. And that's before adding Sky Q. And then you probably have to buy the box itself.

Gunslinger said...

The delay till 2017 MAY be to enable content deals to be tied up to enable streaming to other devices and better integration of catch up and PVR. At the moment you can't even view shows saved on most channels across multiple Tivo's on a network for 'licensing reasons'.
On the other hand maybe not. We all remember how much of a work in progress Tivo still was when first launched - perhaps they just want to avoid that..

tassiekev said...

Virgin BB with Sky Q:


I just read all 5 pages of it - worthwhile if you have Virgin BB and are looking at Sky Q.

Nialli said...

@Chris Till 'You seem to always be very down on VM'. Not always, but the Liberty Global era has been underwhelming so far, a shocking series of inflation-busting price increases with so little return for the loyal customers.
Virgin has ignored the TV side of its business and it is now outclassed by a tiny white box I picked up for a tenner and a service that costs me around the same each month as I'd pay for a pint. It's laughable. The news that the Virgin Media TiVo will not be replaced this year is disappointing but typical of a company that has focussed solely on broadband and ignored the TV service and doesn't appear to be in any great hurry to sort it out.

Chris Till said...

@Nialli I totally agree with most of what you said. I wish they spent more time on TiVo, wish it was faster, had streaming to devices and everything else. But I just look at whether there are any better options out there, and for me there still aren't. TiVo currently isn't perfect, but it is very solid, bulletproof and puts up with everything I throw at it so it's not totally without merit. Even if EE TV and the NOW TV box are more interesting from a tech point of view. I would throw in Apple TV as well but I don't see that as a TiVo replacement, and more as a supplementary device.

Treble said...

TiVo the slowest thing I have ever used in my life it's painful but it's cheap so will keep it and use my nvidia shield tv with kodi and ruya for main playback TiVo for recording Corrie for the wife

howardmicks said...

Vm Tv his a joke and now got worse tivo badly needed a overhaul sky q is amazing had a few slight problems due to having vm broadband but gladly they are behind me...
Gave it a good testing yesterday
Had it recording 4 different channels whilst watching a live channel(Sky q Silver)
Mini Watching live stream and a ipad and samsung Tab4 also showing live stream at same time no lagging at all and with Sky Sports 4K and Sky Movies 4K due before next season starts the motto believe in better his certainly right

Jon said...

Sounds like Virgin were caught completely off-guard by Sky Q and pretty much had to start work on the new box when they saw Sky's move in the press! Not quite, I'm sure; Of course they would be "in touch with developments" at TiVo. But it clearly was not a priority.

And don't forget Virgin are notorious for slipping their dates. It sounds like they have picked the furthest out, most flexible date they could without really handing their high-end customers to Sky on a platter! If they are now saying at the "turn of the year", I wouldn't expect anything before next summer at the earliest.

I'm going all out on UHD (mainly for OLED/HDR, not 4K) this summer. I was going to wait at least to trial the new TiVo box. Now I think it's looking like Virgin Broadband and Sky Q Silver TV.

Jon said...


Mind sharing your Virgin Broadband problems when using Sky Q?

Were they all fixable? Do you use the Sky Q box for WiFi or do you have your own router? I don't know what problems I might be in for using my independent WiFi router and switch instead .

howardmicks said...

Not a problem glad 2 share vm broadband requires 2 sky boosters,my sky q silver is wifi they wire one booster to yer superhub2 and the other booster upstairs wifi near my mini box workes flawlessly.amazazing product

Jon said...

Thanks Howard. Does it look like it would be easy to connect the Sky boxes to a different wifi network? I have 2 Asus routers (one acting as router one, as an AP) and have the house covered. I'd rather not use sky boxes to make a wifi network, just hang them on as devices.

howardmicks said...

you should be okay with mine the booster down stairs thats wired acts has a additional router

Irishmanc said...

I think Virgin Media should dump tivo and move to the Horizon box of Liberty Global and do away with standard boxes but instead release apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android boxes to provide services through instead they can save a fortune by not having their own additional nixes to maintain or replace when upgrades needed. By moving to apps Virgin Media would be able to offer a service in non called areas through BT wholesales fibre network much the same as Sky do now via Now tv but with more channels. Customers are becoming more and more fed up with cables all around their houses not just from Virgin Media but Sky as well. As for 4K tv Virgin Media are doing right letting Sky and BT invest in new boxes while the television industry decides exactly what will be classified as 4K and what the uptake is going to be.
Do people remember the waste of money 3D was to Sky who invested heavily in 3D tv and Sports only to find there was not high enough demand to continue with it.
I was recently watching a programme about 4K tv and the future of television and the TV manufacturers and broadcasters are now looking at 8K.One knee resting fact about 4K tv is that sets need to be larger to be able to view it properly and 42" tvs don't look much better than 1080p sets plus you need to sit nearer the tv to see the better picture quality. All the main manufacturers are lowering the prices of 4K Uhd tv sets to sell them off as there are new UHD premium sets being launched which is meant to be the standard. A lot of early adopters could find their tv not jp to standard much like the way HD tvs went when Full HD 1080p became the best for HD programmes and movies compared to 720p, then there's HDR and refresh rates. Virgin Media will be able to launch their new boxes knowing it's the best quality available and avoid replacing millions of boxes just to have to do it again.