August 23, 2016

HD Sky On Demand movies appear to be on the wane

Since the update to the TiVos the entire HD category has disappeared from the Sky Cinema On Demand section. Although there are still a handful of HD movies if you dig around in the various genre categories, the vast majority only appear to be available in standard definition.
Can anyone from Virgin Media explain this? Is it temporary or another example of Liberty Global’s “charging more but giving customers less” strategy?

August 21, 2016

Price hike dissatisfaction

If people act this time rather than moan, it looks like many of us have had enough of the constant price hikes from Virgin. I wonder if anyone from Virgin Media is monitoring the online reaction to the latest price rises? Alarm bells ringing yet or will they wait until a couple of quarters’ results come in, showing a higher level of Sky, BT or cord cutting migrations and then start to wonder how they got it so wrong?
Charging existing customers for an expansion of their network that only benefits new customers and not the loyal customers who are now leaving in droves makes no business sense whatsoever.
For the second time this year I’m running a poll - was the third price hike this year enough to make you jump ship to other providers? Vote now, top right.

August 20, 2016

See Premiership goals early on the Sky Sports App

If you subscribe to Sky Sports on Virgin Media and have the App installed on your phone or tablet,you can watch all of Saturday’s Premiership goals before they’re broadcast in the evening. It’s advertised as exclusive for Sky TV customers before 10pm but my VM login worked fine today.
Just so’s you knows.

August 19, 2016

Yet another price rise - where's Ofcom??

Virgin Media has announced yet another above-inflation price hike coming in November. Unbelievable. As you’d expect, the supposed service watchdog, OFCOM, is nowhere to be seen as we get ripped another one by Liberty Global’s atrocious ‘giving customers less for more’ strategy.
Prices will increase £3.49 a month for the majority of customers.The company said it was writing to customers about the changes, which will take effect from November 2016. Line rental will increase by £1.01 a month, which will be included in the increases for television and broadband bundles that include a landline.
“We do everything we can to keep prices competitive while striking a balance with investing in more of what our customers want,” lied a Virgin spokesman. Really? Well I for one, with my decrepit TiVo boxes, intermittent broadband outages, a TV lineup that’s outpaced by a ten quid Now TV box and the dodgy Superhub 2 wifi feels very much underserved and ripped off these days. Care to respond Virgin Media?
Incredibly, this is the third price rise many of us have had this year. On 1 February they increased prices by an average of 5.4%, and on 1 June we were told to swallow another increase for the Sky content.
Apparently customers will be given 30 days after receiving notification to move to another provider without penalty if they do not want to pay the new rates. Will we be ‘permitted’ to downgrade our service without penalty if we stick with Virgin Media?

August 15, 2016

Virgin Media Q2 results

Whoops. Missed these when they were published earlier in the month. Here is Virgin Media’s latest results press release:
Operating and financial highlights
  • Superior bundles, new build and continued low churn helped deliver organic customer additions of 24,000 in Q2, compared to a 12,000 loss in the prior-year period
    • Record Q2 organic customer additions of 31,000 in the U.K versus 8,000 loss in Q2 2015; approximately half of Q2 customer growth in the U.K. from new build
    • Combined U.K. and Ireland churn of 13.9% in Q2, with record low of 13.8% in the U.K.
  • Q2 organic RGU additions increased significantly to 50,000, compared to a gain of 1,000 in Q2 2015
    • Improved RGU additions year-over-year across our product portfolio, driven by 39,000 broadband internet and 27,000 fixed-line telephony additions
    • U.K. RGU additions of 66,000 represent our best U.K. Q2 growth since 2008
  • Q2 mobile net additions improved to 25,000, up from 7,000 in Q2 last year, while growth in postpaid mobile additions improved to 41,000, compared to 36,000 last year
  • Project Lightning on track to build more than 500,000 new U.K. premises in 2016; 85,000 premises added in Q2
    • Customer penetration, ARPU and build costs remain in line with business plan
  • Targeted investments to enhance our customer offer and drive sales in the U.K. and Ireland
    • Signed three-year sponsorship deal with Premier League football club, Southampton FC
    • Commenced roll-out of new TV interface & added more on-demand programming in the U.K.
    • In July, launched 4G and Freestyle mobile in Ireland with a selected range of handsets
  • Announced proposed acquisition of UTV Ireland and programming agreement in Ireland with ITV plc
  • Rebased revenue growth of 3% in Q2 (£1,197 million) and H1 (£2,375 million)
    • Increased sales and marketing delivering H1 volumes to drive H2 revenue and OCF growth
  • Operating income decreased by 24% (£79 million) in Q2 and by 16% (£168 million) in H1
    • Lower operating income primarily due to increases in related-party fees and allocations and higher depreciation and amortisation
  • Rebased Segment OCF growth of 1% (£533 million) in Q2 and 2% (£1,054 million) in H1
    • Growth negatively impacted by favourable nonrecurring items in the prior year including a £12 million reduction in local authority charges in H1 2015 (£7 million in Q2 2015)
  • Property and equipment additions were 23.5% of revenue in Q2 and 23% of revenue in H1 
  • Long-term debt hedged against currency fluctuations

Commenting on these Q2 2016 preliminary results Virgin Media Chief Executive, Tom Mockridge, said: “More homes and businesses than ever before are voting with their feet and moving to the better quality ultrafast broadband offered by Virgin Media.
“Customers are fed up with the slower broadband offered by providers operating over the ageing national telephone network.
“The proof is in the pudding. In areas with Virgin Media, more customers moved to us during the quarter than BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone combined.”

TiVo update details from Virgin Media

The update, which will see all Virgin Media TiVo boxes updated automatically over the next few weeks, will give the existing box some fresh new features to help search, find and save content on the service.
Virgin Media TV customers will be able to access the programmes they love more easily, with fewer clicks to content and more images. Through a new feature called Series Link+ customers will also be able to pull together more of the TV they love into one place  - from live TV channels, on demand and online services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
David Bouchier, Chief Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, said:  “This update gives our box an even more intuitive intelligence while, crucially, retaining many of the familiar features  we know our customers love.  Series Link+ takes the convenience of finding and saving series to the next level by breaking down the divisions between traditional TV and on demand programming. 
“Series Link + will be available to all of our TiVo households, simplifying TV and bringing people closer to the TV they love.  This is yet another example of the work we’re doing upgrading Virgin TV, so keep your eyes peeled for more later this year.”
The main features included in this update are:
  • Smart search – found in on demand and catch up menus right at the top, it requires only the first letter of the programme title and the box does the rest to find the shows you love.
  • Series Link+ - this is all about bringing programmes together, no matter where they sit. By setting a Series Link+ for a particular programme Virgin Media’s TiVo box will not only record the entire series but will also find all of the related episodes available on demand and on platforms such as Netflix. All of these episodes will be put into one handy folder (My Shows) ready to watch whenever.
  • Fewer lists, less text, more images – On demand programmes will now appear as image-based tiles and subtle changes such as changing channel names to channel logos help to improve the functionality and access to the best programmes.
  • Continue watching – for years Virgin Media customers have been able to continue where they left off on their recordings; this feature will now apply to all on demand TV too.
  • Bookmarking – sifting through hours and hours of different boxsets and movies can be a tough task, but saving programmes and movies has now got much easier. Virgin Media customers can easily bookmark any programme whether it’s on normal TV, on demand or on Netflix. These programmes will all be put in a handy folder and in My Shows so that viewers can more easily get to the TV they love.
This update comes as Virgin Media is making significant changes to its TV service this year with an improved user interface, exclusive programming and a new set top box – the V6.

August 14, 2016

Will you be investing in the new Virgin 4k box?

Virgin Media is about to announce its new 4k service to compete with Sky Q and BT. I’ve put a small poll top right to gauge what the appetite for the new TiVo-powered box is. Are you an early adopter or are you more cautious with your cash?
Personally, I have no plans for a 4k TV so unless they’re adding something fantastically compelling to the service (‘liquid’ viewing and cloud recording have been suggested but may be restricted by Rights issues like those we have with TV Anywhere*) then I’ll be a late adopter, if I bother at all. It's all getting a wee bit too expensive for the content we have available.

* Anywhere there’s wifi, that is. A half-arsed service at best when it’s working, which mine currently isn’t...

August 11, 2016

New TiVo box - Virgin TV V6

Picture posted on Virgin Media’s corporate Twitter account today. All they are saying at the moment is that it is ‘powered by TiVo’ and 4K UHD Ready for Netflix and YouTube.
Smaller than the current box (assuming that’s not a giant remote control alongside) but not exactly stunning looks. Certainly NOT a TiVo Bolt then...

August 09, 2016

Sky Sports Mix "coming soon"?

It was announced as a ‘Sky Exclusive’ but there are rumours that Sky Sports Mix will launch on Virgin Media on August 24th at noon, the HD channel appearing 507. It may just be speculation though - the 507 slot was oddly left unused in the recent channel number shuffle - I’ll post here if there’s any official confirmation.

August 04, 2016

New TiVo software rollout underway

Our friendly Virgin Media insider Spiderplant has posted on Cable Forum that the roll-out of the new software started on August 3rd. Preston, Southport and Wearside were the first areas upgraded. Keep an eye on this Cable Forum Update thread for further news.
The main benefits of the update are:
  • Series Link+ which gathers recordings and on demand content together, along with some improved options in how the Series Link+ logic works.
  • Improved On Demand menus which make it easier to find new on demand content.
  • Improvements to the core system and fixes for previous know issues - for instance the Dolby Digital optical issue is now resolved.

August 02, 2016

Sky Sports in Ultra HD launches August 13th

And, no great surprise, it’s exclusive to the new Sky Q platform. There’s an interesting article here about the 4k Sky Sports coverage:

It’s heartening to see that our humble HD service won’t be affected: 
Will the UHD broadcast have a negative impact on Sky’s high-def customers? Steve Smith, director of Sky Sports Productions doesn’t think so, naturally. “The first thing to make sure is the HD picture doesn’t get any worse for subscribers who won’t be using the 4K broadcast. We definitely don’t want to downgrade their experience.”

August 01, 2016

Universal HD and BBC Olympic channels arrive

BBC Olympics channels now available on the EPG:

HD channels 1-8 from 561 to 568.

Universal HD now live on 164.