August 13, 2015

Curzon Home Cinema App launched on Virgin Media TiVo

If you're tired if the constant overloud battering of Hollywood's blockbusters, you may be pleased to hear that Curzon Home Cinema has launched a new App on Virgin Media's TiVo.
The pay-per-view VOD platform, which offers independent and art house films to rent, is operated by the Curzon Cinemas chain and offers smaller titles that may not receive a wide theatrical release in UK.
David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media, says: “We’re delighted to bring Curzon Home Cinema’s films and curated selections to our customers across the country. We’re passionate about keeping people entertained with an ever increasing movie offering which is why TiVo is the perfect home for Curzon’s app.”
A quick look at the Curzon Home Cinema site will give you an idea if this is for you. Current cinema releases are £10, older releases £2. Streams are usually in 720p.

August 12, 2015

AMC Global heading to Virgin Media?

There's a rumour over on Cable Forum that Virgin Media will be getting the new AMC Global channel this  month, in time for the launch of the Fear The Walking Dead first season. Nothing official yet, but the source is pretty well connected. No word if it will be SD or HD. BT were touting the channel as a BT "exclusive", so let's see what happens.

August 11, 2015

When TiVo die

I knew it was coming, but the failure of all my attempted recordings this weekend and the noises from within my TiVo not dissimilar to a washing machine going into the spin cycle were the final death throes of my original TiVo.
VM have quickly replaced the ailing relic from 2010 with a new box (Samsung, for those who keep notes on these things). Very efficient, all done within 24 hours of me calling 150.
But (and it's a big but) I've lost over 500gb of recordings as they couldn't be copied over to the new box, including some series I was halfway through watching (notably Humans and Wayward Pines) and others I hadn't started yet. Frustrating.
Now I'm somewhat naive about the technology inside a TiVo, but presumably it's not too dissimilar from a computer, so surely in this day and age copying data from one disc to another is not that difficult? Or am I missing something? Sure, it would take a while, but couldn't an engineer do this whilst he's filling in the paperwork (that seems to take an age)?
As it is, I will finish watching series using the 4 and Fox catch up services, but it is strange that in this day and age when 1Tb isn't a massive amount of data any more that a transfer process still isn't on offer.

August 07, 2015

New Now TV box: 1080p capable, but the service remains at 720p for now

There's a new, £14.99 Now TV box launched this month that boasts a faster processor, ethernet port  (if you find that more reliable) and is 1080p capable. (There are also USB and MicroSD slots, but apparently these aren't active at launch according to the Now online help.)
It's price leaps up 50% to £15, but I'm not sure if it's worth it as Sky is keeping the service at 720p for now. Still no Netflix on it either of course. Here are a couple of reviews:
Pocket Lint
Trusted Reviews
And thanks to Stephen Young for directing me to this review of the new box on TNW.
The v1 white box appears to be no more: the Now website is only offering the new model (which is black): http://www.nowtv.com/box

Virgin Media Q2 results: TV subscribers take a tumble but overall numbers are up

First the good news: more people are signing up to Virgin Media’s broadband and mobile phone bundles, helping the company makes its highest number of customers in five years, with an extra 19,000 taken out.
Now the bad: the number of its TV subscribers continued to fall in the UK (and Ireland) down 19,400 in the second quarter. Whilst the broadband service grows the TV service appears to be floundering, with the imminent XL price hike in September likely to further the customer drift to Sky or other services. I'm probably not alone in questioning the value I'm getting for my £119 a month cost, especially as Now TV seems to have sorted out its act and is a viable service at last for a reasonable cost. If the new Now TV full HD box launches this month then I will weigh up my options come the autumn.
Back to the results: the rate of people deserting Virgin Media fell to 14.1 per cent in the second quarter, down from 15.3 per cent a year earlier. Overall VM added another 106,000 customers on a net basis - those joining less those leaving - in the second quarter, giving it a total of 5.02 million UK customers. Overall UK revenues of £2.1billion for the first half of 2015 were reported, up 3.1 per cent on a year earlier.
Sky last month reported an 18 per cent jump in profits and an extra half a million customers in the UK and Ireland over the past year.

July 29, 2015

All change

Media Boy has posted the full list of channel number changes on Cable Forum. Here are the HD movers.

-Sky1 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 110 to Virgin Channel 109.
-Sky Living HD has moved from Virgin Channel 112 to Virgin Channel 111.
-Sky Arts HD has moved from Virgin Channel 282 to Virgin Channel 206.
-Eden HD has moved from Virgin Channel 210 to Virgin Channel 249.
-Discovery HD has moved from Virgin Channel 212 to Virgin Channel 251.
-Animal Planet HD has moved from Virgin Channel 217 to Virgin Channel 257.
-Nat Geo WILD HD has moved from Virgin Channel 229 to Virgin Channel 265.
-Nat Geo HD has moved from Virgin Channel 232 to Virgin Channel 268.
-Good Food HD has moved from Virgin Channel 262 to Virgin Channel 280.
-Sky Sports News HQ HD has moved from Virgin Channel 511 to Virgin Channel 501.
-Sky Sports 1 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 512 to Virgin Channel 502.
-Sky Sports 2 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 513 to Virgin Channel 503.
-Sky Sports 3 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 514 to Virgin Channel 504.
-Sky Sports 4 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 515 to Virgin Channel 505.
-Sky Sports 5 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 516 to Virgin Channel 506.
-Sky Sports F1 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 517 to Virgin Channel 507.
-British Eurosport HD has moved from Virgin Channel 522 to Virgin Channel 521.
-British Eurosport 2 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 526 to Virgin Channel 522.
-BT Sport 1 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 549 to Virgin Channel 527.
-BT Sport 2 HD has moved from Virgin Channel 550 to Virgin Channel 528.
-BT Sport ESPN HD has moved from Virgin Channel 530 to Virgin Channel 548.

July 25, 2015

The BT Sports Europe verdict

The mighty readership of this blog has voted on the addition of BT Sports Europe to the XL TV package for a mandatory £3 for ALL customers - and you are most definitely not happy.
394 votes were cast in the poll I ran after it was announced that another sports channel was arriving but it was going to cost all customers on Virgin's top telly tier more, regardless of whether they wanted it or not. 68% said they were unhappy, 9% weren't particularly bothered one way or the other and less than a quarter were happy.
I don't think anyone's unhappy to see additional HD channels on cable, but clearly it's prospect of yet another price increase, and this one for a specialist (albeit probably popular) channel, that is the problem. And it sets a dangerous precedent: if Virgin starts bundling other specialist channels into its bundles and charging for the privilege, many customers will vote with their wallets and quit.
I like the Champions League and for me the new deal is good value. But if had been, say Sky Sports F1 I was being charged for I would have been seriously unhappy. I have no interest in F1 so why should I pay for it?
Virgin has most likely done the deal so that it can market the cost of BT's Europe channel as cheaper than Sky (simply by making sure all top tier customers fund it, not just those that sign up specifically for it) but that's not fair to many, many customers.
I think the days of channel bundling are numbered, especially as the noise of cord cutting gets louder, so is this is the latest evolution of the principle of bundling (i.e. us paying through the nose for channels we don't watch) or is the start of the desperate death throes of an outdmoded pricing model?

July 23, 2015

Is your TiVo box rebooting itself? UPDATED

I've got two TiVo boxes and they both have been rebooting like crazy this morning. I went on to the VM Community pages and found that I wasn't the only one - it appears to be widespread. Anyone else seen this?
UPDATE: VM employee Spiderplant reports on Cable Forum that it's a national fault and under investigation, problem F003809631 

UPDATE:
Outage reported on The Register but by the time they published it had been resolved. Spiderplant tells me that it was rectified mid-afternoon.

July 20, 2015

If you're unhappy...

...at the prospect of having to pay £3 more a month for XL TV for a sports channel you don't want, check out the footnote note of the email Virgin is sending to all XL customers:
We really hope you want to continue enjoying all the unmissable sport and top TV heading your way in your bigger, better TV XL package. But if you wish to, you can cancel or change your package at any time before 31 August 2015 without paying any cancellation fees, by visiting virginmedia.com/biggerbetter for more information.
Some VMHD readers have reported that they've been told they don't have to pay the £3 if they don't want the Sports Europe channel, but when I asked VM about this I got the following response:

"Do XL customers have to pay £3 extra if Sept if they don't want more BT Sport?" 
"That is the case I'm afraid. We did our research and we know our XL customers enjoy watching sports, we’ve worked hard to keep costs down. If your price is impacted you’ll receive a letter or email explaining any contract terms. It depends on your package. You can also give us a call on 150/0345 454 1111 and we'll look at what we can do to help."

July 17, 2015

Happy with BT Sports Europe HD for an extra £3?

The immediate reaction to the news that VM will increase the price of the XL TV package in September by £3 and will include the new channel BT Sports Europe HD has resulted in a number of complaints to this blog. I can see why: even as a football fan myself, this should have been an option for customers rather than a mandatory increase for all customers on the top end TV package. How do you feel? There's a poll top right to voice your opinion, and feel free to post a Comment on this post, too.