December 16, 2014

Liverpool FC TV returns to Virgin Media

For those feeling desperately underserved by Virgin's sports offering, an early Christmas present: Liverpool FC TV is back on channel 544. But it's now subscription only, and £7 a month. And only in SD (talks regarding HD carriage have stalled indefinitely apparently).

December 13, 2014

What would you like from Virgin Media next?

It's not been a bad year for the average Virgin Media customer, but if you check over at the various forums you'd think there were huge gaps still in the service. One chap has just posted that he'd like to see 22 missing channels, including Universal Channel hd; Life time +1 and hd; Pop Girl; Horse and Country; Nat Geo Wild hd; 5* + 1; Sony movies; +1; More movies ; + 1; True movies 2 and a host of other EPG fillers. Is it me or is that scraping a pretty shallow barrel now? Of these, only Universal HD would be added to my own list of Sky Atlantic, ITV Encore and History HD of stuff we're missing.
So I've put a quick poll together as I struggle to think of holes in the VM offering these days - what would you most like to get from Virgin Media in 2015? Let me know.

December 01, 2014

Vodafone rumours

There is a lot of speculation in the telecoms market that there are a number of huge mergers/acquisitions on the cards as the industry looks to consolidate, and it looks like Virgin Media may be swept up in the maelstrom.
BT is said to be looking to acquire O2 to give it a presence in the mobile market.
Vodafone is said to be in advanced talks to acquire Tesco's BlinkBox turkey just in time for Christmas, and is also rumoured to be looking closely at Virgin Media. Whilst a deal for Virgin Media doesn't appear to be imminent there is some synergy: Vodafone hired Cindy Rose from Virgin Media last September - Rose was a senior executive at Virgin for a number of years when Neil Berkett was the big cheese.
No doubt the rich people at the top will get richer from this kind of deal - what it would mean to the average punter is less predictable.

November 28, 2014

Sky Movies arriving on Android

Virgin Media has announced it’s making available Sky Movies on Android.
Virgin Media customers with Android devices can now access the service via the Sky Movies Android app. 
But whilst iPhone and iPad users already have access to both Sky Sports and Sky Movies on their devices, Android is only getting Sky Movies for now. Doesn't work with the Lollipop release of Android either, but apparently should do soon.
Virgin Media says it’s ‘working hard’ to bring Sky Sports to Android, however there’s no announced date yet.

TiVo growing strongly

TiVo Inc. reported growth in services and technology revenue at the upper end of expectations as the digital video recorder pioneer continued to add subscribers. For the current quarter, TiVo forecast earnings of $2 million to $5 million and service-and-technology revenue of $87 million to $90 million.
TiVo’s subscriber base has continued to expand with a boost from more distribution agreements with pay-TV providers such as Virgin Media, with total subscriptions reached more than 5.1 million, up 32% from 3.9 million a year earlier.
In an interview Chief Executive Tom Rogers said North American pay-TV subscribers climbed 69% and that the company is serving 19 of the 25 top operators in the U.S. Overall, the company added 337,000 pay-TV-carrier subscribers, an increase of 14% from a year earlier, while pay-TV carrier-related revenue rose 37%.
At the upper end of the market, the company’s $5,000 Mega TiVo for US customers “will be out probably in the second quarter of next year, “ he said.

November 21, 2014

All TiVo updates will be completed by Tuesday 25th

Virgin Media price rise

Overall customers are seeing an average 5.9% increase, the company said. This is well above the rate of inflation.
Those on its Big Daddy and Big Kahuna bundles, which include Sky Sports/Movies, unlimited calls and the fastest broadband, will pay £4.50 a month more, with some customers paying £99.50 a month, or £1,194 a year, for their service. (I'm still on the old VIP deal and suspect I can save some money by moving to one of the newer bundles - this latest price rise will prompt me to action at last.)
Unlike its rivals, Virgin Media said it would not increase its calls charges and that its 1571 ansaphone service would remain free. BT and Sky now charge for this service – £22.20 a year in BT’s case.
More info over at MediaGuardian 

November 16, 2014

Top TiVo Tips revisited

When the TiVo first appeared on Virgin Media I posted some Top Tips for getting the best out of the new box. Since then over a million further customers have the joys of the TiVo in their homes, so here are those tips, and a few others, again:
  1. To reboot the TiVo don't yank out the power lead without trying to do a soft reboot on the interface first: Thumb Down - Thumb Up - Play - Play
  2. To move up and down a list a page at a time, use the Channel Up and Down buttons
  3. To quickly delete a recording, select and press Clear
  4. To improve the picture quality of SD channels, ensure that both 720p and 1080i are selected in video out
  5. If (4) makes your TV judder too much when switching between SD and HD, just select 720p
  6. (the next few are from erstwhile mega commenter Streaky7) just press the play button when you are on a show - you don't have to go through all the options to then select play show.
  7. Remember the Tivo will pick up all the recordings but it will not record them all. It recognises when you have a programme/episode recorded so doesn't record it again 
  8. HD NUT? When you set up a wishlist, then go to Category and select HD. This will mean when the programme/film you want to record comes on, it will record the HD version = be aware though, if there is no HD version and only SD, and you have HD selected in category, then it probably wont record it in SD!
  9. Hiccups Folder - My Shows & Recordings on the main menu (home button), then select 'Recording Hiccups'. Here you can see why recordings are failing to record if you are wondering
  10. (And from Commenter Richard) Quick jumps in menus
    pressing channel up or down when in a menu with a list takes you to the top or bottom option in the menu.
    EPG to search in a single click(courtesy of CWaring)
    Pressing ‘Last CH’ (aka button on bottom right of peanut ) whilst in the full EPG will take you to the "Search All TV" page.
    Understanding the FF or Rew
    FF and Rew have 3 speeds; the more times you press the faster it goes.
    Press the 4 time and it is back to the slowest of the 3 speeds.
    FF and Rew also have a ‘reaction’ control when you press play. 
    @ speed 1, Play just starts from the point you press it. you should react fast enough when you press the play. 
    @ speed 2 and 3, when you press play it bounces back (or forward when rew) a few second. (30 at fastest I think!)
    To prevent the reaction bounce, press Pause instead and then play.
    Missed something (or I’m bored of this bit!!)
    In a recording or buffer (ie regular viewing)
    • Jump backward 8 seconds... Use the ‘back’ button (@ 7oclock from the yellow pause)
    • Jump forward 30 seconds... Use the forward button (@ 5oclock from the yellow pause)
    • Press and hold these buttons to jump to the start or finish of a recording.
    Pausing a 2nd (or 3rd turner)
    You can switch between tuners by pressing Info, then scrolling down to the bottom icons. Then you can switch between tuners and pause any of them to go back to them later. note the buffer is only an hour (I think) so if you want to pause for longer – press the record button!
    Super short cut keys (courtesy of Miker @ tivo community) 
    The good old shortcuts still work - though it's "home" and not "TiVo" button:
    • Home+Home : My recordings (now playing)
    Home+1 : Manage series links
    Home+2 : Planned recordings (todo list)
    Home+3 : Wishlists
    Home+4 : Search all TV
    Home+5 : Browse all TV
    Home+0 : full screen TV + pause ?
    • Pressing CLEAR works as a shortcut for delete on most pages - most handy on the "my shows" page
    • Press SKIP >| to quickly jump to the top or bottom of long lists , e.g. My Shows
    • Channel up/down works as page up/down in lists
    • Press and hold TEXT switches your TV AV sources - that's how I flip between VM TiVo / TiVo S1 / DVD
    • Press and hold POWER button turn turn TV on/off - a short press makes TiVo go into standby
    • Press SLOW to toggle mini TV screen at top right
    • Pressing UP while watching a recording, cycles the output through all the available video formats. e.g. 576p / 1080p
    • Pressing OK while watching Live TV or a recorded program brings up a small 3 line TV listing guide

November 14, 2014

ITV Be HD

There's a "coming soon" for this channel on 179. Someone, somewhere, will be happy. Possibly. 

Who needs Sky Atlantic now?

Sky Atlantic is the one notable channel missing from Virgin Media these days - sure, some may hanker for Universal HD or Discovery Shed HD but we don't even have the SD version of Atlantic as Sky keeps a tight reign on its availability to non-satellite carriers by overpricing it.
But these days, if you want Sky Atlantic shows in HD you can watch via Now TV on demand for £6.99 a month (I still don't recommend the streaming channel in SD though unless you have the patience of a saint). Furthermore, although the official DVDs and Blu Rays still aren't made available until 10 months after a season has finished the online versions of HBO's finest now appear within a week or two of a show finishing on Atlantic. For example, the recent (and final) season of Boardwalk Empire ended in October and we already have it on Amazon Instant, Blinkbox and iTunes to buy in HD. (On the SmartTV-friendly Amazon Instant Video season 5 is £17.99 for HD, £13.99 for SD.)
And there's always the naughty-naughty alternative methods of watching it.
So how big a hole does the absence of Sky Atlantic leave me? None whatsoever now to be honest. And with the ending of Boardwalk and conclusion of Mad Men next spring, there's only really Game of Thrones I'll be bothered about next year, and I'll most likely catch up with that on Now TV for a couple of months or wait for the Amazon release.
Maybe now Sky will drop the price and Virgin will bite, but I'm not really fussed these days.