November 26, 2015

Exclusive content on Virgin Media? Apparently so

Press Release:
The Evil Dead franchise is being resurrected, and it’s landing exclusively on Virgin Media next week. That means only you can watch Bruce Campbell’s bulldozer chin and chainsaw hand make a comeback, and we are very excited.
Whether you’re already a fan of this cult favourite, are partial to hilarious horror comedies or simply on the lookout for a new show to get stuck into, you won’t want to miss this Virgin exclusive. And what’s more, you’ll have supreme bragging rights among your mates as Ash Vs Evil Dead isn’t available to watch anywhere else in the UK!
The only place you’re going to be able to watch this awesome new horror comedy series is exclusively with Virgin Media in TV On Demand. The first five episodes are arriving on 1 December and will be available to watch on TV Anywhere from 9 December, with further episodes released weekly. And why not go the whole hog and watch the entire film series, too? We’ve got The Evil Dead (Cert 18), Evil Dead II (Cert 15), Army Of Darkness (Cert 15) and even the 2013 reboot Evil Dead (Cert 18), for your eyes only all on Virgin Movies!

November 24, 2015

Virgin price rise poll confirms level of discontent

The poll I've run on this blog over the last ten days illustrates the level of unhappiness in Virgin Media's customer base with the news of yet another price rise in early 2016.
Only a quarter of the 349 respondents think they will stick with their current package, considering it good value. Half of those who voted will be looking to downsize the package at the first contractual opportunity, whilst the remaining quarter will leave Virgin Media for good.
That should make extremely worrying reading for Virgin management. Sure, the poll's 349 voters may not be an accurate representation of the overall customer base, but if anything we are the people who care about and use the service the most and we probably pay the biggest monthly subs as a result.
I've been a Virgin/NTL customer for almost 15 years, but the TV service is no longer good value and our TiVo boxes seem to get slower every time I turn them on. I have a mandatory phone line I never use and over 200 channels I never watch, and broadband that is way faster than my family's needs, served by a flakey "super" hub which needs rebooting daily. My bill is currently £124 a month.
I will be seriously considering my options when my contract is up in February. Now TV, coupled with our Smart TV's Netflix, Amazon and YouTube, will cut our monthly bill by more than half and give me all the TV programming we need.
And they're putting prices up? Again?
Not happy.

November 19, 2015

Considering BT YouView? Like your sport? Maybe think again

BT YouView may not be as attractive an option for sports fans as previously thought, and sometimes it feels like the sole role of Ofcom is to maintain Sky's dominance of the UK market.
Ofcom has just announced its decision to remove the regulation requiring Sky to offer Sky Sports on a wholesale basis. Sky Sports on BT YouView is the only supply arrangement for Sky Sports under Ofcom's wholesale must-offer regulation (Virgin Media's carriage of Sky Sports is different and unaffected by this ruling). Ofcom says that it
"expects all providers to engage willingly, constructively and in a timely manner to ensure sports continues to be made widely available to viewers. Ofcom continues to monitor the pay TV market closely. Should evidence emerge of practices which we consider to be prejudicial to fair and effective competition, we will quickly reassess the need for regulation."
In other words Ofcom is expecting Sky to play fair (stop sniggering at the back of the class, Murdoch Jnr) and give BT it's Sports channels at a commercially sensible price. That's the same BT Sky has been at loggerheads with for the last few years over sports rights. It doesn't take a genius to see that all the power is now in Sky's hands, who can fall into a convenient commercial dispute with BT that would remove Sky Sports from the BT service whilst everyone waits for Ofcom to "quickly reassess the need for regulation". Ofcom has never done anything "quickly", and those months, possibly years, could kill BT as an option for sports fans stone dead.
Oh, and don't expect the Government to intervene: it's too busy dismantling the BBC and Channel 4 for Rupert to pay attention to this one.

November 18, 2015

Sky Q announced

Whilst all Virgin Media customers have to look forward to in 2016 is yet another price hike for a broadband turbo boost few need, Sky customers can anticipate a new premium TV service called Sky Q early in the new year.
Sky Q is a new brand from Sky and is a complete family of devices that promises to change how Sky provides television services around the home. New hardware includes the Sky Q or Sky Q Silver set-top box that's the heart of the setup, a Sky Q mini box along with supporting apps and a new Sky Q remote. Sky is proposing Sky Q as a premium TV service no doubt at a premium price, too. Hmm.
More details on Pocket Lint and The Telegraph and many others.

November 16, 2015

That price rise - vote now!

Sorry about the delay in adding the poll to gauge reaction to the announcement of yet another price hike due early in 2016 - you can vote now.

November 13, 2015

Time to get angry - yet another Virgin Media price hike announced

I've just about had enough of this - anyone else feel the same? A poll top right to assess the customer reaction to yet another price hike. Here's the story:
Virgin Media customers who are signed up to one of the company's "Big Bundles" will soon see their monthly bill get an inflation-busting price increase. The cable provider says "the vast majority" of subscribers will see their packages rise by up to 5.4 percent (between £3.49 and £3.99 a month), which will include a £1 line rental increase. The changes won't happen right away -- they'll come into effect next February.
The pricing breaks down as follows: customers on a Big Connection or Big Easy package will have an extra £3.49 bolted on to their monthly bill. Those on the Big Bang, Big Kahuna, Big Daddy plans will get the slightly larger £3.99 increase. Broadband-only customers who were lumped with a bigger bill in November are exempt from Virgin Media's latest price review.
The timing of the hike has prompted many Virgin Media customers to voice their displeasure on social media. When the company bumped its top broadband speed up to 200Mbps at the end of September, it said the boost would incur no extra charge. However, just six weeks later, many of those customers are now receiving notice of a price increase.

New in November on Netflix UK

(Stuff I'd recommend is highlighted in bold, and the links are to a site I've just found called The List which looks pretty neat.

1 November 
Awake: The Life Of Yogananda
The Captains
Chaos on the Bridge
Chicken Run
Dominion Creek: Season 1
The Duchess
Enemy at the Gates
Laid: Seasons 1 and 2
Home Alone
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
Moving Art: Underwater
Moving Art: Waterfalls
The Seven Deadly Sins: Season 1
Still Game: Seasons 1, 2, 3
The Thread
Urban Legends: Season 3
Velvet: Seasons 1 and 2
4 November
Big Momma's House
6 November
Master of None: Season 1
10 November
Big Eden
11 November
The French Connection
That Thing You Do!
13 November
Call Me Lucky
John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid
Jungle Book 2
Some Kind Of Wonderful
With Bob & David: Season 1 (what Bob Odenkirk did before Breaking Bad)
14 November
15 November
Bad Blood
The Brittany Murphy Story
Don't Look Back
Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas
Meet My Valentine
Nanny Cam
The Voices
16 November
Happily N'Ever After
Testament of Youth
18 November
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Life Without Dick
Lords of Dogtown
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild
20 November
Marvel’s Jessica Jones (looks promising: in the same space as the excellent Daredevil series)
22 November
Love is Strange
Pound Of Flesh
23 November
Mortdecai (it's that Johnnie Depp movie that bombed. Approach with caution but it might be fun)
24 November
The Haunted Hathaways
25 November
Beavis and Butt-head Do America
King Solomon's Mines
Red Riding Hood
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Some Kind of Wonderful
28 November
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Best of Enemies
29 November
Force Majeure
I've been watching almost exclusively Netflix in recent weeks, catching up with The Bridge and Line of Duty. Still great value for the £5.99 I pay each month (early adopter) and it does make me wonder why I pay so much for the hundreds of channels I never watch. Anyone else feel like that?

TiVo passes four million customers

TiVo announced this week that it has passed four million customers, mainly thanks to its success at overseas cable companies:
Tivo today announced that the company has surpassed 4 million international subscriptions through its traditional TiVo offering. This announcement represents an important milestone in TiVo's international growth and comes as the result of accelerated subscription growth in Europe through customers such as Virgin Media/Liberty Global in the United Kingdom, ONO/Vodafone in Spain, and Com Hem in Sweden -- each respectively the largest cable company in their country.
"TiVo continues to offer one of the most compelling experiences for international television operators through the ability to integrate traditional linear content, video on demand and internet streaming services, such as Netflix, all in one interface on the television or on mobile devices such as the tablet or smartphone," said David Sandford, Vice President, General Manager, International at TiVo. "Our recent acquisition of Cubiware has expanded our ability to service international markets allowing us to offer products to almost every television operator regardless of size or ARPU in a given market. We now offer a portfolio of products to large, medium and small sized operators seeking a diverse array of products and features to serve a wide spectrum of subscribers."
More on CNN Money.

November 06, 2015

Lifetime and H2 in HD, arriving December 1st 2015

Be still my beating heart.
Dateline Hollywood has reported that;
John Malone’s Liberty Global [owner of Virgin Media] has extended its distribution deal with A+E Networks and is also launching two new HD channels in the UK. The long-term pan-European carriage deal covers A+E Networks’ UK channels on Liberty Global platforms in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Lifetime and H2 will be also now be available in HD in both the UK and Ireland for the first time. 
But still no History Channel HD on Virgin Media? Surely that would have been the obvious one to add? After all, according to A&E:
“H2 allows us to expand on the quality content available on our flagship History channel by representing the very heart of the History brand as well as offering viewers more information, more facts and even more entertainment.”
Sounds a bit like having ITV2 without ITV. Even odder it's reported that H2 is closing down and being replaced by new channel Viceland.
In other news on the VM channel lineup...oh, there isn't any. No more rumours of Sky Atlantic or Universal HD or AMC or an Amazon Instant Video app or anything. Been a dull year, notable only for price hikes and broadband speed promises.

UPDATE: Lifetime HD has arrived early (9th November) on 209 (thanks for the tip, Media Boy)

US TiVo Bolt reviews