April 19, 2018

Sky announce Spotify on Q but still no date for HDR or "Q over web"

Sky's results for the last quarter show the familiar pattern of adding more customers and the company, in the throes of takeover talks with 20th Century Fox, announced that Spotify will be on the Q boxes by the end of the week. Remember when our TiVo boxes had a Spotify App that was so flakey and useless it was pretty much unusable? I bet nobody misses it. Spotify software can be frustrating (ever used it on an iPhone? Ever wondered where all your disk space has gone??!).  Spotify on NowTV isn't any better, but hopefully on Sky Q it will be fully functional, which would be an improvement - it could hardly be any worse.
(Personally, I prefer Apple Music to Spotify: Apple's software and sound quality are, on my systems and to my ears, superior and they pay artists twice as much as the pittance offered by Spotify. But I digress…)
Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning Sky is that there's still no date set for the arrival of Sky Q over the internet, which I know is a service of some interest to visitors to this site.
Over on Cable Forum, there's a poll asking if VM TV customers are looking to switch to the new Q web service. Here's what I contributed:
I'm a "maybe". I currently have the full VM TV (whatever that's called these days) and top it up with Netflix and the occasional month with NowTV when there's something I fancy on Sky Atlantic. I can't have a dish on the outside of my home and have never wanted to directly line Murdoch's pocket, but neither of these will be relevant in 2019. We've been NTL/VM TV customers since the late nineties.
We're under contract until next January and we are in no hurry to leave VM/Netflix as, Atlantic aside, they give us everything we want to watch at an affordable price. But I'm intrigued by the new Sky Q and when it finally launches I'll consider the price (I'm on a good deal at the moment and I'm not prepared to pay more) and reports on its reliability. Having said that, I'm more likely to drop VM TV and just use Netflix and NowTV, possibly with a Freeview recorder, than try something new and probably flakey at launch. At the moment, Mrs Nialli is very happy with our pair of V6 boxes and her Netflix/VM combo, and that's probably the biggest factor of all...
But never say never, which is why I've said 'Maybe'.

March 28, 2018

Sky exclusive channel to close, May 1st

ITV is set to close its Sky exclusive pay TV channel ITV Encore on May 1st and will turn the brand into a digital on demand service.
The channel has primarily shown repeats of major ITV series such as Victoria and Broadchurch along with a number of original series such as Harlots.
ITV has confirmed that Encore will continue “purely as a box set brand”, available on demand service on Virgin, Sky, BT and TalkTalk.

Commonwealth Games in HD on the BBC Red Button

BBC Red Button HD will broadcast from 9pm to 7am when the live Commonwealth Games coverage  in underway, adding to the coverage on BBC One, Two and Four. The games are in Australia so it's one for night owls this time around. The games run (geddit??) from April 4th to April 15th
The HD Red Button service can also be found on channel 990.

March 23, 2018

Virgin's broadband top speed up again

Virgin Media is once again upping the maximum broadband speed it offers, bringing the fastest speed available in the UK up to 350Mbps. And if you already pay for the company’s 300Mbps then Virgin will upgrade you to 350Mbps for no extra charge.

March 09, 2018

Time's up for TiVo?

Multichannel.com is reporting that Virgin Media’s TiVo platform. Here's what they say:
Speaking at this week’s Cable Congress event in Dublin, Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s CEO, reportedly dropped a hint that the operator has plans to transition over to the “Horizon” user interface used by parent company, Liberty Global, but stressed that TiVo’s technology will remain in the picture.
“It’s no secret that Liberty Global has its own Horizon UI at the moment and you can expect that we will transition to that on the V6 box and we’ll do that in co-operation with TiVo,” he said, according to Broadband TV News. “They are very understanding of our desire to do that and will help us do that.”
A Virgin Media official said the company had nothing to add beyond Mockridge’s comments about using the Horizon UI. “There’s no changes to announce at this time and all UK set-top boxes continue to use the TiVo platform today,” the official said in an email.
Nothing concrete, nothing imminent. More can be seen at Multichannel.com's website 

February 09, 2018

Virgin teams up with Amazon for The Feed

Virgin Media has struck its first deal with Amazon to co-fund a £29m+ sci-fi series from one of the creators of The Walking Dead.

The 10-part series, called The Feed, is set in London in the near future. The series, adapted by the Walking Dead writer and co-executive producer Channing Powell, is set in a dystopian society where an implant that nearly everyone has that allows memories, emotions and information to be shared goes horribly wrong.

Virgin has been dipping its toes in some exclusive shows of late, but this is the first time to my knowledge they've actually been involved in new content creation for almost ten years.

We're still waiting for the rumoured Amazon Video app on the TiVo platform - maybe this new deal with Amazon may open the door to that appearing soon on our V6 boxes?

February 08, 2018

Radioline App on the V6

I've just discovered the Radioline App on my V6 box and it's pretty darn neat, giving access to hundreds of radio stations to supplement VM's fairly meagre offering - loving Magic Soul and Absolute 60s and 70s (showing my age, I know!).
Has anyone else used it? There doesn't appear to be a screensaver but I'm not sure that you need one with modern TVs.

February 05, 2018

Sky Atlantic to arrive on Virgin Media "in Q2 2018"

Yes, I know we've heard it all before and, yes, I know it's never materialised despite the rumours, but this time a number of sources are suggesting it could actually arrive before the summer. I'm a little sceptical, having published such rumours before many times since the channel's launch as a Sky exclusive all those years ago - the channel is still missing from our line up.
I hope I'm wrong and it arrives as rumoured, but if I were you I wouldn't put that Now TV box on eBay just yet...

January 29, 2018

Sky Q without the dish

The 2018 launch of Sky Q without a dish was first announced last year, but it doesn't look like it will arrive in the UK quite as soon as some hoped.
The 2018 Q1 Sky Financial Update says it will launch first in Italy, then Austria, followed by other "key markets".
Sky says the new move will allow "millions of homes" currently unable to install a dish to access the full Sky TV experience. Of course, you can get all the Sky channels in HD without a dish through Virgin Media (with one notable exception, Sky Atlantic) and the NowTV experience has all the channels at a lower cost too, but when Sky does finally launch Q without the dish there's no doubt it's a serious challenge to Virgin. I'd expect it to be a Sky broadband exclusive at launch and priced around the same as the satellite service (which VM often match or better if you call them), but Sky will launch aggressively and we should see some attractive offers from all pay-tv providers to compete. Interesting times.

January 27, 2018

Now TV ups its game

Launching at the end of February for just £15 is the Now TV Smart Stick. It will be the first Now TV box with voice search and can also control your TV. Oh, and you can pause live TV for up to 30 minutes.
If you already have Now packages you can buy the stick on its own for £15. If not, £20 will get you a stick and either one month of movies, a two-month entertainment pass or three months of kids' TV. If you want a month of sports thrown in instead, there's a £30 bundle for that.
Now TV still only streams at a maximum resolution of 720p but the Smart Stick itself is capable of outputting at full HD. Sky is finally upping the quality of Now TV to 1080p later this year, but it won't come as standard and will most likely cost more. I think the service has improved considerably from the early days of outages and buffering and have found the 720p on demand picture quality absolutely fine.
Now TV is a low cost and viable alternative to the year-long contracts offered by Virgin Media, Sky or BT if you don't need to record programmes and are happy with catch-up and On Demand services to compliment Freeview or Freesat. I use it solely for Sky Atlantic shows, dipping in and out when there's something I want to watch. I've just renewed my Virgin contract for another twelve months (got a very good reduction in my monthly bill from Retentions) but will consider Now TV seriously next year.
Or Sky Q without the dish. And more on that little temptation soon...