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Virgin Media launches next-gen TiVo TV platform

by Scott Bicheno on 1 December 2010, 12:49

Tags: Virgin (NASDAQ:VMED)

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The next generation

This looks like quite a big deal. Virgin Media (VM) has launched what it's calling "The UK's first next-generation entertainment platform". This takes the form of a new set-top-box powered by TiVo, which will connect to the web via the Virgin network and provide what looks like an unprecedented level of access to video-on-demand (VOD) and web-based programming.

We just got off the phone with VM and were corrected in our assumption that this is equivalent to Google TV. While the latter aims to bring a PC-like experience to the TV, Virgin's new platform aims to enhance the existing TV experience with online content and an app store. We were also reminded that Google itself doesn't provide content.

Of course VM's biggest competitor is Sky. The key differentiators in this context revolve around VOD, specifically the speed and flexibility of delivery. Sky produces a lot more of its own content but what makes VM unique is that it has its own network. This, in principle, allows it to allocate a lot more bandwidth to the delivery of video content.

So this new platform will allow instant streaming of VOD content, as well as rapid downloading onto the 1TB of storage provided. Furthermore the 10Mbps cable modem it comes with apparently doesn't eat into the rest of your broadband bandwidth - the 10 megs is dedicated to the platform.

The integration of TiVo brings an established internet TV platform, and should assist with the search and discovery of what is already a bewildering choice of content. There will also be an app store that will offer apps unique to TiVo.

"This is a landmark moment in the UK's digital revolution and vividly illustrates how Virgin Media is the only company who can provide the ultimate digital lifestyle," Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at VM.

"For the first time, viewers will have a truly personalised viewing experience so they can get the most out of the wonderful worlds of the internet and TV all in one place. We're really excited to bring our customers what is just the first of successive generations of transformational services based on this unique TiVo-powered platform."

The new platform will become available in the middle of this month, costing £199 + £40 installation + £26.50 per month when taken with a Virgin phone line (£32.50 without). It's launching with two tuners, but that will be upgraded to three early next year. You can find out more about it here, and we've asked to be able to review it, so fingers crossed.


HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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Wow, this is fantastic! I must ring Virgin and order… oh, wait, I can't get Virgin broadband on my residential street in a densely populated area less than 2.5 miles from Manchester City Centre.

Doesn't really matter how good the platform is if people can't get it…
This is terrible news :( :(

I've been waiting for the return of Tivo for years! I sold my original UK Tivo when I bought a HDTV, but I've missed it; it was the best PVR solution around by far. Features such as predictive recording/tivo suggestions (where it would use spare disk space to record suggested shows that I might like based on my viewing habits) are still way ahead of anything that even Sky+HD can do.

Now they finally come back to the UK, and they sign a pact with Virgin :( A service that I cannot get, and wouldn't particularly want to get even if I could…

Fingers crossed that they decide to opt for a sensible route to market once they have re-established a subscriber base and release an independent system that I can use with freeview or Sky+.

Wow, this is fantastic! I must ring Virgin and order… oh, wait, I can't get Virgin broadband on my residential street in a densely populated area less than 2.5 miles from Manchester City Centre.

Doesn't really matter how good the platform is if people can't get it…

Similar for me in Glasgow.

All the local streets around me have Virgin (many friends have it too). I live on a corner - the street next to me has Virgin, but, the part of the street I'm on doesn't (a fairly main road). The reason our part of a main street doesn't have it (while the other half does), after asking NTL (as they were then) about this many years ago, is that permission to dig up the pavement at our part of the road was denied by the council as they'd only just put a new pavement down. So everyone else around lands up with Virgin and we don't - genius!

Really wish Virgin was available - far better than Sky and although I've no complaints about BE broadband, I'd prefer Virgin cable too.
There's always issues with the council and digging roads for what is a non essential service (unlike water, gas or electricity), especially around new areas. Unfortunately the beauracracy involved with new estates, laying of roads and cabling doesn't always match up and some services just cannot be supplied :(

IMO, the Virgin network needs a lot of work on the existing setup before more expansion goes ahead anyways, there are some areas in the UK with dreadful service due to over utilisation and degraded cabling that needs looking at.

Anyways, slightly off topic there, but i'm awaiting news that I am on the trial list for this, only 500 of us can get on it and theres lots of people out there with their names on that list, if I get it I will keep you informed of how it is. I applied too late for the new superhub (their terminology, not mine) for 50 meg services, and they are rolling that out soon, but not been overly impressed by the normal 20 meg hub so far.
on the trial, due for install next Tuesday :)