Monday, 20 February 2012

Confirmed! Reminders are coming to Virgin Media's TiVo!

72% of you wanted them.

Now, they really are coming soon - from the Help and Support Forums:
Hi, we will be introducing reminders functionality to TiVo in our next phase code release. Will be able to provide more detail soon

....Will say more when I can, but thought that as it's now "confirmed", I would share the news on reminders as I'm sure many will be pleased.

Nick Ontiveros
TV Strategy, Digital Entertainment 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Lockdown for Virgin Media's TiVo; Multiscreen rights; CAT 5-less streaming?

The streaming blockade continues for Virgin's Media's
implementation of TiVo
Compared to the TiVo Premiere, Virgin Media's implementation of TiVo is, shall we say, locked-down by comparison.

Premiere owners can remove channels from the EPG (and filter Wishlists in the process), enjoy multi-room streaming, transfer recorded content to their personal computers and have a wide selection of Over-The-Top content to watch from the likes of Amazon and Netflix. Virgin TiVo owners.....can't do any of that, but we do have The Walking Dead app so that's OK then.

One of the main reasons (if not THE main reason) for the lockdown of Virgin's TiVo is due to Virgin being a carrier of content - as such, they require content carriage rights and good relationships with content providers like Sky. TiVo don't have to worry about these issues for the Premiere which is sold at retail in the States, as Virgin's Nick Ontiveros (TV Strategy, Digital Entertainment) explained on the Help & Support Forums regarding the lack of multi-room streaming functionality:
It's not a question of the functionality on the software, it's the product solution and the rights - which isn't a license disagreement, it's a negotiation full stop.

For some CPs, these rights haven't existed before, and for others, they've learned their lessons after what happened with Cablevision and Comcast in the US last year. TiVo in the US gets to completely skirt the whole rights issue altogether because they are an add-on product and have no relationship with the content and carriage.

Multiscreen and particularly "multiroom" rights are evolving, and for a lot of our content providers this is new territory. We are hard at work to make big strides in the Entertainment Anywhere space, so it all falls under the same negotiating umbrella.
Also, Virgin hate the idea of their customers have to use network cables hooked up to their TiVo for multi-room streaming, and they're testing a better way to achieve that goal:
And the product - people hate wires, we've found, and not a lot of people have their TiVo right next door to their router. It's not going to help our customers win any interior design awards if we've got CAT 5 running through the home. We're testing through a better way to do it, so when we bring it to market it will be a finished product that everyone can use if they want it.
Personally I think Homeplugs are a great alternative to running CAT 5 cables through the home, but Virgin appear to have other ideas and it will be interesting to see what (if anything) they come up with.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

City analysts quiz Virgin Media over lack of apps and iPad app for TiVo

Where is it then?!?!
Regular readers of this blog will know I've been disappointed with the glacier-paced rollout of decent apps for TiVo, which is looking increasing weak in this area compared to other home entertainment devices like Game Consoles, Smart TVs and Media Players - a point raised by City analysts during a meeting with Virgin following the release of the Q4 2011 results. Broadband TV News & PaidContent:UK reports that Virgin's COO, Andrew Barron, said that:
It’s the easiest thing in the world, because it runs in Flash to publish all sorts of stuff to it, but that’s not consistent with the TiVo environment, we want the Twitters and the Facebooks and the iPlayers
Okkkayyyy, I hate to nitpick, but a Facebook app was described as 'Coming Soon' within Virgin's own YouTube video (uploaded in June last year) to promote forthcoming TiVo apps:

But what about the delays for the iPad app? The one which was part of the reported features of the 15.2 software update? The one which some cunning customers have had kinda working now for quite a while?
We’ve got it, it works. Ninety-nine percent of companies would have rolled it by now - it’s stable, impressive - but we haven’t…We wanted to make sure early adopter enthusiasts will love it - but that, when it hits, it goes. mass-market quite quickly and is not viewed as some flaky application for enthusiasts but is polished and doesn’t generate calls to support. It shows you our philosophy - we’re a mass-market company.
There is a fundamental difference between what we’re trying to do with TiVo and what a lot of other people around the industry are doing. We are an open platform, we carry Spotify, we were iPlayer’s founder and largest distributor, we’re Sky’s largest distributor for premium content
Looking ahead, CEO Neil Berkett aims to have Virgin's entire TV Customer base (currently 3.8 million) on TiVo, "In five years time we’ll retire Liberate, in five years time our customers will be exclusively on TiVo, and I’m sure we’ll then be considering the son of TiVo”.

Virgin Media deny TiVo Service fee increase after TV contract expires for existing customers

Earlier today, I was reading through the transcript of the conference call which followed the release of the latest financial results for Virgin Media, and I came across this quote from Virgin's Chief Executive, Neil Berkett:
You'll have seen that we've increased prices to existing customers by 5% in April. We've also made the move to increase the price of TiVo for all new TiVo subscribers from GBP 3 to GBP 5, which takes place immediately. And in 12 months time, as current TiVo customers roll off their first 12-month contract, they will migrate from GBP 3 to GBP 5
I can't say I was chuffed to read that, along with other customers. All of a sudden, YouView was looking more tempting as an alternative.

Virgin have now clarified this information on their Help and Support Forums:
Hi I've spoken to the TiVo team about this and they've asked me to pass on the following about this.

Whilst we reserve the right to review and change our prices to ensure we are able to continue to deliver leading products and services, we can confirm that customers that already have TiVo, or take TiVo before 28th February, will stay at £3 per month per box, and will not see an increase at the end of their 12m contract; only customers adding a new TiVo box from 28th February will pay £5 per month per box.We're sorry for any confusion.
Customers like myself you got TiVoed for £3 per month per customer account should also not see any increase in the TiVo Service fee when their contracts expire (thanks to Digital Fanatic at Cable Forum).

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Virgin Media's TiVo: Hunting (again) for video-streaming apps; Lovefilm; Netflix

Screenshot of old Netflix app for stateside TiVo Premiere

A whiff of hope for Virgin Media customers hoping for a TiVo Netflix app was offered today, with Chief Executive Officer Neil Berkett stating that he wishes to add video streaming apps/services to Virgin's PVR such as Lovefilm and Netflix. However, its “early days” for any talks and Bloomberg reports that no announcements are imminent.

Berkett said that Virgin "want TiVo to be completely open, we’re talking to everyone." It should be noted that Virgin Media’s director of digital entertainment Cindy Rose said the same thing back in December 2010 when discussing content providers being apped-up for TiVo:
We’re talking to everybody...We’re very open to all of them. It’s just a question of doing the right deal, making sure our customers actually want it - power to the people; we’re a Virgin company ...If Lovefilm came along and said ‘we’ve got something that adds to this’, we’d be the first ones to embrace them - we’re not precious about that.
It also should be noted that Light Reading Cable doesn't fancy Virgin's chances of ever getting the likes of Netflix onto TiVo:
When it comes to combining TiVo and Netflix, it may be a case of wishful thinking for Virgin. In the U.S., Netflix's contracts with content providers prevent TiVo from adding the streaming service on boxes distributed by cable MSOs such as RCN Corp. , Suddenlink Communications and Charter Communications Inc.
So, while video streaming apps for Virgin Media's TiVo would be most welcome, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for them to appear. Besides, breathing is good for you.

Virgin Media's 4th Quarter Results for 2011: 435,000 TiVo Customers

The invasion continues
Virgin Media's 4th Quarter Results for 2011 are in, and they are decent results too, with the cable company finally making a profit. As for TiVo, another 273,000 customers added the PVR to their package, which means that in total, 435,000 customers (12% of Virgin's TV Customer base) have obtained TiVo (not that they've had any choice since late September's 'retirement' of the legacy V+ HD PVR).

The PDF document is an interesting read, revealing that:
  • There's been a 19% increase in proportion of Sky customers taking Virgin TV
  • 40% of those said they wanted TiVo
  • Over half of TiVo customers recommend to friends/family
  • TiVo customers rate product 19% higher than comparable TV customers (NPS survey)
  • Attracting Sky switchers – 55% of TiVo new adds were from Sky
  • Search function valued – 1m searches in November
  • 2.4m app sessions in November, at 21 minutes a time
  • Longer term users prefer “My Shows” to the TV guide
  • Unlocks and enables a strong desire to personalise the TV experience
  • 8m “Thumbs Up/Down” rating content in November 
  • A TiVo box costs Virgin Media around £100. 
  • 66% of TiVo customers are on Virgin's XL TV package.
Meanwhile, TiVo also played a key role in pushing Virgin over the 1 billion mark for VOD Views in 2011. 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Monthly fee increase for Virgin Media TiVos ordered from end of February

Virgin Media Customer? Still haven't got TiVoed? Then you better get a move on because the prices for many of Virgin's services will increase from the start of April.

According to Virgin's web site, the M pack is going up to £7. The L pack increases to £19.50, while the XL pack increases to £26.50.

But what about the monthly TiVo charge? Well, for TiVos already ordered that will remain at an additional £3 per month. But from the end of February, any TiVo boxes ordered by new or existing customers will cost an additional £5 per month.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

More on the latest software update for Virgin Media's TiVo

Scarlett Johansson was not happy to learn that the latest software
update to TiVo disables network access for 3rd Party-Apps
Deployment of the latest software update for Virgin Media's TiVo is underway, both my 1TB and 500Gb boxes were updated overnight to Version 15.2.01-2-C00. Virgin have revealed some more details about the update on their Help & Support Forums, which is host to plenty of unhappy feedback regarding the removal of network access for 3rd-Party Apps:

As a number of you have noticed, we’re currently piloting our final bug fixing patch to our 15.2 software.

This software includes a number of changes, including improvements to YouTube performance, gearing up for the launch of new red button services and stability improvements.

One change that has raised some questions from some of our pilot users is a change to the way in which TiVo communicates with companion applications.

We built the TiVo service with two sets of APIs for integrating with other devices, one for our use and one for use by third party applications.
Without being able to go into extensive detail, due to the unique way we have integrated TiVo, there are capabilities of the VM API that could, if misused, affect the stability and security of our TiVo service. In order to keep our system secure, we have disabled the use of some of the APIs to eliminate this risk.

We realise this means that anyone using certain non-Virgin Media companion apps will no longer be able do so, however as you will be aware we are working on our own official companion apps for TiVo. We’re spending a lot of time right now making sure these will give customers a fantastic experience and hope to have more news about them soon.

We appreciate that this might not be what some of you wanted to hear but we’d rather be upfront about the need to disable this feature for the time being.
The waiting continues for Virgin to release those official apps, for both fans of Apple and Android mobile tablets.

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