Sunday, 23 September 2012

Virgin Media giveth and taketh away multi-room streaming for TiVo

Hopes were raised - briefly - when TiVo customers discovered that the long-awaited multi-room streaming feature was working for some content from Channel 5. Virgin has since confirmed that they are testing this feature for future deployment:
The blockade continues for streaming between TiVos.
We've been testing the Multi Room Streaming feature on TiVo, to do this we had to switch a few channels on for a short period of time. These channels have now been switched off so you will no longer be able to use the feature. Once we're happy it's working the way it should we'll be able to confirm a launch date. More news as and when we have it.
There's no word yet regarding if multi-room streaming on Virgin's TiVo will use the customer's own home network, or if streaming will involve Virgin's own network (via sending the stream to the nearest headend and back again). Virgin were previously investigating a method of enabling streaming within the home while excluding the use of the customer's home network.

This (and the complex nature of UK content rights) had contributed to the delay of multi-room streaming, along with the iPad app. Since Virgin are a Pay-TV operator, they have to take into consideration the content rights owned by the channels broadcasting on Virgin's network. TiVo sold in the States have no worries since their sold at retail.

A breakthrough of sorts was made with the announcement of Virgin TV Anywhere, but for now the waiting for streaming between multiple TiVos continues.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Virgin Media's TV Anywhere Service: 30 channels to stream & enhanced for TiVo

More details have been revealed from Virgin Media and various media sources regarding the forthcoming TV Anywhere service, which will allow customers to stream around 30 live TV channels and over 2000 hours of On Demand content directly to their PC or Tablet device.

Virgin TV Anywhere will use adaptive bitrate streaming technology (currently used by the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm), so the more bandwidth available on your connection, the better the stream quality. For reference, 720p HD streams via Netflix only requires 3.5Mb.

According to CNET, streaming will only be available via WiFi. Recorded content won't be available to stream, but Virgin are apparently looking into offering that option in the future.

There's no word yet on what the available channels will be, but I wouldn't expect to see any Sky channels on the service since its likely that the likes of Sky One will be exclusive to stream on Sky Go.

Customers without TiVo (and Virgin are trying their best to convert you) will also be able to use Virgin TV Anywhere's web access on their PCs to enable limited TV Recommendations.

Customers with Tivo will also have access to a Tablet app which will allow you to remote control your TiVo and change channels, fast-forward and rewind live TV via buttons or gesture control, search and discover content, manage content and set recordings.

There is no extra charge for the service and all content will be available to stream regardless of what TV package you're subscribed to.

Virgin TV Anywhere is scheduled to launch this Autumn. The app will be available for Fruit owners from the iTunes store around the same time. Owners of Android devices will have to wait until 2013. If they can't wait until then, they should check out the excellent TV Catchup app from Google Play.

There's no connection details yet for the service, but I'm betting (hoping?) that CAT-5/6 cable is involved if the remote control functionality is to be responsive enough to use. The Virgin version of the TiVo iPad app had been previously delayed due to Virgin's desire to eliminate the need for extra cables within their customer's home networks (we can handle the extra cables, Virgin, really!).

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