Virgin/Freeview tie-up

Discussion in 'TiVo Series 1 - UK' started by Krautrocker, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. Jan 8, 2010 #1 of 28
    Krautrocker

    Krautrocker New Member

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    I've asked this question in other threads here and on the AV Forum but without so far any response.

    Question is this - are Virgin committed to delivery of services by cable exclusively? Or put another way, are their expansion plans dependent entirely on installation of new cables? I was sure I'd read somewhere that someone somewhere was looking at the possibility of delivery of cable services by phone line. Does this ring any bells with anyone?

    Also, why would Tivo restrict themselves to a cable company when surely far more people use Freeview, for example, than would use cable? Is it because so many Freeview boxes do most of what Tivo did anyway at no extra cost?

    Sorry I realise I'm sort of answering my own question to some extent but maybe the problem for Tivo is how to leverage a service which is no longer unique?

    What I'm saying here is since there's no likelihood of my street being cabled, does this mean I can't expect ever to take advantage of a new Tivo, given the exclusivity of the deal with Virgin?:(
     
  2. Jan 8, 2010 #2 of 28
    mrtickle

    mrtickle Active Member

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    It doesn't look good, but never say never. As for "a service which is no longer unique" - which other PVR offers Wishlists and Suggestions?
     
  3. Jan 8, 2010 #3 of 28
    cwaring

    cwaring VM Tivo User

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    Hi there! Well, let's see how you get on here :)

    Absolutely.

    Basically, there are two types of VM service; cable and national. The former is done via their exclusive mostly fibre-optic cable netword; the latter via standard ADSL.

    VM are indeed investing in, and changing to, such technologies as IPTV which, of course, works over both cable or ADSL.

    You'd have to ask VM that, but as I said, there is no reason why a Tivo won't work with IPTV so they could very-well launch a national product at some point.

    The Tivo service was unique when it launched in the UK in 2000 and is still unique today.

    Other PVRs are available but non have the complete capabilities (and I mean built-in and not available as un-offical bolt-ons!) of Tivo; plus there's the unique Tivo User Interface which I don't think has been bettered yet :)

    Not yet but by no means not ever.

    Note: All of the above is my own opinon and from my own knowledge. I don't have any "insider info" or anything that isn't in the public domain.
     
  4. Jan 9, 2010 #4 of 28
    iankb

    iankb New Member

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    Suggestions are certainly unique to TiVo, but Wishlists aren't.

    MCE does Wishlists.
     
  5. Jan 9, 2010 #5 of 28
    Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    @iankb

    And what significant improvements (if any) have there been in MCE and its capabilities under Windows 7?

    Also can we assume that running a Sky card in a Dragon CAM with Windows MCE will be killed for the time being once only the new white Sky cards can decrypt any encrypted Sky channels?

    @Krautrocker

    Tivo's financial model doesn't work with a non subscription product like Freeview since there is no income source to pay its royalty fees for the software or the ongoing monthly fees to Tribune for the enhanced metadata in Tivo's EPG.
     
  6. Jan 9, 2010 #6 of 28
    iankb

    iankb New Member

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    I'm not sure that there has been much in the way of functional change since Vista MCE with the TV Pack. A lot of it is just cosmetic.

    The ability to record from multiple TV platforms with a single EPG is the most significant change. That and the ability to record HD.

    A lot of concepts such as wishlists have been there before, but are hidden away on less obvious menus.

    While I can understand that people find MCE a lot less intuitive than a TiVo, a lot of that is due to its more complex functionality relating to recording both from multiple tuners, from mixed TV platforms, and from HD and SD sources. For instance, conflict resolution can switch scheduled recordings for a series or wishlist between terrestrial tuners and satellite tuners, between base channels and plus-one channels, between SD channels and HD channels, as well as between multiple showings during the week. Not only are series passes prioritised, but each series or wishlist can optionally specify for instance, any channel or a specific channel, a prioritisation for HD or SD, a time of day window, etc.

    While I'm sure that TiVo Inc could give MCE a good workover to simplify the UI, I'm sure that a multiple-tuner/multiple-platform version of the TiVo would not be as simple to use (or understand) as the Series 1 is.

    The TiVo has a very structured menu system that means that you can only work within one part of it at a time. That makes it very simple to use for the rest of the family, but isn't as powerful as MCE.

    MCE is more context-oriented in that it allows you to work within one area (e.g. the EPG Guide to schedule a recording), use a remote button to step out into another part to lookup something (e.g. the list of recordings to see if you have already recorded it), and step back (e.g. back to the EPG Guide) without losing your original context. It keeps a 'breadcrumb trail' to enable this, but it looks less intuitive to the onlooker.

    I've no idea. I gave two fingers to Sky some time ago, and have never considered going back. With two Freeview DVB-T tuners, a DVB-T2 Freeview HD tuner to be added when available, a DVB-S2 Freesat HD tuner, and terabytes of storage, I have far more recorded from the non-subscription channels than I could ever watch.
     
  7. Krautrocker

    Krautrocker New Member

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    Helpful as ever!

    Much obliged for your very detailed response

    :)
     
  8. sfalvey

    sfalvey Long time lurker

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    Greetings from Australia where we have TiVo on freeview and no TiVo subscription fee...... :D

    Admittedly the cost of a TiVo here is substantially higher than in the US for the same TiVoHD model but thats to support the bundled life-time sub that comes with all Aussie TiVos.

    I dont see why the same financial model wouldn't work in the UK.
     
  9. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    There are particular historic reasons why it makes sense in Australia for Seven network to support the product's distribution.

    See www.itwire.com/content/view/12525/1085/

    and

    www.cnet.com.au/freeview-versus-tivo-is-just-a-smoke-screen-339287989.htm


    Those reasons do not appear to be applicable in the UK.

    If our Office of Fair Trading stopped Sky and Virgin from giving people so called "free" PVRs that then have massive subscription tie ins and we had lower cost pay tv subscriptions but with everyone paying for the equipment they record their tv on up front then a Freeview Tivo might indeed work out. Sadly there is no sign of that happening any time soon in the UK.
     
  10. mikerr

    mikerr TiVoCentral.co.uk

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    Unlike with Sky, you never buy or own your equipment with Virgin cable, you just rent it all monthly.
    Hence they will replace any faulty box with no charge at any time.

    Are you really saying you would prefer OfCom to force huge upfront equipment costs? :eek:
     
  11. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    That is absolutely what I am saying.

    People could then make a logical choice between a 300 quid Sky or Virgin PVR with say ongoing £25 per month subscription to keep it running versus a £300 Freesat PVR at the same price with no ongoing subscription commitment.

    Also if Sky sells a customer a box that can also record FTA/FTV satellite channels as well as its own encrypted ones for its full true market price then it should be made completely illegal for them to artificially nobble the software to prevent people recording the FTA/FTV channels without continuing to pay Sky a monthly subscription.

    Many people only agree to be locked in to paying £400+ in subscriptions because of Sky distorting their choices about the real up front cost of the equipment by pitching it as being free at the point of acquisition/installation when in reality you have to sign up for a massively expensive subscription contract and the recorder won't go on working unless you keep on paying subs to Sky.

    As to nice old Virgin maintaining your equipment for free the big downside is that if you ever desubscribe there is no FTA version of the service and they take away the equipment. At least Sky has an FTA option for customers who don't need to record programs directly on to the box.
     
  12. mikerr

    mikerr TiVoCentral.co.uk

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    Despite the maths, in reality £20 a month is vastly different, and much more affordable to most than a single £400 outlay.
     
  13. Sneals2000

    Sneals2000 New Member

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    To be fair - the multiple platforms in one EPG arrived with Vista TV Pack rather than Windows 7 didn't it? (Though TV Pack was a strange development - aimed at OEMS-only, released only a short while before Windows 7, and with MS turning a blind-eye to existing Vista users bolting it on!)

    And the HD record/replay issue was more accurately H264 compatibility (which is used for SD record/replay in other countries).

    MPEG2 HD territories (Aus, Japan, US/Canada/Korea/Mexico etc.) have been able to record/replay HD in pre-Win 7 versions (though Japan only got their facilities in TV Pack) ISTR that Win XP MCE 2005 included US HD support!

    Win 7 (and TV Pack with the H264 hack) added H264 compatibility - which was required for HD in the UK (and most of Europe), but this also brought SD digital TV for regions like Norway, Ireland, NZ, Slovenia, Brazil etc. who use H264 for both SD and HD broadcasts.

    The major improvements in Win 7/Vista TV Pack for me are the addition of things like proper subtitles (WST and DVB), multiple audio (useful for non-UK DVB-S stuff), MHEG5 (Press Red) on Freeview.

    I think the quality of the guide listings has also improved with Win 7 (they appear to have a lot more Metadata)

    Yep - it takes some getting used to the 7MC way of doing things - and it isn't Tivo - but it is the next best thing I've found - and HD support makes up for a lot.

    With some 3rd party additions it is also possible to create a multi-national set-up (so you can watch and record satellite services from both the UK and oversees in a single install) and it is now possible to stream Live TV between MC PC installs for the first time.

    Yep - the options for HD vs SD, using +1 channels and DVB-T/DVB-S tuners in a sensible manner is a great addition.

    Yep - I suspect it isn't for nothing that current Tivos are close to being single platform (the US has OTA and Cable-card support - but uses the same tuners for both, and they are very similar platforms) For a large chunk of people - most people - this will be enough I guess.

    In the UK they didn't get Sky's PVR - so I guess Virgin Media is the next-best - as they aren't going to persuade people to buy Tivo on DVB-T when Freeview+ (soon Freeview+ HD) are always going to be cheaper and pretty good. (In Aus they didn't have an open, cross-mux, 7 day EPG with full EIT and Metadata AIUI - so there was scope for Tivo to offer a major improvement?)

    Yep - the MC model is a bit more "computer", the Tivo model is a bit more "consumer electronics".

    MC has a slightly steeper learning curve - and is a bit less intuitive if you're not a PC user, but the reverse is probably also true.

    Yep - it will be interesting to see how long Sky's revised encryption system lasts before 3rd party CAMs start working again when they switch to the new system. My understanding is that it isn't specifically 3rd party CAMs that worry them specifically, but other aspects of using a valid card...

    However I'm with you - the only thing that annoys me is that C4HD and E4HD are encrypted FTV on DSat. (E4 is FTV rather than Pay-TV in HD isn't it - i.e. a Sky FTV card is all that is required, no subscription?)
     
  14. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Actually it seems to be £40 or so per month subs for Sky HD versus an outlay of around £300 for an installed Freesat system (since some Freesat HD boxes now only cost £200).

    So you are really telling me that when over 50% of the poulation own a home and do massively expensive kitchen and other improvements costing thousands of pounds that people still can't manage to accumulate £300 in savings for a one off install? Surely you forget that most of them have credit cards where they can pay back the lump sum payment money monthly, which comes to the same thing as Sky pretending something is free and then locking people in for massive monthly subscriptions.
     
  15. iankb

    iankb New Member

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    That is annoying.

    Does anyone know whether they are just waiting for an existing contract with Sky to expire, or whether they are likely to continue with Sky for economic reasons ?
     
  16. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    Surely the actual reason that Channel 4 HD is being broadcast FTV and not FTA is because there is insufficient spare capacity on Astra 2D to be able to handle another HD signal consuming a large amount of already highly exhausted bandwidth for FTA channels with rights to broadcast their programs to the UK only that don't want to have encrypt their signal. This is precisely the same reason why Fiver and Five USA are still FTV in all regions of the UK on satellite along with Dave, Virgin1 etc (FTA on Freeview).

    However for so long as C4 HD remains FTV on satellite this does effectively mean that BBC/ITV Freesat is dead in the water and only the launch of Freeview HD (later this year?) is likely to see any serious expansion in the penetration of non subscription based HD viewing.
     
  17. JudyB

    JudyB New Member

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    I'm not sure how you get to £40. I make it a minimum of £28, although £20 might be possible.
    Assuming you don't want to pay Sky extra for movies or sport this is how I think it adds up:

    • * 1 Sky Entertainment Pack: £18
      * Sky HD £10
    You might be able to end up paying less (perhaps £20) if Sky do the same deal as with Sky+ - where the recording functionality is free if you are a subscriber, or £10 per month if not. However I don't know if they do that for SkyHD.

    Obviously if you add more entertainment packs or Sky multi-room then it costs more, but to match Freesat you only need the most basic subscription.
    (I'm assuming here that Startup costs are a separate issue).

    For now we are sticking with Sky+ controlled by Tivo (with extra Sky+ recordings when we need the second tuner) plus an extra satellite feed for our TV with built-in Freesat HD. This can be confusing at times, but it gives us reasonable coverage for now...
     
  18. Sneals2000

    Sneals2000 New Member

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    AIUI that is PART of the reason - as FTA broadcast on 2A/B is a problem for most content (the BBC put TV News and Radio on their non-2D space, and ITV have to encrypt the non-2D ITV1 regional feeds).

    However AIUI C4HD and E4HD are on space on DVB S2 Sky transponders I believe (C4HD certainly was), and I have a feeling that Sky are subsidising C4/E4 HD transmission and encryption costs in return for exclusivity on satellite?

    E4HD is going to be Sky HD only for a while I suspect - as Freeview HD only has C4 HD in addition to BBC HD and ITV1 HD.
     
  19. Sneals2000

    Sneals2000 New Member

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    And you can get FTA HD content for a lot less if you already have a Sky dish installed. It is possible to get HD FTA receivers (with USB recording facilities) for less than £150 - and some of them will also access the Freesat full EPG and use the same channel numbers, and get ITV HD, though no Press Red stuff.

    I think I paid £120 for my FortecStar Innovation for use with my existing Sky dish, and it records to a FAT32 USB hard drive with no major issues (though the recordings need a bit of processing on a PC to be useful outside the receiver).
     
  20. Pete77

    Pete77 New Member

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    If one just has an SD Freesat From Sky box that one also pays £0 per month to run I cannot possibly imagine why one would pay £28 per month to get the HD channels on just one Sky Mix plus C4HD (compared to BBC/ITV Freesat HD at £0 per month). If you pay £28 you may as well go on and pay the £38 or whatever it is to get access to all 6 Sky Mixes and Sky Sports and/or Sky Movies (although I think both Sky Sports and Sky Movies costs at least £45 per month).

    If you are content to restrict yourself to only BBC HD, C4HD and one Sky Mix then you are probably also content to restrict yourself to either just SD Freesat From Sky or just BBC/Ttv Freesat HD.

    The whole Sky subscription model is designed to make the base package such bad value that most people will say I may as well take all the Mixes plus Sports and/or the Movies.

    Sky Mixes are incredibly bad value. For instance Eurosport is one of their few channels in their Mixes with new programs not previously available on FTA television and they charge just £3.50 per month for their Player to live stream Eurosport 1 and 2 or stream recordings of recent programs on to your PC. £3.50 per month vs £18 per month is a very extreme price difference for instance when I wanted to watch the recent Dakar Rally. And then with Sky I have to spend yet more on phone calls to beg and plead on the phone again to leave them on the same day I join to only do one month back on contract. With Eurosport Player I pay my £3.50 for one month online with no phone call and that is it. The month is then up and no further commitment arises. No begging to desubscribe via expensive 0844 phone calls.

    I think that those of you who assume that you must always subscribe to some Sky channels and don't consider the Freesat or Freeview options are really operating from a totally distorted economic model in terms of the real cost of Sky HD vs Freesat HD.
     

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