Virgin Media in the United Kingdom has lifted the lid on its latest box, and accompanying Mini box, which offer seamless ultra-high-definition viewing around the home. Powered by the Horizon platform developed in-house by parent company Liberty Global, it offers competition to the Sky Q box. It will be available to new customers as standard, or as a free upgrade to those on its ultimate bundle.
“Virgin TV 360 is our most impressive TV service to date, providing one of the most complete and comprehensive viewing experiences available in the UK,” said David Bouchier, the chief television and entertainment officer at Virgin Media.
The Virgin TV 360 platform includes a new box and ancillary mini boxes, and a remote with voice control, offering an integrated, voice-activated and personalised service throughout the home. It integrates online services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, all with support for ultra-high-definition and high dynamic range. A ‘Startover’ feature allows viewers to skip back to the beginning of a programme even if it has already started. Customers can record up to six programmes while watching a seventh. Recordings can be viewed on all boxes to enable seamless multi-room viewing. A new version of the Virgin TV Go app also offers viewing to be carried over to mobile phones and tablets.
Families can create their own profiles, with their own favourite channels and personalised recommendations. With profiles, customers can pause a show and simply sign in to carry on watching on another device from where they left off.
In some respects, the Virgin offer beats the competing Sky Q experience. Notably it offers ultra-high-definition viewing on the Mini boxes, unlike Sky. Individual profiles are not yet available on Sky Q, although it does allow different lists of favourite channels on each box.
Although small and unobtrusive, the boxes are functional in appearance. They will be offered as standard to new customers, and as a free upgrade to those who take its Ultimate Oomph package.
Virgin Media has 3.53 million television customers in the United Kingdom. Around 70% of them have its V6 generation box. The cable company lost 63,800 television subscribers in the third quarter of 2020. It was its eighth consecutive quarterly loss, having lost over 375,000 television customers since the end of 2018.