Virgin Media O2, for that is what we must now call the merged cable and mobile communications company, has launched a new Stream service that delivers online video through a box that plugs into a television, supposedly to make it smarter, giving it voice search and control. The Stream service is offered without long-term contracts, allowing customers to change their subscription any month. It offers a range of traditional channels and includes apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and YouTube, as well as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, Sky Sports and BT Sport.

Traditional channels include those from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 4, in high definition. These are all delivered online, so there is no need for a cable, satellite, or terrestrial television connection.

Sky Cinema and Sports channels are available in high definition for an additional monthly subscription, as are BT Sport channels. There is also an essential entertainment pack with channels like MTV and Discovery. It looks remarkably like cable television, albeit in a much smaller box.

“At a time of endless entertainment choice and a strain on household budgets, we’re putting viewers first,” David Bouchier, the chief television and entertainment officer at Virgin Media O2 generously suggested. “It is a truly flexible and personal way to enjoy the entertainment that matters most, at great value.”

Virgin Media O2

At launch, Stream is available to both new and existing customers who take a Virgin Media broadband only or a broadband and home phone package.

Customers can add Stream for a one-off activation fee of £35, with no ongoing cost beyond the streaming services to which they subscribe. Stream also includes “Stream credit” offering customers a 10% saving on their subscriptions when they add them via their Virgin Media bill.

Virgin Media O2 Stream box

The box is 4K capable, with support for Dolby digital and Dolby Atmos. It is powered through a Micro-USB connected and has an HDMI output. It is powered by RDK software and has the Horizon 4 user interface.