Anytime, anywhere: Virgin’s new TV service

What we watch and how we watch it are ever changing. We’re just as likely to catch a quick snippet on YouTube as we are to tune into a prime time television show. And we might just as easily watch a movie on our tablet or smartphone as on the box.

So, it’s no surprise the industry’s big players are launching new services to move with the times. BskyB is already pushing its Sky Go service. The Sky Go app enables users to watch on their iPhone, iPad or certain Android smartphones.

And now Sky’s rival, Sir Richard Branson-owned Virgin, is getting in on the act.

London-headquartered Virgin Media has launched an internet TV service that streams programmes to your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Called TV Anywhere, the service is available to Virgin’s UK customers. But they will need to rent a Tivo set-top box first and upgrade if they only have a basic package.

Virgin will be hoping for the rapid success enjoyed by Sky Go which has already proved particularly popular with sports fans. The Ryder Cup provided the service’s biggest ever audience, with Sky quoting recent figures of 2.8m total users of Sky Go.

“The Sky evidence indicates that people really do use a service like this,” said James Barford from Enders Analysis, “so Virgin is doing it both to match or exceed the functionality of Sky but also as a defence against the YouView service, which offers catch-up programming but only via a television set.”

The Virgin service will allow subcribers complete access to their TiVo box along with the live streaming service. The app acts as a mobile version of your TiVo home screen, with in-time browsing. The app also comes with a social media sharing function so you can let friends and family know what you’re currently viewing or what you’re looking forward to watching.

But, while you can access your recordings on your box’s hard drive, you can’t yet view them on a mobile device. And  catch-up content is so-far limited to PCs.

Virgin Media has, however, promised improvements throughout 2013, with more channels available as live streams. While there are currently 45 channels available for streaming, only 25 are available for watching on an iOS device through the new app.

The program has been based on Tivo’s Buddy program, which was released 18 months ago in the US. While PCs access the facility online, there is an app for iPhones and iPads. Virgin also plans to release the Android version in 2013 after making sure it works properly across the platform’s range of devices. The company is also planning to release an app for Windows Phone 8 but has not yet given a timescale.

Cindy Rose, executive director of digital entertainment at Virgin Media, said: “The world of digital entertainment is moving so fast, consumers are always looking for the next ‘big thing’ to take advantage of the features and connectivity built into today’s gadgets. Virgin TV Anywhere builds upon our fantastic TV service, blending in the best of TiVo and our expertise in broadband and mobile, to bring customers a compelling entertainment experience to enjoy whenever they want, wherever they are – all at no extra cost.”

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