UK TV services Part 5: Amazon PrimeSeptember 19, 2020
UK TV services Part 7: BT TVSeptember 19, 2020
Virgin Media TV
Virgin Media is the other big pay-TV provider in the UK using cable instead of satellite, which has the advantage of avoiding any possibility of weather disturbances, but reduces availability to only those properties that are connected to Virgin’s underground network.
Virgin takes a different approach to Sky, acting as an aggregator of everyone else’s content and its V6 set top box acting more like a smart TV. That means you can get practically every channel, bar Sky Atlantic, on Virgin and often in oddly named “Oomph” bundles that are cheaper than those from competitors.
It has a unified search for all content across multiple services and a series of powerful recording options for shows, even spanning multiple channels. It also has practically every streaming TV app (apart from Now TV), including all the UK catchup services and BBC Sounds, and the Virgin movie and TV rental store. The V6 box is capable of 4K and HDR, but other than BT Sport Ultimate and Virgin’s own UHD channel, it lacks any other 4K broadcasts and is very short on 4K on-demand content, instead relying on streams from Netflix, Amazon and others.
Monthly: from £33 to £178.49
Minimum contract: 18 months
Connection: cable, broadband
While fast, the interface is dated and you cannot change the order of channels in the electronic programming guide (EPG), which makes it unwieldy and frustrating to use compared with Sky Q. Catchup and on-demand content is mainly streamed by the individual apps too, which means jumping into and out of BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, etc, which can be a bit slow and awkward. Not all catchup content is in HD either, while streaming is reliant on your broadband, not the cable connection into the back of the box, which means if your router isn’t near your TV you might have problems.Virgin’s TV Go app streams live TV over the internet, and downloads for offline, but doesn’t access recordings on your V6 box, and the quality even over a fast connection can be hit and miss. You also can’t buy TV without broadband, and many of the larger TV packages can only be bought in bundles which include broadband, phone and mobile phone (triple- or quad-play). Virgin has also had a few outages over the last several months, which has caused some of the services to go offline for short periods of time.