Virgin Media Rejuvenates Video Platform

Virgin Media, Liberty Global’s U.K.-based cable operator, unleashed a refreshed video platform Wednesday, led by a long-anticipated next-gen TiVo-powered device that supports 4K and High Dynamic Range.

Virgin Media, which has been dropping hints about the V6 for months amid heated competition coming way of Sky’s new video platform, said the new device features a revamped UI and cross-platform search feature while integrating OTT services from sources like Netflix, iPlayer and Vevo. It’s being paired with a new RF-based remote that does not require line-of-sight. The box also includes a remote-finder button that, when pressed, causes the remote to make a trackable beeping sound, and 1 terabyte  of storage – enough to hold 100 hours of HD recordings. The V6 can record six shows at the same time, or 12 if the customer links two of them together.

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Virgin Media is offering the V6, which carries an upfront cost of £99.95 and is compatible with the MSO’s legacy TiVo-based boxes, to existing subs on its “Mix” bundle or higher starting before the end of 2017, while new subs will be able to order it with their bundles starting in January.

Liberty Global said it plans to launch the V6 box, which can use non-TiVo interfaces like its Horizon UI, to other markets in Europe next year. The box was developed under Liberty Global’s EOS program, which has been billed as the “workhorse” of a newly unified video hardware platform.

In addition to a revamped TV Everywhere app, Virgin Media also launched a new ad-free kids app.

Virgin Media also trotted out the “TellyTablet,” a mobile HD device outfitted with 14-inch screen, four built-in speakers, 32 GB of memory, and two USB ports, that is optimized to run the operator’s own apps and any offered via the Google Play store. Subs can get their mitts on it next month by paying £299 upfront or spreading the cost over 24 months.

With a nod to the electronic sell-through model, the operator is also gearing up for the launch of the Virgin Media Store, a service that lets subs buy movies and TV shows, including some titles before they arrive on DVD. For film purchases, Virgin Media will also send the buyer a DVD copy. Virgin Media Store will launch in February 2016.