Virgin Media readies web-connected TiVo service

Virgin Media has launched its next-generation, web-enabled TiVo service, uniting video-on-demand, TV and the web via a set-top box.


The service will bring web apps to the Virgin Media TV screen, ahead of those planned for rival service YouView, which launches next year. Virgin Media is not a YouView partner.

It will be backed by a multi-million pound integrated marketing campaign to support the launch in the New Year.

Major brands including the BBC iPlayer, Ebay and social networks Twitter and Facebook, are among the first to have apps on the platform, which also integrates with YouTube. The apps, built using an Adobe Flash-based platform, will update automatically, like that of an iPhone.

The TiVo service is based on a recommendations system, meaning users will be served programmes based on their own viewing history as well as that of other TiVo viewers. The aim is to make the TV viewing experience more personalised, in turn providing better ad targeting capabilities.

Alex Green, Virgin Media’s executive director of commercial TV and online, says with so much content available the search process is paramount.

“This next generation TiVo service brings the power of the web to the TV experience and the search process,” he adds.

“It incorporates targeted VOD advertising, so ads can be linked to relevant shows that are being watched,” he said, adding that the apps will provide a “showcase area” for major brands.

The service will roll out in the next few weeks. The set top boxes cost £199, plus £26.50 per month for subscribers to the (top tier) XL Tivo package. It will soon extend to mobile and its online player, launched this summer.

“We’ll launch the ability to remote record, which will let users set the service to record shows via their mobile phones,” says Green.

The service features a predictive search tool, and viewers can also search by specific show titles, genres and actors, and view additional information about the actors and directors, cast and production.

Viewers can rate shows via a ’thumbs up/down’ button. It will then prioritise and automatically record shows that viewers likes, and store them in a folder to be watched later.

Users can create a Wish List of favourite shows, actors, or genres. The service will then automatically record any content that relates to what the user has searched for.

The EPG is designed to let you scroll backwards by up to seven days, to watch catch-up TV content from the iPlayer, Channels 4 and Five, and ITV.

The new set-top box has one terabyte of storage, allowing for up to 500 hours of standard definition programming, and access to 4,600 hours of on-demand TV shows, movies and music.

Content will be available in standard and high definition and in 3D.

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