Tech Talk: Catch-up kid fights Sky on mobile catch-up


The launch of TV Anywhere signals another one of Virgin Media’s catch-up campaigns.


By Jordan O’Brien

If you use a premium television service provider in the UK, there’s no doubt that it’s most likely going to be either Sky or Virgin Media.

Both companies do much more than TV, of course, with offerings of Broadband, Home Phone and in Virgin Media’s case, even mobile phones.

Sky has long been the leader of television services in the UK, with a lion’s share of the market at 56.2%, well above Virgin’s 28.6% and Freesat’s 15.2%.

Virgin Media hasn’t been standing still though, with a major marketing push which has resulted in 25 of their ads being banned.

While they may be facing a beating in TV, they’re making in-roads elsewhere, becoming the UK’s second largest broadband provider, ahead of TalkTalk and Sky.

Virgin Media seem to always be playing catch-up, forced to remain second best.

That doesn’t mean they’re not trying to attract customers though, giving customers more and more reasons to join the company.

They announced the doubling of all broadband speeds earlier this year, and have now launched a new service for its TV customers, TV Anywhere.

The launch of TV anywhere signals another one of Virgin Media’s catch-up campaigns.

Sky have actively invested in mobile catchup for some time with Sky Go, but it’s now time for Virgin Media to get in on the game.

With TV Anywhere Virgin Media is offering live streaming of subscription channels and on-demand content from various providers.

That sounds great, it’s a service being offered to Virgin TV subscribers for absolutely nothing and you can stream 25 live channels from desktops, laptops or even iOS devices – so that means your iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone are all compatible with TV Anywhere.

The problems with the service begin when looking at that number, 25.

Sky currently offers its customers 43 channels, which you can access absolutely anywhere, whether on your iOS device, laptop, desktop, Xbox or even an Android device.

That’s not all, Virgin Media could be forgiven for offering a 25 channels, if they were all of decent quality, but unless you’re really eager to watch a music channel or watch repeats of Doctor Who on GOLD, then there’s really not much being offered in TV Anywhere.

Two channels are listed as coming soon, that being Sky 1 and Sky Living, but it could be too late for customers whose contract may be up for renewal.

Virgin Media are keen to note that streaming will only be allowed via WiFi as 3G streaming will not be supported in the app, something Sky hasn’t place restrictions on.

You could forgive Virgin Media for its lack of 3G support or the lacklustre number of channels available for live streaming if they had great on-demand content on-tap.

Unfortunately, they fall short here too not enabling support for on-demand content until 2013 and then only offering certain channels, where there is seemingly an overabundance of kids TV.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Virgin Media, they are catching-up to Sky, and they are going to support Android in 2013 but there’s just too many problems with TV Anywhere to choose it over Sky Go.

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.”

Unfortunately Virgin Media have failed to bring its customers the next ‘big thing’ instead opting for a stop gap to ensure at least some customers aren’t tempted to leave for Sky.

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