Virgin Media Reveals Leap in TV Viewing

Cable TV operator Virgin Media has revealed how the Covid-19 lockdown has changed viewing habits in the UK.

Amongst the statistics revealed are a 10% increase in customers watching TV, compared to pre-lockdown, with customers watching TV for an average of 41 extra minutes per day.

28th March, a Saturday, was the busiest data for customers tuning into TV channels, with 17% growth, compared to the eight previous Saturdays. For apps, this figure was an even higher 42%.

News, music, and radio channels all saw an increase in demand. Each customer spent an extra 25 minutes watching the news, on average. With schools closed, children’s channels also saw increases in demand.

Disney to Close Channels

Children’s channels Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD are to close in the UK. Unsurprisingly, this is part of the moving of content to Disney’s subscription streaming service Disney Plus, which will become the exclusive home for all of the content.

The move will take effect on October 1st, and will affect Sky and Virgin Media subscribers who currently subscribe to packages which include the channels.

Disney Plus launched in March this year, and costs £5.99 a month. Sky subscribers can access the service through the app on Sky Q.

The change is specific to the UK, although similar moves may made in other countries. Other Disney owned channels including National Geographic are not affected by the change.

Sony Crime Channel to Close

Sony Crime ChanelThe Sony Crime Channel is to close on during the early hours of 10th June 2020, on its remaining platforms Sky (satellite) and Virgin Media (cable), as Sony focuses on its remaining movie and entertainment channels.

Although launching with a large amount of publicity, the channel had struggled to compete with its rivals, and has been downgraded. The channel had already lost its national Freeview (terrestrial) slot.

Sony Crime Channel launched in February 2018, and has lasted just over two years on the air.

More Channel Closures

AMC will become high definition (HD) only from Thursday, when the standard definition version of the channel on the Sky satellite platform will come to an end. A small number of viewers with non HD equipment will loose access to the channel. The HD version remains unchanged. Asian music service MTV Beats will also leave the Sky platform in the next week.

Over on the Virgin Media cable platform, standard definition versions of TLC, Quest, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Eurosport 1, and Eurosport 2  have been removed. Where the HD version of the channel was on a lower number, the channel has been promoted to the higher number. Some of the HD channels were on a higher subscription package, but these have been moved down to the former standard definition channels subscription tiers, so no viewers will lose access to the channels.

As all Virgin Media boxes in use are HD compatible, the standard definition versions of the channels were effectively redundant. No viewers will be impacted by the change.

Meanwhile, Your TV has closed on all platforms. The channel was free-to-air, and was acquired by Disney with the Fox business. Disney currently operated no free-to-air channels in the UK.

More HD Conversions and Channel Closures

AMC will become high definition (HD) only from Thursday, when the standard definition version of the channel on the Sky satellite platform will come to an end. A small number of viewers with non HD equipment will loose access to the channel. The HD version remains unchanged. Asian music service MTV Beats will also leave the Sky platform in the next week.

Over on the Virgin Media cable platform, standard definition versions of TLC, Quest, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Eurosport 1, and Eurosport 2  have been removed. Where the HD version of the channel was on a lower number, the channel has been promoted to the higher number. Some of the HD channels were on a higher subscription package, but these have been moved down to the former standard definition channels subscription tiers, so no viewers will lose access to the channels.

As all Virgin Media boxes in use are HD compatible, the standard definition versions of the channels were effectively redundant. No viewers will be impacted by the change.

Meanwhile, Your TV has closed on all platforms. The channel was free-to-air, and was acquired by Disney with the Fox business. Disney currently operated no free-to-air channels in the UK.

Ireland: Virgin and Eir to Carry Each Others Sports Channels

In Ireland, Eir and Virgin Media have aggreed a deal which will see their sports channels become available on each others platforms.

Virgin Media Sport will become available to subscribers to of Eir’s sports pack. In return, Virgin Media subscribers will be able to view Eir’s sports channels in Ireland.

The new agreement will come into effect in time for the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on September 20.

Virgin Media Claims to be Cheapest for Premiere League

Virgin Media has claimed it is the cheapest way to watch Premier League, Champions League and Europa League matches all in one place. Virgin Media’s Bigger+Sports bundle is currently priced at £65 (for new members), and gives access to all Sky Sports channels in HD as well as BT Sport in HD and 4K.

According to Virgin Media average like for like monthly costs for its rivals are Sky £103.58, TalkTalk £95.66 and BT £86.68. All quoted prices including broadband and landline calls.

Virgin Media’s Bigger+Sports also provides access to Eurosport, Premier Sports, ESPN, and Freesports.

True Crime Closure and Other True Changes

True Crime will leave Sky (satellite) and Virgin Media (cable), at the end of programming on the 30th June. The channel was reinstated in February, replacing the UK version of the TruTV channel. True Crime is also available on Freeview in Manchester, but it is unclear whether this outlet will continue.

Meanwhile on Freeview, True Entertainment and True Movies and will be reducing their coverage area from midday tomorrow. A re-tune will be required for viewers remaining within the coverage area to be able to continue to receive these services. However, both will gain a more prominent channel number with True Entertainment moving from channel 61 to 48, and True Movies moving channel 62 to 50.

Movies4Men+1 and Sony Movies+1 currently occupy slots 48 and 50 on Freeview (respectively), and it is unclear what will happen to these channels. A move to numbers 61 and 62, would seem likely.

All of the channels mentioned above are owned by Sony Pictures Television.

Virgin Media Renews Sponsorship Agreement

Virgin Media will continue to sponsor Southampton Football Club, under a renewed sponsorship agreement.

The deal will run to the end of the 2021/22 season. Virgin Media will be the sleeve sponsor for the first, under 18, and under 23 squads. From the start of next season, Virgin Media will become the first ever shirt sponsor for the women’s team, with their logo appearing on the front of the shirts.

Virgin Media, who provide broadband, TV, and mobile services, first started to sponsor Southampton Football Club at the beginning of the 2016/17 season.