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Date Added: 2012-09-10 13:48:56
Main Category: Catchup TV Networks
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Visit: Virgin Media Player
Virgin Media Player is owned by: Liberty Global
Other Liberty Global Websites: Virgin Media TV listings, Virgin Media, Virgin TV Anywhere
Other Liberty Global apps: Virgin Media TV Guide, Virgin TV Anywhere
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Virgin Media Player Is available in: UK
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Review: Virgin Media Player
In this review
Quick Verdict - WorldTVPC Rating: (2.0)
Notwithstanding the fact that both Virgin's catch-up service and streaming speed on your PC or Ti-Vo box is relatively swift, it is nonetheless disappointing. Its pitfalls far outweigh its few advantages. It's exclusivity, extortionate 'pass' structure, lack of Wi-Fi compatibility all culminate in the application and service itself being less than average.
For those of you who are unaware, Virgin Media Player is an online catch-up service exclusively for Virgin Media XL (extra-large) TV and broadband subscribers. Thus, you can watch TV programmes and movies on-demand or - indeed - catch up on your favourite shows from its virtual source of content. Like Sky's Sky Go application, the media player offers a comprehensive library from which to choose from.
Furthermore, if you have a hand-held device you can also watch various shows and films using the Virgin Media application. However, there is a limitation as to how much viewing time you are entitled to the bill-payer must be subscribed to the Virgin Media XL TV and Broadband package.
With the huge number of web and mobile streaming services perpetually improving, such as Sky Go and BT Vision, is the Virgin Media Player on par with them or does it, in fact, offer a service that is markedly below the quantity - in terms of content offered - and quality of its market competitors.
Up to 100mb fiber optic speeds make streaming more enjoyable.
One indisputable advantage Virgin can flaunt over other broadcasters is its rapid broadband. Its fiber optic broadband - which boasts an extremely impressive 100 megabyte download speed - actually means that streaming your preferred TV programmes via your Wi-Fi seldom buffers. Indeed, if you contrast this with Sky Go where very often the stream tends to buffers. In this sense, if someone else is watching videos in another room, Virgin has the capability to carry out unimpeded whilst if you were on Sky, it is highly likely that it would buffer and potentially stop! I believe the media player is best on the TiVO set-top box whilst relatively decent when streaming on your laptop.
The catch-up service is certainly one of the best around. Its large amount of content - on the level with that of Sky Go's - also means that you will be spoilt for choice. Moreover, the catch-up service in its on-demand service, gives you the opportunity to watch TV shows from an array of other television channels not presently showing through that service for up to seven days after being aired. A bizarre feature - since you're not watching it from the Virgin Media Player but being redirected to another site which is playing it.
Exclusive for XL subscribers paying $50 (£30) a month
Although there is a large amount of content available, its only viewable if you have subscribed to Virgin Media’s XL TV and broadband package costing a sizeable £30 ($50) a month. Thus, if you are a normal subscriber, you are - in effect - completely excluded from this service. Unlike Sky Go, which tailors what you can watch in accordance with your package, Virgin completely deprives you of it altogether! Many would perceive this as Virgin extorting its customers at a time where individuals increasingly wish to watch their TV at a time convenient to them - an argument I would have to concur with.
For those who do not subscribe to the XL package, you are able to go on a 'pay-as-you-go' contract of sorts. However, the prices are unreasonably high and nine out of ten people would most probably go against using it. A “pass” for 15 minutes of costs you 60p; 30 minutes is £1.45 minutes is £1.50; and if you’d like an hour streaming time it cost £1.75. Also, you cannot stockpile your passes as they must be used within a twenty-four hour period.
No Wi-Fi option
Unlike the recently reviewed BBC iPlayer App 2.0, Virgin’s application for when you are on the move is disappointing. It is presently available on two platforms - Android and iOS - and only through a 3G connection only, meaning that there is no Wi-Fi option available. This is an enormous drawback given its competitors are developing or have developed this feature. It's not ideal for the consumer too since if he or she exceeds their stipulated internet usage, it could lead to an unsightly bill at the end of the month.
Dire on-the-go streaming
Naturally, a lack of Wi-Fi negates the positive effect of Virgin's 100 mega-byte fiber optic broadband speed. The application is therefore reliant on whatever 3G connection speed it can muster - most of the time of which is average. Having tried this on the train, I have to say I was unimpressed. During a thirty-minute stream, it buffered nine times and stopped twice - to the point where I had to close and reopen the application.
Notwithstanding the fact that both Virgin's catch-up service and streaming speed on your PC or Ti-Vo box is relatively swift, it is nonetheless disappointing. Its pitfalls far outweigh its few advantages. It's exclusivity, extortionate 'pass' structure, lack of Wi-Fi compatibility all culminate in the application and service itself being less than average. By charging £30 a month for the package which allows you to access the service, one would expect it to be something special. Instead, it is slow and pretty mediocre. For it to appease its critics, it has to have Wi-Fi, a fundamental to making a good application and the passes for non-XL customers need to be more reasonably priced for them to ever compete with other streaming services like Sky Go.
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