BBC iPlayer has launched on Virgin TV

The catchup service from the BBC – iPlayer – has ‘soft launched’ on Virgin TV. The service can be accessed by pressing the red button on any BBC TV channel. BBC iPlayer on Virgin TV works in a similar way to the online service at bbc.co.uk, but streams programmes off servers – like Catch Up TV and TV Choice On Demand – instead of downloading it to the box via a broadband connection.

The existing BBC section of Catch Up TV (in the On Demand menus of Virgin TV) remain in place at the moment, as this is just a ‘soft launch’ of the iPlayer, to make sure everything works as it should before it’s fully unleashed into the Virgin TV On Demand menus some time this summer. There’s a useful ‘Search’ function available on the iPlayer service, which makes finding programmes much easier.

At the moment, only TV programmes are available on the new iPlayer service on Virgin TV, but this should expand to radio programmes and high definition programmes in due course.

Click here to read more about the service.

(Pictures are from www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet)

Five Life rebranded as Fiver

Five Life has now been rebranded as Fiver on the Freeview and Virgin Media EPGs. Freeview viewers will need to rescan their box if it doesn’t pick up the new channel name automatically. Virgin Media customers may need to restart their set top box for the channel name to change.

BBC News 24 rebranded as BBC News

BBC News 24 has dropped the ’24’ from its channel name as part of the overhaul of BBC News services. Freeview viewers will need to rescan their boxes to pick up the new channel name. Virgin Media customers should automatically see the new channel name on their boxes, but a set top box reboot may be required.

BBC iPlayer confirmed for May launch on Virgin TV

BBC iPlayer will now be launching in May according to an official page on the Virgin Media website. It says “from May you can tune to any BBC TV channel and press the red button on your Virgin Media remote to watch the best BBC programmes from the last 7 days” and we’ll be able to “choose from over 250 hours of BBC TV, selected and saved from the last 7 days”. To begin with, it says the service will be available via the red button from any BBC channel, and it will be added to Catch Up TV On Demand “soon after it launches through the red button”. There will be a lot more content available – Virgin Media say “there’s about 50 hours of BBC shows in Catch Up TV on demand right now. When iPlayer launches in Catch Up TV on demand the BBC folder will be renamed BBC iPlayer and instead of having 50 hours of BBC shows to watch there will be over 250 hours”. Read more on the official Virgin Media website.

Freeview HD plans revealed

Details of Freeview’s high definition plans were released last week. Ofcom have announced there will be four slots available – one of which will go to the BBC and the others will be bidded on between ITV, Channel 4, S4C and Five. Because the high definition channels will be broadcast in MPEG-4 instead of MPEG-2, this will mean special high definition Freeview boxes will be needed in order to watch these channels. It is hoped high definition on Freeview will get underway as early as 2009. BBC HD trials were previously run in special test areas – namely the London area – on Freeview. If you want to read some more details on the Freeview HD plans revealed last week, please click here for a Digital Spy article.