Virgin Media review
|Review: January 2013|
Last updated December 2016
In a nutshell: Virgin Media delivers live TV and catch-up TV via fibre optic cable. It's a match for Sky, but it isn't as easy to use and isn't available everywhere.
Virgin Media setup & requirements
"No dish required" is one of Virgin Media's slogans, suggesting that they might feel just a tiny little bit defensive about their arch rival Sky.
Instead of a satellite dish, Virgin TV comes through a fibre optic cable, which is a benefit but also a restriction. It's a benefit, because it gives you the bonus of ultrafast broadband if you want it. But it's a restriction because Virgin's fibre optic cables don't reach every property in the UK, unlike Sky's satellite broadcasts. You can check availability in your postcode area on Virgin's website.
A choice of boxes
When you sign up with Virgin, you'll need to choose a box. The most basic box is the V HD box which gives you access to live TV and on demand TV. More advanced is the TiVo box, which also lets you pause, rewind and record on the hard disk drive. The TiVo box lets you record up to three channels simultaneously.
The TiVo box is available in a choice of sizes, up to a 1TB (1,000GB) size which can record 100 hours of HD content.
Virgin now also offers the V6 box which supports 4K UHD Netflix and YouTube. It also allows you to record up to 6 channels at once.
With Virgin TV you can access up to 175 channels, including 24 in HD. This isn't as many as Sky, but it does include some Sky channels, including Sky News, Sky Sports and Sky Movies.
The channels available depend on your monthly subscription package, so you'll need to spend some time deciding how much you want to spend, and what you're really going to watch.
In addition there are one-off pay per view events such as boxing and wrestling.
On demand TV
One thing that Virgin have got nailed is TV on demand. That's because they pipe everything through ultrafast fibre optic cables. You can access Virgin's pick of the last week's TV from BBC iPlayer, ITV Net Player, 4oD and Demand 5 just as easily as live TV.
As well as catch up TV, Virgin have a growing library of classic movies and series available for you to watch whenever you want.
You have to be careful when you choose your subscription package however, as this determines what's available here. Some content costs extra.
Virgin TV Anywhere
Virgin's new app lets you watch live or catch up TV on your PC, Mac, laptop, iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. You can also use the app to manage your TiVo box remotely. The app is free to use for all Virgin customers.
Broadband & phone
Virgin Media is also a provider of home broadband and phone services, and you can choose to bundle these into your package if you want.
Conclusion - good, but so complicated!
Virgin are doing a lot right, but they always seem to be playing catch up with Sky. While delivery of content over ultrafast fibre optic cable offers advantages, especially for catch-up TV, for normal TV viewing Sky's satellite broadcast is equally as good.
Virgin's service is very comprehensive, thanks to its On Demand service and the ability to add Sky's content to your package! And the new Virgin TV Anywhere app is a nice touch, although it's not as good as Sky's app and Sky got there first.
What frustrates us most about Virgin is the complexity. There's the complexity of choosing which package to subscribe to, with a myriad of options, charges and restrictions. There's the complexity of choosing which set-top box/PVR to get. But most of all there's the day-to-day battle with the TiVo box itself, with menus that defy comprehension.
And if you really want to risk your sanity, try calling Virgin's support number with a technical or billing problem.
Virgin Media features include:
- Uses fibre optic cable and dedicated Virgin box
- Choice of subscription channels, including Sky content
- Built-in hard disk recorder with TiVo, pause & rewind live TV
- On demand services
- Multiroom option
- Remote access via smartphone or tablet
- Virgin TV Anywhere lets you watch on a tablet or compatible device
Sorry - questions and comments on this page are now closed.
To get tv on demand will the box have to be connected to the internet?
on 18th Apr 2016
Can I access the God channels including Believe TV ?
Asked by Mrs Simpson
on 10th Apr 2016
I regularly watch believe TV on Sky and would like to be able to do likewise if was change from Sky to Virgin.
Reply by Ben
on 29th Jun 2018
Yes, those channels are available on Virgin TV.
Virgin Media user reviews
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