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Virgin Media will launch a new set-top box as it looks to compete with the recently-introduced Sky Q.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Virgin Media intends to bring the new device to market at the start of 2017, but it may try to make it available in time for the Christmas period. 

Ultra high-definition video and the ability to pause and resume viewing on different devices are two of Sky Q's key selling points, and it is likely Virgin Media will look to bring these features to its own forthcoming set top box.

Sky Q launched in February with Fluid Viewing, a new feature that Sky claims it is "most advanced TV experience ever". It allows viewers to pause viewing a programme on one device - for example the living room television - and pick it up elsewhere, such as on a smartphone or tablet. 

The service also allows customers to take their television show recordings with them using a service called Q Sync, which copies content to a tablet for viewing on the go.

Ultra-high definition - or 4K - video is another selling point of Sky Q and something Virgin Media will likely also provide with its own service. However, Sky Q is not currently broadcasting in 4K, with Sky promising the service will launch at some point in 2016. 

Sky's 4K service will also be limited to its high-end Sky Q box, known as Sky Q Silver. In addition to 4K capability, the Silver box offers double the storage space - 2TB - of the standard model, and allows customers to simultaneously record more channels and stream to more tablets. 

It remains to be seen whether Virgin Media will adopt Sky's two-tier approach in offering a standard and premium set-top box, or bundle all the features into one device.

Virgin Media is not the only company that will look to offer competition to Sky as television providers seek to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video. BT is reportedly looking at taking full control of YouView, the joint venture it shares with TalkTalk.

Having outright ownership of YouView would enable BT to make bigger strides in the pay-TV market, as it would be able to introduce new features without the cost considerations associated with a joint venture.


The Telegraph

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