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Virgin Media launch online movies service
Tuesday 27 April 2010 11:15:40 by John Hunt

Virgin Media yesterday announced the launch of an online on-demand movie service powered by FilmFlex Movies, the same company behind their TV-based on-demand movie service. The online version offers hundreds of titles to watch by streaming to your computer. Films can be viewed an unlimited amount of times within a 48 hour period and you must be connected to the Internet to watch them.

"Virgin Media already offers the UK's leading movies on demand TV service and we wanted to bring the same high-quality, easy-to-use experience to film fans online. Virgin Media Online Movies will help visitors discover and enjoy a whole world of film and we'll continue to develop the service by adding download functionality, even more titles and a great choice of HD films to the line-up."

Alex Green, (Executive Director, Commercial, TV and Online) Virgin Media

Virgin recommend a 4Mbps broadband connection to be able to view films successfully, and users should remember that downloads from this service would count towards any usage limits you have on your broadband connection. You do not need to be a Virgin customer to sign up but you do need to be in the UK to watch content.


Posted by Fuzzlewoof over 7 years ago
Hummm if viewing the film uses your usage limits, and you need a 4 meg connection then even on Virgins 10 meg service you will hit the throttling cap within a few mins of using and have your speed reduced 75% to 2.5 meg which will be too slow for the service...
Posted by mobilebb over 7 years ago
The high quality movies actually run at 1.8Mbps. I think the 4Mbps is just so Virgin can account for variable speeds
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
This is whats great about current non-authetic methods, you can stream a copy from your main pc to (for example) your PDA for ~0.7Mbps, keeping 99% of the quality of the original DVD.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
1.8Mbps - so no HD then. I suppose if we assume they've 'hand compressed' the content then it'll be as good as your average SD TV channel.

OTOH if they've just let a computer get on with it the quality is probably not much better than VHS.

Might be a worth a look though depending on price.
Posted by nmg196 over 7 years ago
Is there any demo of the quality of the films? Or any free films?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Horrid quality (No where even near dvd quality bitrate), DRM infested adobe tripe, over priced rental service...... Ill pass.
Posted by chrysalis over 7 years ago
1.8meg/sec, my 20mbit VM cable connection cannot sustain that.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Sorry i meant its silverlight based rubbish. Owned by Disney and Sony apparantly, so no wonder its expenisive and poor quality :( When will this country get a decent non restrictive service like clicker and what looks like the closest thing to HD over the net movies yet...
Posted by SheepFarmer over 7 years ago
Was does everything seem to get written off as tripe by some people just because you can't rip off an download the film to keep.

DVDs are encoded in MPEG2, this is H264 which is far superior and doesn't require anywhere near the same bitrate. If you offer a service with a higher bitrate few people will be able to use it.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Its nothing to do with being able to rip off a download, why do some people always assume people want to do that? Its down to the actual content why i am not interested.
It isnt X264 its silverlight based, X264 content doesnt require a licence to play so they definately are not using that. The service uses DRM based time limited licencing.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Oh and even if it were X264... @1.8Mb that still wouldnt look brilliant, if you rip a dvd to X264 at that rate it loses quality, rip a film over 2 hours in length and you will definately notice macro blocking and other issues.

HD resolution it maybe, HD quality no damn way.
Posted by maffyoo over 7 years ago
read up on video, and on the service, rather than just knee jerking. h264 is a compression standard, DRM is an entirely separate concept that involves encrypting a video, for which a license is required, the video stream could still be h.264, if its silverlight, its probably VC-1 which is broadly equivalent, having looked around the site, it seems that these are high or standard quality, standard def. I bet you havent even watched one of the movies on there, in which case your comments just seem to be some biased assumption - why not go do something else? Does seem a bit expensive tho
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
My comments are based on an extensive knowledge of broadcasting standards and bitrates used. h264 is not miraculous - it has its limits.

1.8Mb/s is low. There's no refuting that. If there's a human guiding the encoding frame by frame then I'm offering the benefit of the doubt and suggesting it might result in SD content being perceptually as good as a DVD to most people.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
..but no way can HD at that bitrate by true HD. It might possibly by the quality of iPlayer's 'HD' stream if hand encoded but iPlayer's 'HD' is not true HD.

The only people that think iPlayer 'HD' doesn't need the quotation marks are those that haven't seen broadcast HD.
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
It might suit the masses (most of whom in my experience can't tell the difference between HD and SD anyway) but those of us who can tell the difference are unlikely IMO to want to pay to watch a 1.8Mb/s stream. Not unless you're talking 50p a film anyway.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
LOL they just dont get it AndrueC. HD resolution it maybe, HD quality no damn way. A bluray can clock in at 40Mbps HDTV can clock in at over 18Mbps.
Oh and for maffyoo and SheepFarmer... X264 (which sheepfarmer mentions) is not the same as H264 (which maffyoo mentions) H264 is a codec that can be used inside of various containers (such as MOV, AVI etc to allow licensing) X264 can NOT (as i said).
Either way Filmflex uses neither as the containeer and it does indeed use silverlight...
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
It also appears from my admitted limited reading on THIS POINT, the HD stuff is only 720p at best :(
Posted by AndrueC over 7 years ago
Yah. Still - it'd be interesting to see. Video encoding technology is improving all the time. Personally I'd love to be able to use a VoD service but I'm a Sky HD subscriber. Over 80% of what I watch is HD these days and almost all the discs I rent through Lovefilm are Bluray.

No way am I going back to SD for things I care about. 'On demand' is not worth that.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
I cant even bare to watch any of my all time fave movies on TV anymore, be it analogue, digital, SD or HD..... All are inferior to the Bluray (butchered aspect ratios, edited with scenes cut out and other nonsense).

As to most so call HD movie services in this country, they are nothing of the sort, ive seen films that claim to be HD which are worse in visual quality terms than the DVD... HD here when it comes to online content has become nothing but a con. Ill never pay for a ondemand movie or net HD download all the time they are inferior to even DVD.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Ive been stung before, ill never be stung by the lies of promised high quality net based video again.
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