Virgin Media O2 is challenging Sky with the launch of a new – and it is claimed more affordable – streaming platform, combining subscription video on demand (SVOD) services with catch-up from the linear channels.
Rather unimaginatively dubbed Stream, the firm has hailed the service as an “All IP entertainment product” that combines “convenience, flexibility and value for money”.
The platform has been in design for two years and is designed to challenge the Sky Glass and its associated Puck. However, Stream comes with a 10% discount to streaming services that customers can add or remove on a monthly basis.
Other than a £35 activation fee there are no other charges associated with the box itself, which is small enough to sit in the palm of a hand and connects to the TV through an HDMI port. A power supply is required when the Stream cannot be powered through the HDMI.
Virgin Media O2 is targeting light TV viewers who may not otherwise go for its traditional TV 360 product; some 17 million UK households currently subscribe to an average 2.4 streaming services.
On launch, viewers are presented with a home screen based on Liberty Global’s Horizon 4, where streaming services and channels sit on rails, ordered according to which have been chosen by subscribers, and their recommendations and favourites pushed to the top.
Virgn Media O2 chief TV and entertainment officer David Bouchier said Stream was designed to “cut out the noise”.
Apps come from Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, YouTube, YouTube Kids, Vimeo, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, STV Player, Britbox and My5. There are additional broadcast apps from Al Jazeera, CNN and France24, along with Vevo, BBC Sounds, BaebleMusic, Dance TV and RadioLine.
All but Prime Video and Britbox can be ordered through Virgin, while the only noticeable absentees are Apple TV+ and Discovery+. Virgin says more apps will be added.
Virgin Stream is available from Wednesday.
Uswitch.com telecoms expert Ernest Doku said: “Hot on the heels of Sky’s bid to revolutionise entertainment with a new TV in Glass, Virgin’s Stream frees consumers from the shackles of lengthy streaming services – all from a tiny device showcasing your favourite live and on-demand content in one place.
“At a time when the cost-of-living crisis is really starting to squeeze households across the UK, Stream also allows its customers to keep track of and manage all of the entertainment services they use in one place.
“This will be especially useful to people who struggle to juggle payments for different entertainment services.
“With no monthly subscription fees, Stream allows you to dip in and out of each service, giving more flexibility to customers that may not want to stay subscribed to each of them throughout the year.
“By putting the technology into a dongle similar to an Amazon Fire Stick, it means that for most people with a HDMI port in their TV, it will be straightforward to set up and easy to transfer to another TV in the home.”
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