Technology

Virgin unveils TV 360 premium subscription service, trumps Sky Q with Profiles and 4k mini boxes

Virgin Media has announced an all-new look for its TV service. Dubbed Virgin TV 360, it offers a slew of advanced features, including voice control via a new remote control, Profiles and 4k-capable mini boxes – “Now you can have 4k in every Virgin TV room!”

Virgin TV 360 features an all new user interface, which will be common across the main box, the minis and a newly revamped TV Go app. The platform runs on the existing V6 set top box, but the mini boxes are entirely new.

The new platform is powered by Horizon and developed by Virgin media owner Liberty Global.

Voice control allows programme, genre and app search, as well as playback functionality, including  pause, skip forward or back. The service will also debut a Startover feature, which lets customers skip back to the beginning of live programmes.

Virgin TV 360 features an all new user interface, which will be common across the main box, the minis and a newly revamped TV Go app…

Virgin already offers extensive app integration via its V6 box, and that continues with TV 360. At launch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer will all offer 4k and HDR. While Disney+ is not onboard, it is expected to join the platform in 2021. “We recognise the value of integration,” said the company during the service unveiling.

TV 360 allows users to  record six programmes while watching a seventh, watch on demand programmes and live TV in one room, pause and continue in another room seamlessly through a Virgin TV 360 box or a Mini box.

Up to six personalised user profiles will be supported, each one of which will have its own Watchlist. Users can also edit the linear channels they see for a more streamlined, personal viewing experience. The platform will also curate recommendations, paired to their individual preference. There’s also a shared Household profile. 

The TV 360 ecosystem supports three boxes, the main living room V6 and two mini boxes. Programmes can be paused and continued seamless across multiple devices.

The user experience between mini box and the main living room box is said to be identical. You can schedule and watch recordings from all devices. There’s also provision to download recordings to personal devices via the app, for watching on the go.

Virgin says viewing time rose 10 per cent during the first lockdown, as consumers turned to box set binging.

While voice control is key to the new TV 360 UI, it currently doesn’t extend to support for digital assistants, although it’s been hinted that Alexa integration is on the cards. At launch you won’t be able to voice search netflix, although discussion are apparently ongoing with the streaming giant.

Virgin TV 360 will roll out at the end of this year, and will be available initially to new subscribers and existing takers of its premium Ultimate Oomph bundle, at no additional cost. It will migrate across the Virgin TV universe more widely next year.

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice, Ideal Home, The Luxe Review, Channel News and the i newspaper. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI, and contributor to industry trade magazine ERT. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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