Virgin Media Gets BBC HD iPlayer Service Through V+ Box

Virgin Media customers will be happy to learn that they will be able to access BBC iPlayer content in high definition resolution through their V+ HD set top box, free of charge.

They will also need a HD Ready TV set with a HDMI port as well for the content to be displayed optimally. The cable company has told that more than 100 million iPlayer views have been logged since the service was launched in 2008 with 15 million views in March alone.

Virgin Media was the first TV platform to get BBC's iPlayer video on demand service. More than 520,000 Virgin Media are currently using the V+ STB and although Virgin Media currently covers only half of the country, iPlayer has picked up very quickly where it complements Virgin Media's own on demand service.

Interestingly, Virgin Media has been using the BBC iPlayer as a unique selling point to differntiate it from rival BSkyB which does not currently offer the service. The V+ box comes as a £49 option on Virgin Media's XL package and will cost £99 on M and L options.

BBC controller of TV platforms Rahul Chakkara said in a statement that "There's a real appetite for BBC iPlayer on TV screens and the addition of the BBC HD programmes further adds to its appeal."

Furthermore, Virgin Media executive director of content acquisition Katharine Burns Rivington added: "BBC iPlayer has been a huge success on our TV platform and we're thrilled to be expanding the service with HD content. We're looking forward to increasing our line-up of broadcast HD channels over the next few months and combining the very best of HD and on demand TV."

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Our Comments

Cnet has an interesting piece of information regarding the new iPlayer HD service. Apparently, the iPlayer HD site only uses a 3.2Mbps H.264 stream, which is only marginally higher than Virgin Media's own SD data stream. This means that the HD capable V+ box should be able to sustain a much higher data stream and, hopefully, produce a higher quality content.

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