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UPDATE Virgin Media UK Launch Broadband Internet Movie Streaming Service

Posted: 26th Apr, 2010 By: MarkJ
virgin mediaCable giant and UK ISP Virgin Media has today announced the launch of its legal internet based broadband movies service - Virgin Media Online Movies. Customers will be able to stream their choice of film on-demand directly to computers and you don't need to be a customer to do it.

All rentals will offer unlimited views for 48 hours so viewers can pause, rewind and watch again. Plus the film can be watched wherever the account holder logs on. Furthermore you don't have to be a Virgin Media customer to use the service, it's available to all visitors right across the UK.

According to the latest comScore Video Metrix, also out today, some 5.5 billion videos were viewed online in the UK during February 2010. That's a rise of 37% over the same period in 2009. YouTube.com continues to account for the lions share with 99.6% of all video views. The BBC saw 140m.

Alex Green, executive director, commercial, TV and online, Virgin Media said:

"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."

Virgin Media Online Movies is powered by FilmFlex, which has helped operate their movies on demand TV service since January 2005. The operator also plans to launch an online TV player (like the BBC's iPlayer) later this year and hopefully a music download and streaming service too, assuming the rights holders approve it.

If successful it could prove to be a viable alternative to unlawful downloading, although unfortunately the latest movie releases still remain firmly tied to static cinema screens. However consumers should be cautious, streaming movies can put a lot of strain on cheaper broadband connections. In some cases this could cause your ISP to impose extra charges or limit connection speeds.

The service expects to have hundreds of titles to watch on demand, including the Fantastic Mr Fox, District 9 and, from 6th May, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Prices are likely to be around £3.99 for a 48 hour rental, although at the time of writing their new service did not yet appear to be live.

UPDATE 27th April

Here's the beta link:
http://onlinemovies.virginmedia.com

Rental prices seem to vary between 99p for some older films and £3.99 for the latest releases. The HIGH QUALITY video viewing runs at a speed of roughly 1.8Mbps, though Virgin Media have accounted for fluctuations and thus recommend a "connection" speed of 4Mbps. They suggest 2Mbps for NORMAL QUALITY.
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