This week, Virgin Media O2 launched its new entertainment service Stream from Virgin Media, offering customers a new way to bring together their favourite TV channels, video apps and streaming subscriptions in one place.
Running off a small plug-and play box powered entirely by the UK company’s broadband, Stream is available starting April 27th 2022. It combines the UK’s most-loved TV channels with on-demand apps, popular streaming subscriptions and must-watch movies to offer customers a convenient and personalised entertainment experience that works for them.
At a launch event on April 26th, Virgin Media O2's chief operating officer Jeff Dodds described Stream as an “all-IP entertainment product” and outlined three principles it was built around:
The first is convenience. “This is a portable device you can take anywhere around the home,” said Jeff.
The second is flexibility: “You will never have had as much control over your entertainment packages as you’ll have with Stream.”
The third is value for money: “Value for money has been a design principle for us from the beginning. But we had no idea when we were building this product that it would be as relevant as it is today in terms of the cost of living squeeze.”
In one of several comments that seemed to reference a particular aerial-themed entertainment competitor, Jeff promised Virgin Media O2 is “not going to try and sell you a new TV.”
What it is selling is a device that plugs into “any recent TV” with an HDMI port, turning it into a voice-activated smart TV, helping customers save on the cost of upgrading their viewing experience.
“We want our customers to have a cutting-edge entertainment product and we don't believe that we need to become a TV manufacturer to make that happen,” said David Bouchier, chief TV and entertainment officer at Virgin Media O2, in another comment evocative of their competitor’s recently launched TV subscription service. “There are lots of fantastic HD and UHD screens around people and we believe they don't need to be junk. They just need to be upgraded.”
While there is no monthly subscription, at launch, Stream will only be available to customers with Virgin Media broadband, or who have broadband and home phone packages. The company adds that the reason for this is that with Stream relying on broadband internet to stream content, Virgin Media wouldn’t be able to guarantee the speed it relies upon unless that broadband was on its own network.
“We have the nation's fastest broadband. That's why we're able to do it,” said David. “When we were designing this product it was an end-to-end product. I don't need to say something like, ‘You have 20 megabits per second to watch in UHD' or 'You have to watch a wheel of death while you're waiting for HD to load'. None of that. We know that almost all our customers start at 100 megabits and above.”
There is a £35 one-off activation fee for the device and remote control. After that, Stream will be on a fuss-free, 30-day rolling contract so customers can add or remove subscriptions every month, with the ability to save on their streaming subscriptions when adding them to the service. From news channels to sports and kids TV, Stream provides a one-stop-shop so customers can easily select and swap the channels and streaming services that truly matter to them.
Additionally, through Stream, Disney+ is now available on Virgin TV for the first time ever , so customers can enjoy exclusive must-see originals, movies, series and documentaries from the worlds of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and general entertainment brand Star. The other must-have apps available on Stream include Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Starzplay, BritBox and YouTube as well as live TV subscriptions including Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Speaking to the value-for-money proposition, customers can also get 10% credit back every month on each of their subscriptions they add to Stream.
Virgin Media O2 claim that Stream is also its “greenest product ever,” due to the device’s compact size that uses “less of the world’s resources” and no single-use plastics.
The user experience has been designed to be clear and personalised according to what subscriptions the customer has access to, explained David. “We're trying to cut out the noise,” he said. “ The great thing about living in the golden age of television is there's so much choice. The problem is we live in the dark age of the user experience, where just knowing how you can search for it is a challenge.”
Stream is designed around the TV, but also offers the ability to watch on the go. If you subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime, for example, you will also have that subscription to use on the appropriate apps on your other devices, as well as Virgin TV Go that allows you to watch linear TV on devices wherever you are.
Roll all of that together and you can see why the company keeps calling it: “Streaming for the TV generation and TV for the streaming generation.”