Virgin Media launches a new budget ‘Classic’ bundle for £18 a month, as the UK TV battle warms up

Virgin Media launches a new budget ‘Classic’ bundle for £18 a month, as the UK TV battle warms up ...

With Netflix making inroads in the UK, and BSkyB launching a very alluring service in the form of Now TV, 2012 is shaping up for a pretty interesting year on the digital media front.

With that in mind, Virgin Media has launched a new ‘Classic’ package, incorporating TiVo, broadband and weekend calls for £18 a month. It’s worth noting here that this is in addition to the Virgin Home Phone (£13.90 per month) which is mandatory, and an installation charge of £49.95.

It’s an interesting launch though, and is indicative of the way the UK market is currently heading – with competition heating up, media companies are looking for new ways to tempt subscribers on board. Its Classic Collection will be in addition to the existing Essential, Premiere and VIP Collections, and will be aimed at those with less to spend on subscription TV packages.

With TiVo, viewers can search for a pretty broad range of content and can automatically record shows based on what they’ve previously watched, or using its ‘Thumbs’ user-rating features to suggest new shows. It also has a number of apps available for it, such as Spotify.

In terms of what content the new package will include, well, it goes without saying that Sky Sports isn’t included. The Classic Collection comes bundled with the basic TV and radio channels, including HD, as well as catch-up services. So essentially it’s Freeview, with 58 channels (including five HD channels) and BBC iPlayer, ITV Net Player, 4oD and Demand 5. You’ll also be able to tap its pay-per-rental service, which will give you on-demand access to a tonne of movies.

“The success of our Collections to date is testament to the growing mainstream demand for superfast broadband and next generation connected television,” says Andrew Barron, chief operating officer at Virgin Media. “Our customers tell us they love being able to enjoy their favourite TV shows at a time that suits them and that they’re discovering new family favourites thanks to TiVo. In introducing the Classic Collection, we continue to make such leading services the standard with Virgin Media.”

In terms of how this ranks against the other packages available, the next rung on the Virgin Media ladder is Essential, which is pretty much the same as the Classic Collection, except you get 25 more channels, including Gold, Discovery, Sky Sports News and British Eurosport. This costs £25 a month, though as with the Classic Collection they both come half-price for the first six months on an 18-month deal. Otherwise, it’s full price on a 12-month deal.

By way of comparison, the closest deal to this on BSkyB would probably be its starter bundle, which costs £21.50 a month plus £14.50 a month Sky Line rental. This gets you some of the basic Sky channels AND Sky Atlantic, whilst its mobile Sky Go offering plus 240 free-to-air channels makes this perhaps a more tempting offer.

However, there are pros and cons to both, and if nothing else Virgin’s latest offering gives you more of a choice when deciding between the two. You can scan the Virgin Media bundles in more depth here.

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