10 things you need to know about Vodafone’s new TV service

20 Jan 2016

Vodafone today launched its new TV service in Ireland. Pictured were Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O'Leary and Ciaran Barrett, head of Consumer Fixed at Vodafone Ireland

Vodafone today (20 January) launched its new TV service in Ireland, which will see the company take on the might of Sky, Eir and Virgin Media in the marketplace.

Vodafone TV comes with more than 100 TV and radio channels and with HD as standard. The new service will include a dedicated Netflix button on remote controls and a range of nifty features that were designed with the Irish TV viewer and the Irish family in mind.

Here’s what you need to know about the new service:

1. Vodafone TV costs €40 for the first six months, including broadband and landline calls

There are two main packages, Vodafone Basic TV and Vodafone TV Plus, which will cost €40 each for the first six months.

The Vodafone Basic TV package provides at least 55 channels with the choice of Netflix or sports (BT Sport or Setanta) with broadband and landline included for €70 per month after the first six months.

The Vodafone TV Plus package includes all channels and a choice of two options that include Netflix, sports and multi-room viewing alongside their broadband and landline calls for €80 per month after the initial six months. Additional packages for Sky Sports and Sky Movies will also be available. Viewers can also sign up for extras like Sky Movies (€24 pm), Sky Sports (€34 pm) and multi-room (€5), which come with an extra wireless set-top box on top of their choice.

2. The remote has a dedicated Netflix button

Netflix is actually a channel (No 333) on the new service but it also has been honoured with a dedicated Netflix button on the remote control, so at a touch of a button you can go into your Netflix profile and enjoy movies or TV shows on demand. Netflix can be enjoyed as an add-on with the two principal plans or users with existing Netflix accounts can just log in.

It’s not quite quadplay, but that is coming

Vodafone avoided the temptation of calling it a quad-play service (that’s phone. TV, mobile and broadband) because it is not yet integrated with other bills like mobile. A spokesperson for Vodafone said that this is currently in the works. In the meantime, there is the bonus news that Vodafone billpay or prepay customers who sign up for the TV service will be able to stream their TV content over the cellular networks via the Vodafone TV Anywhere app at no extra cost to their data plan.

3. Record in hours, not megabytes

It was not a million years ago that we were shoving VHS cassettes or DVRs into machines, and we mostly measured our storage by the hours, not megabytes. In a refreshing return to form, Vodafone’s set-top box will be capable of storing 300 hours of standard definition (SD) content or 165 hours of high definition (HD) recording.

4. It will only work with broadband connections with 40Mbps and higher

Each stream on a Vodafone broadband connection using the TV service has been designed so that each customer, at a very minimum, can watch one channel while at least two others are being enjoyed on other devices in the home. On the minimum speed of 40Mbps, viewers will be able to watch TV while recording two other channels. A spokesman explained that for homes that have signed for TV the TV content will be given a preference for bandwidth.

5. Skip through ads

The refreshing thing about the new TV service is it has been designed with the viewer’s home life in mind, such as predominantly dark colours, so if viewers have a radio channel on they can still keep the room dark. After a year and a half of studying Irish viewing habits, the user interface comes with nifty capabilities such as the ability to instantly go back seven seconds in case you missed something or zoom forward 30 seconds instantly to skip through annoying ads.

 6. You can instantly restart TV shows

While TV programmes are on, users can just instantly refresh to go back to the beginning of a programme. It also features instant fast channel switching, so there’s no lag.

 7. It has seven-day catch-up, so you miss nothing

As well as Restart TV, ad skipping and fast channel switching, Vodafone’s set-top box is designed to allow viewers to catch-up on content within a seven-day period and go back in time and catch anything they may have missed during the week.

 8. You can enjoy your TV anywhere

As we mentioned earlier, the new TV service comes with the Vodafone TV Anywhere app, which means that users can watch TV on iOS or Android devices, as well as set programmes to record, from wherever they are in the world, on travels or at work. Some 73 out of the total of 102 channels can be accessed using the TV Anywhere app.

 9. Enjoy a live preview before you hit that button

One of the arresting features of the new TV service is its TV guide, which can be divided into three kinds of views: genre (adventure, sports, etc), list view and live view. Basically, all three viewing modes feature a live TV filter, so users can get a live preview of what’s on across every channel.

10. No more squabbles: personal profiles for each member of the family

Each member of the family can set up their own profiles on the service that will serve up the kind of TV programmes they enjoy the most. Not only that, but parents can create profiles for their kids to ensure they are enjoying suitable channels.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years