Earlier this month we launched our Mini TV Box with the latest Horizon 5 technology in Virgin Media Ireland – another important milestone in the evolution of our Horizon Entertainment platform.
The journey may have begun some years back, but our ambition has been consistent all along – to build an entertainment platform that seamlessly helps customers connect and engage with the best content in the best quality available. It has been a labour of love, spanning many years and many teams, but innovation remained at its heart, as we took the latest developments in technology and integrated them into the platform to help build a better experience for our customers.
Horizon’s 5-year innovation journey
The development of our Horizon Entertainment platform began with a clear purpose: to utilise innovation to create a simple-to-use experience for our customers, giving them access to great content regardless of the screen they were using.
With the launch of Horizon in 2012, we introduced breakthrough services, including Replay TV and Horizon Go. We recognized that customers wanted to watch TV while on the move and according to their schedules, and with the introduction of Replay TV we recorded all TV programs for the last 7 days, enabling customers to watch at their preferred time rather than waiting in front of the TV for the program to air. With Horizon Go, an app-based version of the platform, customers gained access to their favourite TV channels, video on demand and their recordings, which they could watch on any device, from laptop to mobile or in front of the traditional TV screen. Suddenly the fight over the remote was over and customers were choosing to watch sports on other screens, as we saw from the record-breaking usage on every Formula 1 race won by Max Verstappen.
Horizon 4 arrived in 2017, and we future-proofed the user interface and enabled voice-based search, creating easy content discovery and instant access to content by just saying the name of the program into our new remote control. Horizon 4 included the introduction of OTT (over-the-top) apps, starting off with onboarding Netflix followed by many others, including Disney+ and Amazon Prime over the years. We changed the way customers can store recordings through accommodating a network-based recording instead of hard-disk based recording. This also resulted in a better recording experience with unlimited data space and simplification of our set top box design.
But the world and customer habits have evolved. People are spending more time than ever watching and engaging with video content. Video has established itself as the primary method for communicating, learning or simply killing time regardless of whether it is happening with traditional TV, social media, games, or streaming services. Streaming video over the Internet has made it extremely effective for content creators to bring their content directly to customer devices and build billing relationships with them. From there, we saw the rise of streaming apps.
Boosting customer experience through Horizon 5 innovation
Innovation gives customers the upper hand as we’ve made changes to our technology to provide more choice, control, and exposure to high quality content.
These days, customers are inundated with OTT application options, each with a different user interface (UI) to get used to. For each app, you have to learn how to discover content, find the next binge-worthy series, and manage your payments and overall spend on entertainment. After all that work, it can be disappointing to find out the next big series isn’t available on any of your subscriptions.
This customer fatigue presented us with a new opportunity to look at content, connectivity and the customer experience in a revolutionary way when we developed the next step in Horizon’s journey.
Horizon 5 is delivering on the need for content aggregation and bundling to help customers navigate the growing library of first-class content. We call this “super aggregation,” pulling in all key streaming apps across TV, music, gaming, smart home and social. This way, customers have access to relevant content whether it’s their favourite TV channels, On Demand movies or streaming services – all in one place and through fair and flexible bundles. We’re providing customers with control over their subscriptions from within the user experience, helping them get the most out of their time and their wallet.
With Horizon 5, we’re incrementally innovating our ‘hyper personal’ user experience, too. Horizon’s Personal Home understands what you want to watch next, where you left off your series binging, and tunes in quickly to most your watched channels, providing interesting recommendations based on machine learning. It also uses descriptive information for content, on both streaming services and TV, to ensure customers can seamlessly explore, discover, and search for content no matter where it is, without having to go through different applications.
These experiences are all delivered into our customers’ homes using our smallest, greenest box ever. Our award-winning Mini TV Box is low in energy and built from recycled materials. It’s easily connected over WiFi, leaning on our best-in-class IP networks. On cable or fibre, we are ready for the future to turn any screen into the one-stop-shop for personalized entertainment, helping customers get the most out of their entertainment needs.