Monday, May 24, 2004

Farewell HomeChoice

Goodbye, then HomeChoice.

Four years ago, you were irrestistible. Less than 20 quid a month for really fast internet access was unbeatable. And the ability to pay to watch the odd TV programme on demand down my phoneline was too good to resist.

So much so, that soon enough I was happily paying £35 a month every month for Broadband internet access, great comedy shows on demand, and a staggering on-demand music chanel. Sigh - how many shags were impressed by being able to watch every Madonna/Five video ever? A shocking number.

And, on quiet Friday nights in, my flatmate and I adored curling up in front of the projector to watch big screen movies - sent down the phoneline at adorable quality.

It was too good to be true. And it was too good to last.

The On-Demand channels suddenly got a bit skimpy - gone were vast archives of wonderful shows, replaced by scrapings from BBC One and the odd Canadian fantasy show. True - there was the odd moment of brilliance (State of Play) - but pretty much nothing else.

Then, all of a sudden, a new HomeChoice box arrived. That didn't work. They'd obviously somehow beefed/stuffed up the copy protection, so now it wouldn't work going through a video - which made it a bit of an arse watching anything.

Worse was to come. They relaunched the interface. Suddenly everything was a channel. A really hard to find channel. With not much on it. And no easy way back. Or forward. Or anywhere. But all you had to do to watch last night's EastEnders was press the green button. Shudder.

Then, they proudly announced the addition of extra channels - including UK Gold and BBC Four. Obviously, these would be on demand - which would be fantastic. I mean - they wouldn't just rebroadcast the channels would they? That would be silly.

Oh. They did. But without UK Gold. Or anything interesting. How anyone's proudest marketing boast could be "now includes BBC Three" is beyond me.

And the box still wouldn't work through the projector - despite constant assurance from technical support of "ongoing difficulties/MacroVision reboot" etc. Engineers would come and go. Or, occasionally, just forget to turn up.

They were turning into NTL. Only with worse service. I was now paying £40 a month for a freeview box that I couldn't watch. God knows what the 5,000 other subscribers thought.

They kept on sending out service upgrades almost weekly - including a ridiculously large, scary remote control, and a glossy, glossy brochure about how some of their channels (like BBC One) contained programmes you could watch on demand (like, uh, EastEnders).

Rubbish. I'd rather spend £40 a month on having fun.

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