Channel 4 and Teleport: A damaging combination

Posted by Chris Green on Saturday December 16 @ 12:23 pm


I’ve been playing with one of Telewest’s brand new cable boxes for about a month now. The reason for having had it installed was that 1) it was free and 2) I wanted to have access to and play with Telewest’s video-on-demand service, called Teleport.

Teleport has impressed me a great deal over the last month, offering a large quantity of pay-per-view movies and TV shows in a true on-demand environment, and with pause, fast forward and rewind capabilities, all controlled in software and with no local hard drive storage.

My only beef is with the Teleport Replay part of the service, which gives you access to a small selection of programmes from the BBC, Channel 4, Bravo, UK Living and Challenge for the current day and the week preceding. The BBC and the Telewest-owned Bravo, UK Living and Challenge offer a great deal of content from the week just past, and make the stuff available within minutes of the show’s original transmission ending. Channel 4 on the other hand offer a very small amount of content, and can often take days to put a show up after transmission, if at all.

Take for example Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. This show airs at 9pm on a Tuesday evening. This week, it did not arrive on Teleport until Thursday. The previous week it didn’t appear until the Friday. The week before that, it didn’t even make it on to Teleport at all.

Come on Channel 4, if you are going to feature a multi-part series on an on-demand playback service such as Teleport, you need to be consistent, either make all the shows available, and soon after original transmission, or don’t make any of them available. Doing some episodes and not others, and having such a hit-and-miss approach to when you do put stuff onto the service will not help viewing figures, and will damage the credibility of services such as your own 4oD and Telewest’s Teleport.

2 responses to “Channel 4 and Teleport: A damaging combination”

  1. Naj Hasan says:

    Read your article with great interest – I would really like to replace the telewest box i have with the macmini – even if it means buying some DIY style mod box to take the subscribers card and feed… There must be a way!!

    Would love to hear your feedback.

    Thanks for an interesting site.


  2. Chris Green says:

    Unfortunately, there simply is not a way to do that. You could get a TV card for your Mac Mini (such as the analogue EyeTV unit from Elgato) and feed the signal into the Mac Mini anout out that way but it will not allow you to dispose of the actual Telewest box.

    Unlike Freeview, the Telewest box (and the same with an NTL box) contains custom firmware that allows it to communicate with the head-end of your cable service, as well as containing the decryption technology needed to unscramble the pay TV signals coming down the cable. The encryption used by both cable operators is pretty poor, and has already been cracked. However, I have yet to see a hacked solution that would allow you to use a Mac Mini as the actual set-top alone.

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