The reason Sky have that option is that when their On Demand was launched there was no guarantee that broadband would be fast enough to stream On Demand in real time. So it had to be saved to the box first. For some customers this will still be the case.
With Virgin Media's On Demand there is no need to save the show to the hard drive before you can watch it. If you want, you can save a link to the show in 'My Shows' via a bookmark, to make it easier to get back to it.
********************************** I work for Virgin Media - but all opinions posted here are my own
Hi Ben. Thanks for this detail. Having just moved from Sky to Virginmedia I also miss this feature. I entirely understand your reply in regards to the technical standpoint however it is immediately obvious to me as a new customer that the lack of ability do download an On Demand TV episode is limiting how I watch TV. More and more these days people binge watch TV, watching boxsets over a few nights/weeks instead of watching an episode a week. On Demand episodes of current seasons are typically only available for, at best, four weeks before they are removed. With Sky we are able to opt to download these shows which removed the requirement to watch within a very limited period of time. Especially useful if you missed the first episode or two or a record failed. With Virgin I am unable to do download so, for example, we have been putting of watching season 2 of The Catch and had 5 episodes queued up on the Sky box. Now with Virgin I have gone in to set up my Series Links and have discovered that only episode 2-5 are available (I can accept the lost of episode 1 as it was 5 weeks ago) but as I cannot download episodes 2-5 I am going to be forced to break my preferred viewing habits and watch these episodes now, episode 2 will drop off in just a few days.
So though I agree on the technical reasons the feature is not there the reply somewhat ignores why this feature may be desirable especially as the landscape of how TV is watched is changing. Technically there is no reason virgin could not provide the ability to download On Demand content for later viewing; it is up to the customer to decide how they use their HDD space.
I am a recent convert from Sky and also miss being able to save downloaded BBC (mainly) IPlayer programmes. Many are time limited which means that I will be unable to keep them to watch at a later date.