TV in HD, Please

I want my. I want my TV in HD please.

How good was that French bike race? Cadel Evans, an introvert, so insular that he loves his team members because they leave him alone, only to speak to him if it’s ‘work related’, put his head down and won the three week European torture orgy. It was a win for the quiet nerd who’s happy to go the knuckle if you walk too close. Don’t believe me? Look up “angry Cadel” on youtube.

And when it comes to three week European torture orgies, the Tour de France is by far the prettiest. On my big fat and thin LED television (yeah, I’m proud to be an effluent suburban boy with his suburban toys and if you got a problem with that, I’m happy to arrange an after-school appointment outside the Glen Waverley station, knives optional), the French countryside is so gorgeous it makes me want to weep.

But it doesn’t. It only makes me angry.

Why? Because, right now, the Tour De France is the only sporting event broadcast in high definition on free to air television. Channel Ten dropped their One HD broadcasts of the footy when they lost the bidding war, Channel Seven uses their HD capacity for Hogan’s Heroes reruns and the ABC’s VFL and lawn bowl coverage is shot on Super 8.

I was at the MCG a couple weeks ago with mates, watching another game on one of the TVs in a bar at half time. Seven’s standard definition telecast was embarrassing: So pixellated you’d think we were watching the game on a Super Nintendo. One of my mates started hitting the TV thinking it was the reception, leaving me to explain to the security guard that the beer all over the screen was Kerry Stokes’s fault. This time, we were lucky. The security guard was similarly angry at the horribly pixellated coverage of a recent Rajasthan Royals cricket game. In the end we had to pull him back from, Michael Douglas Falling Down style, smashing all the TVs in the place.

We know why the channels serve us this pixellated rubbish. It’s because they prefer to use their share of a limited amount of spectrum/signal on more programming, looking to get a snare of the audience that doesn’t like footy with Hogan’s Heroes reruns, or in the ABC’s case, News 24. The Green Guide’s Paul Kalina explains why so much better than I can.

What’s interesting in Kalina’s article is the differing in opinions between ABC’s Kim Dalton who thinks the difference in broadcast quality is marginal and Foxtel’s Patrick Delany who told Kalina that 80% of new customers sign up to their HD service, so much so that they’ve stopped ordering SD set top boxes from their supplier. And they’re listening to their big television owning sports fan audience with many HD channels and a promise to play all games of AFL next year in HD.

And what annoys me most is the emptiness behind the bragging that has always come with sports broadcasting. Race Cam, Hawk Eye, Super Tedious Slo Mo, that ridiculous camera that buzzes above the players during an AFL finals game and 3D – none of us really care.

If you really care about your audience, open up your pocket, hire some HD cameras (last year’s Grand Final replay was shot in SD because all the cameras were double booked for the Commonwealth Games), and broadcast the game in HD. It’s not too much to ask.

I’ll leave you with a bit from an amusing article from 2007 proclaiming the exciting new era of HD TV.

“Besides spectacular vistas and shockingly real playing fields, hi-def clarity puts any and all wrinkles, pimples and pores on display in well-lit bathroom-mirror detail.”

Hogaaaaan!

7 Comments

  1. Great article. This is what gets me with the AFL rights, some people think it’s some right that we get it free, however the coverage is 8-bit quality.

    Say what I’m sure Brett will, but at least when I pay for my Fox sports HD, I get it.

    Stuff FTA And their cries to keep sport free, the way you treat sport you don’t deserve it! *

    *SBS excluded, the TDF/Olympics and Football coverage is/has been awesome!

  2. David Boxcutter says:

    Why the single-minded emphasis on sports in both this, and the linked Green Guide article? What about those of us who don’t watch sports, but want to see movies, drama, animation, and even Reality TV in HD?

    The sports fans have actually had it better than us, what with One HD and the Tour France, and as you say, the HD channels being squandered on reruns that were never HD ready.

    The real culprits appear to be government regulation that the “primary” channels must be broadcast in SD, and the networks not being allowed enough spectrum to have more HD channels. I’m not sure why this fact was so glossed over in this article, while sports fans are made out to be the poor victims of a nefarious network scheme.

    I get the impression from this article that author thinks the only legitimate use for Television broadcasts should be sports.

  3. Glenn Peters says:

    It’s okay, I completely agree with your points about the primary SD channels and the networks not being allowed to have spectrum for more HD programming, David. I remember the CSI sunsets and David Caruso’s skin were a marvel to look at on my parents big TV in HD years ago before the new channels kicked in.

    But I was only talking about sports in this article because it’s been during sports telecasts shot with old cameras, and broadcast on the super cheap, where I’ve noticed the difference between SD and HD most.

  4. David Boxcutter says:

    Fair enough.

    It just didn’t come through in the article that you were bothered by regulation or bandwidth allocation. It sounded like you were laying it all at the feet of the networks, rather than acknowledging that they’d been put in a difficult position by external forces.

  5. Do the owners of Channel 10, who dumped their HD Footy have an interest in Foxtel, who are promising more HD Footy?

    • Glenn Peters says:

      Hi Adam! I’ve seen you say funny things lots of times on my TV.

      Anyway, they don’t. Channel 10 dropped HD footy to save money. There’s an article by Michael Bodey about it here.

      But there were rumors that the decision was made when they were in a bit of a tizz after losing the last bits of the future AFL rights to Foxtel.

  6. Glenn Peters says:

    This week’s Grand Final will be filmed in but not broadcast in HD. If you want to see the game in HD you’ll hve to wait for the Foxtel replay during the night or later in the week when the DVD and Bluray is on sale.

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