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.”