May 17, 2009

Why multi-channeling is bad for HD

Posted in Network Ten tagged , , , , , , , at 8:54 am by Give Me The Remote

With the introduction of three new channels onto our televisual landscape, the amount of new available airspace has increased so suddenly by an amount not seen since the introduction of Australian television in itself.

So for a while the commercial networks used their new HD channel to broadcast their programs in high definition (where available). Brilliant! The latest movies became available in a cinematic quality that may have put the Lumiere out of business (okay not really). Then there was sport – arguably one of the great champions of HD TV – tennis actually became watchable. The world of television seemed pretty good right there and then – TV in regular or BONUS mode!

ten HD

Then came multi-channeling.

One HD launched on March 26th to great fanfare. One HD was an interesting case, because it wasn’t ten HD anymore. It was One HD. A new brand. It looked as though sport on ten was to be no more. Even sporting productions (noteable the Melbourne Grand Prix) were branded on both channels as a One HD event.

one HD

Now comes the gripe..

I’m going to use ten/one HD as an example here because they are the only network really actually using multi-channelling to its full potential.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that ten currently have three channels:

– Ten (SD)
– One HD
– One SD

Can you see something wrong with this picture?

The flagship channel for ten is still ten. Yet it now finds itself with no HD alternative, while One HD broadcasting (alternative) sports gets both a high definition and standard definition channel.

Recently the Simpsons when HD and widescreen in the US. ten no longer has a high definition channel so it’s now marketed here as Simpsons in widescreen. Actually I’m not totally sure that there would be that much difference in The Simpsons HD and The Simpsons SD anyway.

The Simpsons HD

At the moment whilst the IPL takes place on a Saturday night, AFL football is only broadcast on ten (branded as ten). This means that the program being broadcast all over the country in Melbourne’s second highest rating football slot isn’t in HD because there’s people flying planes in circles and Indians pretending that their domestic cricket competition is the best in the world.

It would seem that the priorities are all wrong here. The hurdles jumped in the advancement of multi-channeling appear to have effectively been negated by its cannibalism of the wonderful HD.

A solution?

Having a flexible HD channel used by both SD channels where seen best fit would be a bit too confusing for the viewer I reckon.

So the answer has got to be the addition of another high definition channel simulcasting the original flagship channel in HD.

This is only going to get more frustrating as the networks begin to multi-channel more and more over the coming months and will need to be addressed at some stage.

Broken TV

(images taken from wherever they come from after google suggested them)