Seven were last to bring us a second digital channel in 2009 with 7TWO, now they are the first of the commercials to launch their third digital channel – 7mate.
7mate will launch with live HD coverage of the AFL Grand Final on September 25 – which of course is one of the year’s most watched TV events so there will be plenty of exposure.
At this stage, we do not know if Prime in regional NSW and Victoria will launch the channel at the same time – or how they will handle the name. 7mate on Prime would be the likely choice – as Prime-Mate – or Primate (!!) – is not really a positive name for a channel. It took Prime months to bring 7TWO to air, and there are still some areas in Australia that can’t even get 7TWO yet.
It was only this time last year – in the first weeks of GO launching that the name Mate was mentioned as a somewhat ridiculously named possibility of Seven’s first new digital channel. Soon after the launch of 7TWO, Seven had deflected attention from the name “mate” saying they had come up with it one day as a diversion to what was really going on with plans for 7TWO.
One thing I’ll give Seven here – is their secrecy. While we are all well aware of both Ten and Nine’s plans for their third channels, we have heard nothing from Seven – not even whispers of a new channel apart from a very small hint at the time 7TWO was launched – then suddenly today – the floodgates open. Press releases and promo videos are out, and they’ll be on the air with 7mate months before Nine and Ten. Interestingly, they have chosen to get this out the SAME day that Foxtel is about to launch 16 new channels plus announce further enhancements to its offerings. (Read more here).
Both Nine and Ten have indicated their new channels will not start until 2011. In the case of Ten, news of the channel’s name and format are expected as part of their 2011 line up launch in September while Nine are toying with the idea of a classic TV channel, similar to pay TV’s TV1, which may be called “GEM”.
7mate will be the 13th full time digital channel in the five city metro markets, 14th if you count community TV now transmitting in digital in Sydney and Melbourne.
7mate will come at the expense of 7HD. It will mean that programming on Seven’s main channel will no longer be seen in HD – at least not at the same time. 7mate will be on digital channel 73, and channel 70 will be phased out (in a similar fashion to the way ABC HD channel 20 was phased out in the lead up to ABC News 24).
Given 7mate is starting with HD coverage of the AFL Grand Final, there is the very real possibility that there will be sport on 7mate, and not just that simulcast from the main channel. With anti-siphoning rules set to be relaxed in 2011, we could well see the Australian Open tennis coverage over two channels come January 2011 and – hopefully – coverage that won’t be left mid-match for the 6pm news as was the case in 2010.
Flexibility in sports coverage with changes to the anti-siphoning laws could see sport live on the digital channels even if it is delayed on the main channel or not even shown on the main channel. AFL could be seen live into the NRL markets for example.
Should be around the start of September – a few weeks from now – that programming details for the new channel will be released.
Read the 7mate press release here.
See the 7mate promo video here.
7mate on yahoo: http://au.tv.yahoo.com/mate/