Rumours are surfacing that Nine will be offering multi channel coverage of the London 2012 Olympics when the event kicks off late July this year, including the possibilty of 3D broadcasts.
If the rumours prove to be true, this would be the first time that an Olympic Games has been covered in a multi channel envoronment on free to air television in Australia.
In 2008, when Seven broadcast the Beijing 2008 Olympics, months before the networks were allowed to offer digital secondary channels, the coverage was single channel only, simulcast in HD on the then 7HD channel.
The minimum we should expect from Nine is that the London 2012 Olympics will be simulcast in HD on their HD channel GEM. Should the network opt to provide regular programming during the Olympics on its digital channels, the viewer backlash could severely hurt Nine’s brand.
But, if Nine provide three channels of Olympic Games coverage this year – using the main channel Nine, and digitals GO! and GEM, the network would enjoy significant positive viewer feedback and long term flow on effects that could help the network topple Seven by winning the 2012 ratings year.
Should there be a free to air 3D broadcast, we may see the revival of the trail 3D channel 40, last used in 2010 for State Of Origin, Soccer World Cup and AFL Grand Final broadcasts.
For the now small percentage of viewers who do not yet have digital TV (less than 10%), anit-suphoning laws will guarantee most major events featuring Australian competitors, as well as the opeing and closing ceremonies, will still be seen on Nine’s main channel. The digitals would offer supplementary coverage, giving free to air viewers a much broader choice of events to watch.
Meanwhile, Foxtel are now heavily promoting their 2012 Olympics package which offers 8 distinct dedicated HD channels for the event. Promotions on Foxtel include a daily countdown of the number of days until London 2012 (204 as of January 5, 2012).
Nine are yet to release detailed broadcast information relating to the 2012 Olympics.
The Olympic Games for 2012 run from July 27 to August 12, 2012.