The Ten network has endured a stream of abuse from angry fans after sticking with its decision to move its Formula 1 from the HD channel One to the standard definition main channel and delay the telecasts for viewers not on the east coast.
Ten Sport’s twitter address, @tensporttv, bore the brunt of the anger from hundreds of fans who pledged to boycott the network, advertisers and source pirated or paid streams from overseas.
Ten announced the move quietly last month, hoping that the strong F1 audiences on its former sports channel One would help strengthen its “Super Sunday’’ audiences on the main channel.
But while the broadcast led to a boost in viewers on the main channel compared to House, which it replaced, combined audiences for One and Ten slipped.
Ten executives have insisted the move is a commercial one but the fan anger is expected to grow again next week when Ten also siphons the Moto GP coverage away from One.
As the race in Bahrain unfolded on Sunday, Ten’s twitter stream was the focus of angry outbursts from fans.
Many lucky enough to get the live feed lamented the poor quality of the SD coverage, while fans in Adelaide and Perth were outraged that they were being treated as “second class citizens’’ by being forced to watch the race on delay.
The delay was particularly galling for fans in Perth, the hometown of emerging F1 star Daniel Ricciardo, who joined Mark Webber in the top ten on the starting grid for the first time in his career.
Fans outside the east coast were also angered by Ten’s decision to geo-block its online stream of the race and complained that the network had posted the results of the delayed race even as it was telling online viewers the event was about to begin.
After initially justifying its decision on commercial grounds last week, Ten is now declining to comment further on the move.
The question is now will Ten, desperate to kick-start its year against Seven and a resurgent Nine, tough it out in the face of it’s passionate and angry F1 and Moto GP fans, or seek a solution to an issue that is driving many to view by other means?
ONE’s ratings for Sunday night were abysmal to say the least. Ratings shares for ONE would in fact be higher if the F1 and MotoGP remained LIVE on ONE – in all markets – not just those with delayed coverage on Ten.
If they want to play on Ten as well for the unfortunate few who do not have digital yet, then by all means do it – BUT NOT AT THE PERIL of fans who have got used to seeing, and continue to expect to see this sort of sporting event in HD.
Sadly, under current multi channel arrangements, this is a problem not limited to Ten. Nine do not provide HD coverage for NRL, Seven do not for AFL. The games on GEM and 7mate respecitvely in opposing markets – while broadcast on HD channels are not HD at all.
The only way you can see AFL in HD is on the Fox Footy Channel / Fox Sports where all games are live and most are in true HD (those that are fed from Seven are not in HD).
Hopefully the NRL will reach a similar agreement when their 2013-2017 rights are finalised later this year. Nine only actually show one NRL game live each week, while Fox Sports show 5 games live and in HD, as well as those airing on Nine in delay after they air on Nine. Some even wait for the Nine game delayed on Fox Sports just to enjoy it in HD.
These issues relating to HD sports coverage versus main channel larger exposure should fade to insignificance once analogue TV is gone in 2014.
Source in part: The Australian Pic: ibtimes.co.uk