Another year, another Australian Open, another delayed broadcast to those not on Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
At least for 2011, there is one positive – the fact that matches can be moved to 7TWO when they go past 6pm. In 2010, there was an absolute uproar when matches between high profile players were cut off in favour for airing the 6pm news on time.
Every year, there is an uproar from viewers in time zones outside of AEDT about the fact that the evening sessions are not shown live. Seven chooses to air the evening sessions at 7pm in all markets, regardless of time zone. It means that Seven News at Today Tonight remain at 6-7pm each weeknight, and Home and Away at 7pm in the second week of the Australian Open.
But in this day and age of live blogging, live results online, twitter, and 24 hour news services, having live sport on delay – especially for such a major event no longer makes sense.
The arguments the network provides suggesting that viewers would prefer to be able to watch evening matches when they get home is diminishing in merit by the day. If you consider WA for example – one could be on their way home from work at 6pm, only to stumble upon a live result of a game in progress online.
Considering, 6pm in WA is 9pm AEDT, matches are well underway, or even completed by the time people get home. Its all too easy to see the result in the meantime – what good is it watching a game on delay if you know the outcome?
If viewers would like to watch a game later, it should be up to the viewer to chose to do so and then manage their own avoidance of internet or media in order not to know a result. The games should all be shown live, and should one decide to, one can simply record the event to watch in their own time.
Based on comments and reactions to people in online forums and sites that cover the subject, there are more who would like to see all tennis live than those who prefer to have it on delay. People in WA are especially frustrated about the lack of live events over there. Seems just about everything is on delay from the east.
We understand that ratings only count from 6pm, and that Seven would prefer to show the tennis after the news and TT, but as people get their results from elsewhere, ratings will simply diminish.
Sooner or later, they are going to have to give in, and air the tennis live to all markets – including WA.
Here are some ideas and different scenarios to consider.
1. Tennis live into all markets regardless of time zone, news moves times to accommodate. The 6pm News ends up airing at 5pm in QLD, 5.30pm in SA. In WA, they fit in the news later – say 7pm maybe – as 3pm would be too early for nightly news. Any tennis still playing during the news goes to 7TWO – as they are already doing. TT remains after the news. Home and Away does not return until after the tennis, to avoid having it on at different times in different markets to fit around the live tennis.
2. Tennis live into all markets, but 6pm news and TT remains at 6pm and 6.30pm respectively in each local market. During this time, any tennis played airs on 7TWO, with coverage continuing on Seven from 7pm. In the case of WA, if they reached a crucial point in a match at 6.30pm local time, they could put coverage back onto Seven and delay TT, or replay it delayed later, after being on 7TWO.
For the benefit of those who do not yet have digital TV (come on, what are you waiting for?), when live tennis continues at 7pm local time, they simply highlight what has happened in the last hour – similar to what Nine do with the cricket (and in fact, Nine should be doing the same with live cricket – playing it on GEM during the news at ACA, then returning from 7pm so noone misses out).
3. Delayed on Seven, live on 7TWO. Or better yet – live in HD on 7mate, delayed on Seven. This scenario means that tennis ends up on two channels in markets not on AEDT. It means that the digital channel has normal or alternative programming only in live markets. It also would result in a drop of audience for the network overall, due to the fact that two channels are taken up airing the same thing, even if at different times.
I really don’t see the point of having it live on one channel and delayed on another, unless one is in HD. It should be up to each person to decide if they would to delay the event by their own means.
The fact that the tennis is not in HD though is another subject. If it was aired in HD, then it would take over 7mate programming. While nothing on 7mate is actually in HD, 7mate does occupy Seven’s HD channel.
It is a shame, that in 2011, we not only do not get some of our major sporting events live into all markets, but we also do not get them in HD – despite the fact they captured in HD with HD cameras, and sent out to markets outside of Australia in HD. The cricket on Nine is classic example, Seven’s Tennis is now suffering the same issue.
To me, the best solution is that tennis is shown live in HD from day start to days end, with perhaps a highlights package at the end of the day. On Fox Sports, they show numerous matches live and in HD (where possible) to all markets, and play others they were not able to show live, or replay.
Having Seven’s tennis live in HD on 7mate would mean no 7mate programming for two weeks, but it would also mean fans can see in HD. Then, and in accordance to anti-siphoning laws, Seven’s main channel shows the minimum amount of tennis they need to – which would most likely include the full day’s play anyway, other than breaking for the news at 6pm – and then they can promote the fact it is in HD on 7mate.
Having the tennis live on 7mate would also mean Seven could choose to delay evenings on their main channel if they really wanted to. Best of both worlds, a win-win – we get it live, we get it in HD, it is also delayed for those who want to want later. Only if on a HD channel, does it make sense to broadcast live on one channel, and delayed on another.
It’s 2011. Sport should always be LIVE to all markets, and in HD.
It is just a shame that the drive for more channels has all but killed off HD TV in Australia for now. It’s a shame we still have delayed sport on free to air TV in this day and age.