Late 2008, the Ten Network announced that they would be launching ONE HD in March 2009. Ten were the first commercial network to announce and launch a secondary digital channel, and the first to sacrifice their main channel HD simulcast in favour for a secondary channel. Each of the commercial free to air networks currently are allowed just one HD channel and 2 standard definition channels. The main channel also has to be in standard definition.
ONE HD, a 24 hour sports channel would mean that main channel content from Ten would no longer be seen in HD. Until ONE HD launched Ten in fact had the most hours of HD breakaway programming at the time, including Sci Fi on Thursday nights, Neighbours catch up on the weekends, and time shifted news on weeknights.
ONE HD promised to deliver sport – the way it should be – in high definition – including HD coverage of the AFL games that Ten airs. Other sports on ONE include coverage of Australian Netball, Formula One, surfing, swimming, the IPL cricket from India as well as American Football and basketball. ONE also has soccer with Liverpool TV and Arsenal TV. Sports Tonight updates us with sports news, while a number of live panel shows like ONE Week at a Time and the Game Plan provide discussion on AFL, NRL and other subjects.
Due to low ratings during weeknight prime time hours, ONE has recently introduced ONE at the Movies and ONE Adventure to help lift the channels’ shares. Initially ONE at the movies features sports based movies, while ONE Adventure is documentaries aimed predominantly at “blokes” with shows like Ax Men, Ice Road Truckers and Black Gold.
But just how much of this content is in HD? The answer is – unfortunately, not that much.
Both the NBA and NFL (basket ball and American football) from the US air in HD. The NFL in particular looks superb – well worth watching just to enjoy some high def TV even if most of us have no idea what is going on! Also supposedly in HD is One Week at a Time and new NRL discussion program, The Game Plan. Other programming in HD includes The Pro Shop on Monday nights, WWE on Thursdays, RPM on Tuesdays and drag racing. Some of the movies aired on ONE are in HD.
Shows not in HD on ONE include Sports Tonight, and both our local netball (ANZ Championship) and basketball leagues. None of the ONE Adventure documentaries are in HD, nor is Escape with ET which airs most weeknights at 6pm. Liverpool TV is not in HD, and other regular programs like Omnisport are not either.
Looking at the next week of programming, there is less than an average of an hour and a half of actual HD programming on ONE HD during the prime time hours of 6pm – midnight. Some nights have none at all, while Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays have the most HD content – two and a half hours on Saturday night, two hours on the other two nights.
To be exact, and based on the internet TV guide for ONE HD from their own web site, ONE HD has just 11 hours of HD content during prime time in a 7 day period*. If both the week’s movies were in HD in the coming week, that number would have risen to 15 or 16 hours. This is out of a possible 42 weekly prime time hours.
Most TV guides will not tell you if a show is in HD or not. Printed guides these days give no hint, and not all internet guides tell you either. Two that do – but only when you click on each show to look – is www.youtv.com.au and tv-guide.onehd.com.au.
But just because a guide indicates a show as being in HD – doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Looking at The Game Plan (NRL) from last Thursday night (March 17), it certainly did not look to be in HD to me. The clarity was no different than a standard definition program.
Like I stated earlier, I have seen NFL in HD on ONE – and you can really tell the difference between what is HD and what isn’t – regardless of what the guide tells you. Perhaps it was just that one broadcast of The Game Plan that was not in HD? That being said, the result is even less HD programming on ONE – once you start including shows that say they will be in HD but actually are not.
It is not known whether Ten actually procures any of their main channel content in HD – given they have not have an HD channel to air them on for two years now, they probably don’t to save on the expense. But shows like Glee, NCIS, House, The Good Wife, Law & Order, Hawaii Five-O to name a few, as well as Neighbours (yes – even Neighbours), Dexter and All New Simpsons are all made in HD.
Subscription TV channel FOX8 used this fact to promote Glee as being an exclusive in HD – as the series had never been seen in HD in Australia before it was being aired on FOX8. Looking forward to season 22 of the Simpsons in HD on FOX8 HD once the Ten network are done with the new episodes, currently airing on digital channel ELEVEN.
Next Part: Part 3: ABC news 24.
* 7 day period for ONE HD was based on Sydney programming from Wed Mar 16 – Tue Mar 22.
Read part 1 here.