For those of you who have enjoyed watching your favourite Network Ten programs in high-definition – shows like House, Thank God You’re Here, Rove, Neighbours, Australian Idol and even Ten News, Neighbours and 9am – your days may soon be numbered because, while Ten are no doubt grateful for your support, from April next year it appears Ten will turn over its high-definition channel entirely over to sport.
In launching Australia’s first 24/7 free-to-air sports channel, TenHD will become OneHD, so named because ‘1’ is the digital channel number for the HD channel. OneHD will also be simulcast on a separate standard-definition digital channel.
The new channel is part of the relaxing of multi-channel restrictions currently placed on the commercial broadcasters. Up until 2007, none of the commercial channels were allowed to provide multiple programming options via digital, and only from last year it was possible to have dedicated high-definition programming.
From 1 January 2009, commercial networks will be permitted to offer multi-channel programming in both standard and high-definition formats.
OneHD will tackle pay television’s grip on wall-to-wall sports coverage with its own 24-hour schedule of various local and international sports, including AFL, netball, cricket, Formula 1, NFL, NBA, Major League baseball, golf and tennis. Ten has also scored a coup by securing exclusive rights to Swimming Australia events including Australian Swimming Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and FINA World Short Course events.
As current legislation dictates, major events such as the AFL Grand Final and the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be shown on Ten’s primary channel as well as in high-definition on OneHD.
OneHD also promises to expand its long-running Sports Tonight format with two daily editions of the program. The channel also promises programming dedicated to AFL and other sports analysis. Ten sports stalwart Stephen Quartermain and Fox Sports commentator Robert Walls are reported to be fronting a post-round AFL program being proposed for the new channel.
The move to OneHD is a bold move in that Ten’s efforts in launching TenHD with some fanfare last year may now be redundant. As well, networks (including Ten) are already losing favour with viewers over current trends towards sudden and numerous schedule changes, intrusive advertising and late-running programs, so for Ten to wipe out its high-definition mainstream programming, in favour of what is essentially niche market programming, is a risky move that could further alienate viewers, which will no doubt be something that its rivals Seven and Nine will endeavour to pounce on.