With the recent launch of 7Mate (Ch73) and GEM (Ch90), both Channels 7 & 9 have made a fairly dramatic change to how we consume our free to air television: they are broadcasting on their High Definition channels, and as such our weekly fixes of NRL & AFL cannot be consumed in HD any more. Actually, that’s only partially true.

7Mate is Ch7’s “blokes” channel & is reflected in their programming – 5th Gear, Gene Simmon’s Family Jewels, old eps of The A Team, etc. It’s pretty good, although very little content has been produced in HD. The launch of 7Mate was delayed intentionally last Saturday to allow the AFL Grand Final to be broadcast in HD. Then we had a draw and the AFL Grand Final was scheduled to be played again. So, this week, Ch7 will be broadcasting the game in Standard Definition, while you can enjoy espisodes of Riptide & Quincy in glorious SD rebroadcast on a HD channel. Ch7 are yet to make a statement if they will be changing their schedule to show the AFL Grand Final on 7Mate.

WTF Channel 7? You're NOT gonna show the AFL in HD?!

GEM, on the other hand, is Ch9’s female-skewed channel although it’s programming is far more general – lots of good/recent movies, episodes of Friends & the like, and some SPORT! GEM will be showing the NRL Grand Final on Sunday afternoon in glorious HD. They’ve also announced that GEM will be showing the cricket this summer, meaning the two big sporting franchises owned by Ch9 will indeed be broadcast in HD… perhaps at the cost of the market they are trying to attract to the channel.

SOME sense is being shown in the HD sporting wars...

Mind you, Channel 9 aren’t exactly featuring GEM on their website…


A lot of people criticised Channel 10 when they opted to change their High Definition free to air channel from nightly themed programming (bye bye Battlestar Galactica reboot) and instead made it their dedicated sports channel OneHD. Complaints from both sides: from “why waste all that broadcast bandwidth on sport that so few people will watch?”; to “but how will I see any of that sporting gear if I don’t have a HD set top box or TV?”. Luckily, Ch10 resolved the latter issue by temporarily rebroadcasting OneHD on Ch11 as a Standard Definition channel. Come 11/01/2011 however that becomes their 3rd digital multi-channel when they launch Eleven, and you’ll only be able to watch your swimming, NFL & competition bull riding in HD again.

If you don’t already have a HD television setup, should you invest? If you’re an AFL (or V8 Supercars) fan there’s no real incentive. If you’re an NRL fan, possibly. Although all of this will change AGAIN when the NRL and AFL rights are up for renegotiation again in 2012 & 2013 respectively. By then, just make sure you’ve got a HD setup anyway as it’ll be all digital and the televisual landscape will be vastly different. Again.