Channel 7, we need to talk. I thought we had an understanding? You own the broadcast rights to a number of sporting events in this country – things like the V8 Supercars, the AFL & the Victorian Racing Carnival including the Melbourne Cup – and you show them live to air as they happen so that you meet the “live” part of that agreement. You know: live-live. And yet, you seem think that live to tape is honouring that…
I can forgive you dalliances with the Olympics and such in these situations. Those kinds of events are hard to cover. Nobody expects you to really cover all those sports at once, live, although you pushed to have digital multi-channels running in Australia by mid-2000 so that you could broadcast multiple things at the same time free-to-air as they happened (or at least with frequent recapping). You did a great job, and set an early standard for digital multi-channel broadcasting that is still yet to be matched. What’s that? The anti-siphoning list prohibits you from showing major sporting events on your alternate channels? Surely that can be fixed as a part of the current review by the Minister for Broadband, Communications & the Digital Economy, can’t it? (DBCDE – sounds like you’ve something stuck in your throat you’re trying to clear – like a filter or something…)
You treat viewers pretty well when it comes to AFL coverage. Hell, you even managed to change the way the game is played so that once a goal is scored the game effectively stops so that you can run an advertisement or two and then you’ve got a system of lights to tell the umpire the telecast is back from the ad and restart the game! Ingenious! A whole code of football, with a history of over 125 years, altered as a part of a deal for broadcast rights so that your switchboard isn’t jammed with complaints that people missed such-and-such being pushed in the back by so-and-so after the bounce because you were telling them about the latest advances in cat food technology. You have the power. You have the marketing nous. You have the influence to be able to ensure not a moment of vital football action is missed.
So why the hell can’t you do the same with your V8 Supercars coverage?
Your attempts at televising Bathurst, while visually & technically stunning, are becoming as technological as Fred Flintstone’s sundial watch. Depending on an incident in the race to bring out the safety car so that you can go to the ads to “ensure we don’t miss a moment of action” is appalling. Will you do an AFL on motorsport and start arranging for crashes every 5 laps (like you did with the second Gold Coast 600 race this weekend)? Think creatively, dear Network! You know you can make it work for your precious sponsors & advertisers… to hell with the punters – which is what we’ve become now, trying to watch live sport on Channel 7. You can place bets on how late the broadcast will finish compared to real life. Bathurst finished 20 minutes late. As cars we’re being rolled into trucks, Craig Lowndes & Jamie Whincup were crossing the finish line on your “live” television broadcast like it was some strange glitch in The Matrix.
The first Gold Coast 600 race of 102 laps finished 10 laps later on television than in real life. The second race, however, finished live-live. I’m sure we’ll hear bleats of “with so many accidents and safety car periods, it was easier for us to slot in our advertising commitments.” It may well have been – stuff still happened while we were away, and you did replay it for us so we saw it. The system works. Thank you. Just like in the old days when you had no choice or technological means of broadcasting an event any other way than live-live. Or in the case of the Melbourne Cup – your board of executives would have their recently shaven scrotum hung from the Lexus marquee at Flemington should you decide to not show that live-live. I do understand that a typical horse race is over in 3 minutes where as a V8 Supercar event runs for closer to 4 hours, so there are challenges, but it’s not like you sign these contracts with your eyes closed.
Please just fix it. As we’re the fans who go to the events and tune in to watch them, thus making them popular & allowing you to sell the advertising for a premium based on the expected ratings… you really should be treating us better. Leaving it to one of your sports presenters to have to wear the face of public criticism over the Bathurst timing debacle was spineless (although it did allow you to collect some great viewer data & new swear words to add to your blocking lists). I know you can do it. I believe in you. I also know that with Jamie Packer buying a truckload of shares in Channel 10 recently, you can bet your bottom dollar that the cost to retain the AFL & possibly V8 Supercars deals just went up significantly. Don’t screw it up again, please.
P.S. Channel 9, you’re next (what, with your shoddy approaches to Cricket & NRL “live to tape” broadcasting.
P.P.S. Don’t get smug, Channel 10, I’ve got my eye on you too. As does your soon-to-be new boss. And he likes sport.
Image Sources: SteveMolk; Channel 7; zimbio.com