Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ultimate media - Digital TV versus Web 2.0?

I'm a regular watcher of Channel Ten's late news. Is it Tom Piotrowski? Is it the obvious sexual tension between Sandra Sully and Brad McEwan? Or maybe it's just that my couch is damn comfy and I can't be bothered going upstairs to bed. Irregardless, the other night they announced Ten's new venture - ONE HD, a dedicated 24 hour sports channel going free-to-air. I love my sport and don't have Austar (that's Foxtel to you metropolitan types), so I'm quite excited about being able to watch NBA, NFL and MLB games in the comfort of my own home.

So I went for a bit of a hunt on Firefox for some more info, and I found the official press release. And I realised just how much of a stronghold this will give Channel Ten on free-to-air sports coverage in Australia - they will broadcast AFL, netball's ANZ Championship, the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the Indian Premier League, Formula 1, Moto GP, NASCAR, ARC, NFL, MLB, NBA, all the big golf tournaments in the US and Australia, NCAA football and basketball, ATP and WTA tour events, and also the Australian Swimming Championships. The final event is a huge coup, since it has always been a huge ratings winner for Nine, especially in Olympic years.

As I got even more aroused as I read through the release, this line caught my eye...

"From time to time, ONE will feature extreme sports, emerging sports and a range of sports-related programming including documentaries."

Hey! Ultimate's an emerging sport! Maybe we could be on One HD!

Not so fast there, champ.

This new channel is going to attract a lot of attention from advertisers looking to throw money at air time that the 18-44 male demographic is watching. Cars, bourbon, beer, sports drinks and the like. Markets that spend a lot of money on advertising, and that will leave Channel Ten executives wondering how deep to make their Scrooge McDuck Money Bin. Pretty soon the other two free-to-air networks are going to want some of that action and will look to set up similar digital channels in the future. But One HD has eaten up a lot of what sports are available, and Fox Sports has the rights to a lot of what's left. Seven (let's face it, Nine have their head so far up their own ass they won't realise what' going on) can take AFL, V8 Supercars and tennis (already massive cash cows), try and wrangle the A-League from Fox Sports, and maybe get horse racing, NBL and WNBL, and throw a bit of money at Super 14 (since they have the Wallabies matches) and they should have a decent competitor. That's the window for us - this is where ultimate could lobby either Seven or Fox Sports for some air time.


We could continue down the road we've been on for a while - the "Web 2.0" road. Also known as the "user generated content" road, but that's a much less snappy name. Think about it - we have Ultivillage branching out into live coverage, Blockstack with their online TV show, Ballarat Ultimate with their opinionated and biased coverage of the Australian scene and The Huddle with their online magazine. Not to mention the countless amounts of blogs with local coverage, some of which are outlined to your right.

With the technology to do that kind of thing getting cheaper and more user friendly, it should only be a matter of time before we start to see more coverage of international events. Imagine in five years time being able to log on and watch live or delayed coverage of Potlatch, Paganello, UK Nationals and whatever else tickles your fancy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to fire up the Score Reporter to follow UPA Nationals.

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