Foxtel’s promise of “Stunning” High Definition coverage of AFL on their new 24 hour FoxFooty channel has been broken after only the first game.

For months Foxtel has been ramming ads down our throats about their “STUNNING HD” AFL coverage.

I signed up to Foxtel just for the AFL coverage and even paid extra for the FoxFooty HD channel.

Footy fans would have been tickled pink with the glorious HD coverage of the NAB cup final on their high definition TVs.  I thought it looked spectacular on my HD TV.

However, the Round 1 opening game which FoxFooty described as “HD” was closer to some of my 8bit computer games than what I had expected from a true HD broadcast.

In the image below, compare compare the definition of their arms & faces in each of the photos.  The top image is from the NAB Cup Grand Final which was broadcast in true HD.  The bottom image is of the Round 1 Swans vs Giants game which is not broadcast in true HD, despite the “FOXFOOY LIVE IN HD” banner being displayed

In the next image below, it’s hard to spot the difference between the Channel 7 Standard Definition broadcast (left) and the FoxFooty High Definition broadcast (right).

Fans are outraged at Foxtel’s poor quality imagery, some describing it as “upscaled” standard definition.

A Foxtel staff member provides confirmation of the poor quality broadcast:

“Will you be broadcasting Ch 7 game ?
Yes, we will be broadcasting them on the FOX Footy Channel, and upscale them If they aren’t shot in HD) to HD.”

One explanation from an industry insider suggests that Channel 7′s live AFL broadcasts will all be broadcast in SD format.

“I work for Gearhouse Broadcast, the broadcast provider for Channel 7 AFL matches, and the AFL is Not, I repeat, is not produced in HD. The AFL broadcasts on Channel 7 are produced at the venue in SD. The pre-game and half-time packages are also produced at the venue in SD.

Gearhouse do provide a HD truck that is capable of producing broadcasts in HD, but this does not occur. The only period Channel 7 have produced HD content at the venue with Gearhouse Broadcast was during the Finals series’ of 2009 & 2010 (including the 2010 AFL Grand Final, but not the Grand Final replay, as there were no HD trucks available that weekend).”

The Digital TV forums also provide more commentary:

“Foxtel are using their own HD cameras to film their exclusive 5 games …

most of Seven’s matches are produced using HD trucks provided by Gearhouse Broadcast. However a HD signal never leaves the truck. I believe the reason is they want to show different programming on 7mate and don’t want it widely known that they could be showing the match in HD. This way they can sell two different ads for each channel. Simulcasting you only sell the one ad across both channels.

…  Se7en hand off their games to Foxtel, they’re giving them an SD feed …

Se7en … could give Fox Footy a HD feed. Channel Nine does it for there NRL coverage. They also produce macthes in HD and like Seven don’t broadcast in HD themselves. However they give a HD feed to Fox Sports.”

Update, March 27:

Here’s an explanation on what “SD upscaling” technically means:

“ Up-scaling is converting ( approximation) video that was recorded at SD resolution (480i/p, 576p/i) and displaying it at HD resolution (1080p/1080i/720p).SD can be both 4:3 and 16:9 while HD is only 16:9.

Upscaling can’t add detail, so upscaled SD will never look as sharp as a true HD image where all the pixels actually come from the image itself and are not made by blending the pixels of a lower resolution image to fit the fixed pixel panel display like plasma or lcd/led .This process makes the upscaled video look flatter and softer compared to a HD video. also the upscaled reds and blues override detail that r underneath. “

Therefore, is Foxtel’s advertising of their product as “HD” misleading and deceptive?  I wonder what the ACCC’s views would be on this?

Update, March 31:

Footy journalist Damian Barrett has raised the issue with AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou.

“ Andrew Demetriou was just on Triple M, Damien Barrett mentioned about FoxFooty up-scaling Channel 7 games and the no-commentary between Ad breaks. Andrew said ‘It is not in the spirit of the game because of archival purposes the AFL does not want no-commentary between ad-breaks’. He also mentioned that he just heard about the no HD of Channel 7 games and he wants to see the problem resolved. At least the AFL is aware of this problem but whether they do something about it is another story.

Update: Damien Barrett after the interview is really pushing this issue of the no HD from channel 7 and thinks that something will be done about it sooner rather than later. “

The AFL has issued a formal statement regarding the FoxFooty HD debacle.

”  Fox Footy’s advertising campaign has centred on promoting the channel as giving viewers the opportunity to watch AFL games in high definition.

However, the dispute with Channel Seven has not allowed the pay-tv station to show the simulcast game in HD to this stage.

According to Demetriou, both he and the people at Fox Footy only became aware of the issue not long ago.

‘On that other issue of HD, I only found out about it the other day,’ he said.

‘Again it doesn’t seem to be in the spirit with what was agreed [upon] and hopefully some common sense can prevail there too.’

‘Let’s hope we can all sit down and break bread and sort it out.’

Demetriou said the AFL was committed to honouring its five-year agreement with the TV networks, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of AFL Media covering games in the future.  

The AFL CEO’s comments also appear in the following news articles:

Update, April 3:

The Age has reported that the AFL is in talks with Seven and Foxtel to try and resolve the HD issue.

“ Fox is also angry that its feed from Seven is not in HD. The pay television provider had spruiked that all nine matches it showed – including five of its own – would be in HD.

It’s understood Seven’s Melbourne boss, Lewis Martin, and AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan, have discussed the problem.

“We’re always working with the AFL towards the best outcomes for all fans and this is part of our daily discussions,” a Seven spokesman said.

Fox executives have refused to comment publicly, but privately question Seven’s motives. “

Update, April 4:

I have created a Hitler parody video to highlight the issues which have been raised in this blog post and also keep the issue in the public eye.  Please share it on Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, and email it to your friends.


Update, April 30:

Rohan Connolly’s article in The Age has received 100,000+ views, 400+ comments including 70 mentions of the HD issue: C’mon Seven, get with the program.

Industry insiders say that Channel 7 is using HD cameras and HD outside broadcast production trucks for their AFL games, yet only providing Foxtel with a SD feed.  It feels like Channel 7 is snubbing AFL fans by holding back the higher quality HD feed.

The HD issue has been a topic for discussion in the media including radio (Triple M, SEN), print (The Age, SMH), TV (Footy Classified) and there is substantial unrest about the HD issue from AFL fans online, here are a few forums discussing the issue:

What is the difference between native HD and upscaled SD? Here’s a short video which shows the difference between native HD and upscaled SD:

Update, May 16:

AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan sent me an email today in response to an email I wrote directly to him this morning.

In my 500 word email I expressed my congratulations to the AFL for the things which I thought the new TV broadcast deal did well including: live games, no ads siren-to-siren and 5 games per week in native HD.

I also expressed the AFL fan sentiment that poor quality upscaled SD vision is detrimental to the AFL code and all games should be in native HD to be on par with other sporting codes.

Gill’s email reply was simply:

” …

Josh

Thanks for your email, and understand all the issues

We continue to work on getting all games broadcast in HD, though it may take a while!!

Cheers

Gill

Gillon McLachlan
Chief Operating Officer
AFL HOUSE | 140 Harbour Esplanade | Docklands VIC 3008
GPO Box 1449 | Melbourne VIC 3001

… ”

Whilst I didn’t expect a reply at all, the positive is that the AFL has acknowledged an understanding of the HD issue.  However, the negative view is that there seems to be no timeframe to resolve the issue.

Here’s hoping we at least get the AFL Grand Final in native HD this year!

Update, Sep 14:

Sign the petition for Andrew Demetriou, AFL CEO: AFL must instruct Channel 7 to show the 2012 AFL Grand Final in native HD

Update, Sep 21:

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has slapped Foxtel for their potentially misleading marketing of AFL games in HD.

 

What can unhappy AFL fans do?  

Update: Given the ACCC has slapped Foxtel it’s best to focus attention on Channel 7 and the AFL.

1. Complain to Foxtel

2. Cancel your Foxtel subscription

3. Complain to Channel 7

4. Complain to the AFL

5. Complain to the ACCC (e.g. if you believe you have been misled by Foxtel)

6. Tell your friends about the issue on Facebook

7. Tweet about it, mention @foxfooty @7netsport @afl @AFLinHDpls

8. Blog about it

9. Share the Hitler parody video on Facebooktweet it on Twitter, or email it to your friends

10. Tell journalists you’re not happy about it

 

19 Responses to Fans outraged at FoxFooty’s AFL SD broadcast

  1. Peter Morris says:

    Love it Josh. It doesn’t even affect me but I’m sick of nonsense like this. Will spread the word!

  2. Adam says:

    I emailed foxtel. I also tweeted the AFL and Foxtel. Seven don’t care in the first place so I didn’t bother tweeting them!

  3. Jordan Henderson says:

    Josh,

    It seems that the only person upset by this is you. Do you have proof of fans being upset? How many? This is just sensationalist nonsense.

  4. Matt O'Brien says:

    It’s obvious “Jordan Henderson” has never seen sport in full HD and is still flicking channels on his tube tv. He might still be listening to tapes in his car. This is not sensationalist in any way, it’s like advertising that a car has 6 cylinders and then you find after purchasing it that it has 4.
    If this continues, particularly with Friday night games, there will be a groundswell of pissed off people. It’s time the AFL got real about becoming world class in their coverage. Live and in full HD should be absolute, no excuse non negotiables. Keep plugging away Josh.

  5. Derek says:

    Let me get this right: according to afl.com Seven will televise four matches per round, therefore four matches per round will only be in (Seven’s) upconverted mess of an excuse for ‘stunning HD’ on Fox Footy HD?

    If this is so…goodbye Foxtel HD.

  6. Geremy says:

    Good work Josh, I don’t have Foxtel but was considering taking the plunge based on the fact they broadcast in Full HD. Now I’m not so sure. Thanks for raising the red flag.

  7. Yak says:

    Great work making a song and dance about this Josh, make sure it’s in everyone’s faces. The coverage was disgraceful – I kept waiting for Plugga to lead out from full forward the footage looked that dated! There was no difference whatsoever between channel 7 and Fox Footy. If the original source is in SD there’s no way you can get anywhere near full-HD quality no matter how much upscaling you do (putting icing on a turd doesn’t make it a cake). AFL’s supposedly the biggest sport in the country, meanwhile the A-League’s in HD and we get served up this tripe. Not impressed.

  8. Andrew says:

    Don’t forget that Buddy Beauty foxtel ad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHZRgpxY5dE ,where Gerard Healy claims “every game” in “BRILLIANT HD”…Nothing “brilliant” about Saturdays SD upscaled picture.

  9. JE says:

    ROFL @ “I kept waiting for Plugga to lead out from full forward the footage looked that dated!”

    More like Malcolm Blight!

    What about the sound on Foxtel for one of the NAB cup games – It kept cutting in for a millisecond and then dropped again continually for the whole game. Incredibly annoying.

    VERY disapointing start Foxtel, especially, as Josh points out, continually RAMMING your advertising down our throats about “footy being covered like never before”.

    Well, you sort of got that part right in a way I guess…….!?

  10. JE says:

    Maybe they’d like to cover this one on “On the Couch”.

    ….didn’t think so.

  11. David says:

    Good ol channel 7 hey ? Maybe they aren’t broadcasting the games in HD so fox footy don’t get a advantage. Just like with the commentary. 7′s commentators have been told not to comment after a goal has been given. At least when it is a fox game, you can expect global television to broadcast the game in HD.

  12. Matt says:

    “I emailed foxtel. I also tweeted the AFL and Foxtel. Seven don’t care in the first place so I didn’t bother tweeting them”

    Well there’s your problem. There’s nothing foxtel can do. You should be taking it up with channel 7.

  13. jenna says:

    Sooo.. what’s your beef with Fox Footy? It’s fairly clear it’s Ch 7 who need to get with the times. More than likely sabotaging the feed for Fox Footy.Why are you blaming FOXTEL’s channel Fox footy when it’s 7 who you should be directing your whinging to. Fox Footy are still delivering more games than ever before.

  14. Josh Rowe says:

    Jenna, FoxFooty promised 9 “brilliant” and “stunning” “HD” games every round.

    If Foxtel didn’t contract this properly with Channel 7 to provide true HD quality broadcasts then that is Foxtel’s problem to resolve.

    Foxtel should either deliver what they promised or correct the way they describe their broadcast quality so that AFL fans are not misled.

  15. steve salisbury says:

    Thanks heaps josh,I was ready to open an account with them but not now.This is what happens when you deal with a company that has a monopoly over pay tv rights in australia.They can then say and do what they like whenever they like.I rung foxtel just before to pretend that i wanted to sign up for fox footy,the guy who answered my call stated emphatically that all games would be broadcast in true hd quality.I asked him to check with his manager if this was correct,he came back and said that all channel seven games are only upscaled sd.This company is blatantly ripping us customers off.could you let us all know via your blog how this all plays out with foxtel. Thanks steve Salisbury

  16. Stephen Brown says:

    I too am absolutely spewing about this. I only had Foxtel put on so that I could watch in HD. Now I only get 5 Carlton games for the whole season in HD as nearly all their games are produced by Seven. Even in today’s paper in Adelaide they are advertising tonight’s game in “Stunning HD”. I’ve rung Foxtel, and laid a complaint. Wonder what will happen. I will be cancelling my subscription, absolute waste of money and blatant false advertising. Even whilst on hold to Foxtel the recorded message said all games in HD! How can they get away with this. Ringing ACC next, will they do something, they seem to be all over Apple and 4G iPad, and that isn’t even as big as this issue in my opinion.

  17. Brad says:

    Keep up the good work Josh!!

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