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.”
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?
“ 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:
- A television tiff over the vision thing – The Age
- AFL to intervene the rift between Channel 7 and Fox Footy – Hearld Sun
- AFL to fix awkward Fox Footy silence – SportsNewsFirst
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:
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!!
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:
Update, Sep 21:
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.
2. Cancel your Foxtel subscription
5. Complain to the ACCC (e.g. if you believe you have been misled by Foxtel)
8. Blog about it
10. Tell journalists you’re not happy about it
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