The Seven Network today announced they will launch a ‘third’ channel on Digital TV in late September – Named ‘7mate’

According to the press release, republished at Mumbrella, the channel will commence with a broadcast of the AFL Grand Final in HD.

There’s a stack of content on offer – like “New episodes of FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD, PARKS AND RECREATION and LAST COMIC STANDING will lead the primetime comedy schedule. 3O ROCK, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, THAT 70’S SHOW, SCRUBS and CRANK YANKERS round out the laughs.” – however, what I find interesting is the decision once again to remove HD from the ‘main’ channel – just like the ABC has done

More programming details are below.It is not explicit in the press release, however my reading of it indicates that 7HD will be replaced by 7mate. ABC HD was replaced by ABC News 24 earlier this month. Ten replaced their HD channel with ONEHD.

The reason for this is not to offer more reason to choose the new channel – in fact, its to ensure they don’t lose audience.

Lets look at a breakdown of the Digital Spectrum for a Commercial TV Broadcaster. They have room for:

  • 1 x HD
  • 2 x SD

Currently, Seven offers:

  • HD: 7HD
  • SD: 7
  • SD: 7two

If they stacked their spectrum this way:

  • HD: 7HD
  • SD: 7mate
  • SD: 7two

They’d have one big problem – people who DON’T have a HD Set Top box or TV would NOT be able to watch 7’s normal lineup. Only 7mate and 7two.

Same applies for ABC and Ten – although Ten of all the networks has the best reason to offer it’s multi-channel as HD – given it’s sporting focus.

It is disappointing that the main programming content from our Commercial and ABC networks are not in HD – but it’s the way of life.

Until the government decides what to do with the Digital Spectrum, at which time there will likely be a ‘restacking’ and therefore a need to re-tune.

The OTHER issue bubbling away is that this is the limit of the channels that can be squeezed into the spectrum. As such, Broadcasters are desperate to move to MPEG-4 compression which would allow MORE HD to fit into the same space. Why not do that now? Hundreds of thousands of people don’t have MPEG-4 compatible set-top boxes – do you? Check!

If your box is ‘Freeview’ compatible, you’re safe into the future – keep that in mind!

The full 7mate offering according to the press release will be:

New episodes of FAMILY GUY, AMERICAN DAD, PARKS AND RECREATION and LAST COMIC STANDING will lead the primetime comedy schedule. 3O ROCK, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, THAT 70’S SHOW, SCRUBS and CRANK YANKERS round out the laughs. New drama will include the sci-fi series CAPRICA and the adventure series WAREHOUSE 13 and STARGATE ATLANTIS. The reality slate will feature US ratings hits JERSEY SHORE and PAWN STARS, along with popular MTV series PUNK’D and GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS, featuring the controversial KISS guitarist and his LA-based family, and MONSTER GARAGE with Jesse G. James. Factual on 7mate will see series such as FIFTH GEAR, THE UNIVERSE, LIFE AFTER PEOPLE, THE BONEYARD, AX MEN, JACKED: AUTO THEFT TASKFORCE, MEGA MOVERS, MEGA STRUCTURES, AIR CRASH INVESTIGATIONS and SHOCKWAVE in primetime. 7mate will also be the home for first-run big movies for the blokes, including THE RINGER, STRANGERS and PRIMEVAL.