If you had hoped, foolishly, that you might support the All Blacks while watching the Rugby World Cup final live on Channel 9 in HD this weekend, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. The network has decided to ditch the live HD broadcast on GEM in favour of – wait for it – Antiques Roadshow.
There had been a short-lived glimmer of hope for rugby fans last week, when the network not only broadcast the semi-finals live, but also broadcast them in HD on GEM at the same time. That strategy was short-lived, however, with the digital channel getting Antiques Roadshow and British sitcom As Time Goes By instead of the final of one of the world’s largest international sporting events.
This is just the latest infringement on sports fans by the free-to-air networks. Matches are consistently interrupted for ad-breaks, running longer than the breaks in play and forcing viewers to miss crucial moments of the game on the rare occasion the game is broadcast live.
If the match is delayed (heaven forbid reality TV gets rescheduled), finding the time it’s actually played is nigh on impossible, with networks flip-flopping between times and channels.
And while Channel Nine is the worst offender, the other FTA networks are also guilty of taking liberties with our sports mad country.
The problem is that realistically, there’s nothing we can do about it. The rights for sporting events are worth a lot of money to TV networks – they get paid to squeeze in those annoying ad breaks every time play stops. If the network doesn’t think they can make money from those ad breaks, it’s still worth more to them to own the rights to the broadcast and not show it, rather than letting one of the other stations play it.
If you do want to watch the Rugby final in HD this weekend, Fox Sports HD will be broadcasting live. If you don’t have Foxtel, you could try Foxtel on Xbox, or find a nice little pub playing the game on Sunday at 6:30pm.
And if you’ve ever been frustrated by the way TV networks treat sports in Australia, let us know in comments below.