On the eve of a new AFL Football season, the Seven Network has confirmed it will not be moving its main channel into High Definition anytime soon.
Seven’s Chief Digital Officer Clive Dickens’ confirming to DeciderTV that the network has “no current plans” to launch Seven’s main channel in HD. With the ABC confirmed to be switching on High Def in June, Seven will soon be the only network not providing its main channel in HD.
The decision means many of the big events from this years Rio Olympics will likely only be broadcast in standard definition, it also means Free-to-Air football fans in Victoria and South Australia will once again miss out on viewing the AFL in HD, although viewers in NSW, QLD and WA will enjoy the improved picture quality on 7Mate. The network simulcast last year's AFL Grand Final on Seven and 7Mate last year, however that strategy will not continue this season.
While some within Seven had been pushing hard for the network to make the switch earlier this year, the network eventually came to the mindset that providing HD and SD versions of it’s main channel was an inefficient use of spectrum.
After changes were made to legislation late last year, FTA networks are no longer required to provide an SD version of their main channel, however so far no network has taken this option due to fears the lack of SD could restrict some viewers access to their content.
Seven has been looking to build its overall audience share by expanded its channel offerings with the recent launches of niche products Racing.com and 7Flix.
It’s a strategy the network wants to expand upon by using its remaining limited spectrum to launch more SD multi-channels over the next year. These channels potentially could be used to deliver more Rio Olympic content to viewers this August, including a channel focused on women's team events. Seven has also expressed an interest in providing other broadcast services including foreign language content, Kids shows, and lifestyle programming.
Seven’s coverage of the Rio Olympics will be the biggest the network has ever conducted with events to be broadcast on Seven, 7TWO and 7mate. Seven will also produce a number of online Video On Demand streaming channels with up to 36 live sports streams occurring on peak events days. The network is promising to provide Australian viewers over 5000 hours of streamed live vision from Rio.