What will viewers get for their money if they sign up for an Olympics
package on pay TV? Michael Idato finds out.
The first details of pay TV coverage of the Sydney Olympics have been
unveiled, as cable and satellite providers prepare to launch a saturation
marketing campaign to recruit customers.
In addition to the Seven Network's 16-day continuous free-to-air coverage of
major events, Seven's pay-TV sports operation, C7, will provide two additional
channels, available to Foxtel, Austar and Optus subscribers.
C7 Sport's general manager, Steve Crawley, describes it as the equivalent of
"the ticket you couldn't get". For customers, it's the ticket you have to put
faith in, as it's sold on a pay-now, find-out-the-schedule-later basis.
(Depending on when you sign up, the double-channel package costs between $55 and
Pay TV will screen almost 800 hours of continuous coverage of the Games, on
two channels: an Australia-centric channel called C7 Olympics, and an
international team channel called C7 Games.
"C7 Olympics will focus on Australian individuals and teams," Crawley says,
"while C7 Games will give this country some credit for having taste beyond our
shores." C7 will offer "uninterrupted coverage of total sports", he adds. "A lot
of people don't like being swapped around events, and we will try as much as
possible to live by our schedule. There was a great line used once on the racing
station 2KY, which was: 'War has broken out in the Falklands, and now we're
going to cross to the first race at Moe.'"
While Seven's free-to-air coverage will be steered by well-known Olympians,
popular events and packages of highlights, Crawley says C7 will veer more
towards full coverage of less mainstream sports.
"We're at the equestrian for six hours straight; we don't leave it. The
cycling is the same. We will screen whole field events which people have never
seen before. It's a long story to tell, and we can tell it."
Although C7 scheduled a 16-day broadcast, Crawley admits that only the first
week is firm. "The first week you could take as 99 per cent what we're doing. We
have our 24-hour plan for the second week, but there will be sensations; you
don't know who the stars are going to be. The majority of people want to watch
every swimming heat, but while that swimming is on, so too are the Hockyroos,
the Boomers, Brazil v Italy and the Dream Team.
"Not everyone is going to watch C7 all day, but I know the guy who loves his
basketball is going to pick out the exact events he wants to watch."
Meanwhile, the US network NBC is pressing ahead with plans to Webcast some
highlights packages of the games, despite an IOC ban on Web streaming because of
fears it would violate existing TV contracts. NBC is adamant its Web site
streaming would be available only to broadband consumers in the US and would be
confined to small packages of highlights available on a 24-hour delay.
The Sydney Paralympics Organising Committee (SPOC), however, is planning
to use the Web for a more comprehensive coverage of its events. SPOC
negotiated television and Internet rights at the same time, with the
international Internet rights held by WeMedia.com. Some 30 television
broadcasters, including our own ABC, America's Fox and Britain's BBC will screen
highlights of the Paralympics.