Sports free-for-all? Not any more!

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OneHD – Channel Ten’s 24-hour digital sporting station – will bite the dust on May 7. It will be “relaunched” the following day as a “general entertainment” network between Monday and Friday, with sporting events confined to the weekend.

Or so said the Sydney Morning Herald on April 7. Lachie Murdoch, Ten Network boss, described OneHD as a ratings “dead end”, as if only three Australians were ever watching it at any one time.

It is a sad period for free-to-air sports fans in Australia. Just when we’re starting to reap the reward of extra digital arms from the main commercial networks and Ten is lauded for being innovative enough to stick their necks out for OneHD in the first place, it gets pulled. For a lack of ratings. Pah!

I’m a sports fan who loves the option of OneHD. I don’t have the time or inclination (due to lifestyle factors, work and parenting duties!) to sit there 24/7, but there have definitely been some great aspects of the network.

The National Basketball League’s revamped season has been a huge success with Steve Carfino and Andrew Gaze calling the shots at the microphone around the country, while those keen for an American sporting fix can get the Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association matches every week.

There are two guaranteed English Premier League games a week, along with the German and Italian leagues. Plus the international two-wheel and four-wheel motor racing calendars. And the netball. Brilliant! Why get rid of the stuff?

It’s a short-sighted decision based on dollar signs rather than devotion – as is often the case these days in the sporting world.

Murdoch’s exact words at the announcement were: “One was underperforming from a ratings point of view – rating below a single share point was simply unsustainable and unable to contribute to our earnings.” Says it all, really.

However, regardless of what the Ten executives might think, there are loads of people out there that do not have Foxtel and loved the fact that OneHD existed. I know I’m one of them.

RIP OneHD as we know it, sports fans. Gone too soon after just two years. You will be greatly missed, and fondly remembered.

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