Friday, 31 August 2012

Why I'm not recording the Paralympics

In case you're wondering why this is the first time I'm even mentioning the Paralympics, I should state here that I never intended to watch or record them and I'll explain my reasons for this.

Firstly, it may shock non-UK readers that the BBC, who did a pretty good job at broadcasting the main London 2012 Olympic Games, completely failed in their bidding for UK TV coverage of the Paralympics. Instead, the rights went to Channel 4, who - although they out-bid the BBC - are a much smaller broadcaster with far less sports broadcasting channels/facilities than the BBC.

So instead of some 30-odd BBC channels (all broadcast on Freesat and also Net-streamed - most of them in HD too) that we got for the main Olympics, we're down to something four for the Paralympics (Channel 4 HD plus it looks like 3 streamed - online only? - Paralympics channels). My suspicion is that Channel 4 HD will probably air a sport from one of the 3 streamed channels anyway, so if there's 4 or more sports on simultaneously, then obviously one or more can't be shown live.

Secondly - and I think this is atrocious for a major UK sporting event shown live in the UK - Channel 4 is a commercial channel that airs 3-4 advert breaks per hour. I think some of the live sport, with its potential to overrun, is not suitable for ad breaks because of the risk of missing some of the action. It was also a particular problem for the Paralympics Opening Ceremony which drew a lot of criticism from viewers because of the inevitable number of ad breaks that missed parts of the ceremony (since they weren't going to stop the ceremony cos of ad breaks!).

So to sum up - we've moved from something like 27 HD broadcast BBC channels for the main Olympics to just one (Channel 4 HD) for the Paralympics. That single channel is festooned with ad breaks that may miss out on some action and can be handled in its entirety by any HD hard disk recorder on the market, which is in no way the "recording challenge" that I had for the main Olympics. So to me, the Paralympics have sadly become a TV non-event and I won't be watching or recording them.

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