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The Full HD quality of the struggling Nine Network’s coverage of the upcoming London Olympics has been challenged by Foxtel. In a move that could strip viewers away from the free to air network, Foxtel is set to give away free access to their Olympic coverage.Earlier today at the Astra conference, Foxtel announced that they will deliver 8 channels of coverage of the Olympics for tablets and smartphones with new applications being developed that allows all events to be delivered live for consumers who subscribe to their service.

The TV company’s chief executive Richard Freudenstein said viewers will be able to watch eight dedicated channels, 24 hours a day.

“We’re giving the Olympics away free to all our Foxtel subscribers. I think it’s really important to add value to our subscribers. Those sorts of things will really help grow our subscriber base” Mr Freudenstein said.

He said that the move will enable the pay TV company to tap into niche audiences by showing periphery events outside of the more popular tent pole events.

What is shaping up as fight over whether free to air networks have been “hoodwinking” viewers as a comparison of Nine’s Full HD with that of Foxtel revealing a difference, with the latter delivering superior sound and superior picture quality.

The Nine Network has not responded to a SmartHouse request for comment on the issue.

Freudenstein said “The Olympics are a big step forward for this industry. What we’re doing with the Olympics is something only subscription television can do with eight channels 24 hours a day in high definition. We will be able to appeal to different niche audiences. It gives people the opportunity to think differently about Foxtel.

He said that Foxtel will also deliver a catch up service for iPads and tablets that delivers “customers more portability and value for their subscriptions.”

In an effort to communicate that Foxtel is innovative he took a direct shot at Motorola and Kodak.

He said Motorola who were #1 in Australia with their Razr phone slipped spots because they failed to “innovate”.

He said that despite Kodak inventing the digital camera they have failed to make it in the market and are now facing bankruptcy because they stayed too long in the film business. 

He said Motorola and Kodak were examples of technology innovators beloved by consumers and seemingly invincible, which failed to keep pace due to a lack of innovation.

 

“In our business it all comes back to what you put on the screen,” he said. “What we will do more of is international first run programs of the highest quality, but only really subscription television can do that really high end stuff that makes a big difference to the viewing experience.
 
“HD is something we’ve always been an innovator in. I see it as key differentiator against our free to air IPTV competitors. A large number of Australians have flat screen TVs but most of them don’t know about our HD channels.”

 Len Wallis of Len Wallis Audio in Sydney said that he agrees with Freudenstein, saying “Consumers don’t have a clue as to what is Full and HD and what isn’t”.

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