Ashes to Ashes
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HD - finally

Well, better late than never, I suppose.

Cable TV have finally launched a (very limited) High Definition service, and football seems to be the main reason behind it.  Although they lost the English Premier League rights to Now TV, they now have the Champions League to add to the Europa League (previously the UEFA Cup) and are making the best of this by setting up an HD channel.  Of course they also have the rights to the next World Cup, and that will now be available in HD, but presumably without the on-demand service that Now had for the European Championships last summer.

The only other channel on offer seems to be ASN, a US sports channel that is also available (in HD) on Now TV.  No word on whether Discovery HD or National Geographic HD might be available at some stage.

Presumably Cable TV have hopes of winning back the EPL rights - the new deal will be be effective from the start of next season, and bidding must be due to start soon - and having HD could help. 

Interestingly, the EPL have apparently decided that it was a mistake to sell the Chinese rights exclusively to a pay-tv channel, and are re-thinking their approach for the next contract - but they probably feel that it isn't doing much harm in Hong Kong, so expect Now and Cable to be the main bidders, with the possibility that ESPN-Star Sports might join in as well.  Though I suppose they could insist that a highlights show would be available for terrestrial TV (as was the case many years ago, when TVB Pearl showed highlights from the previous week's games early on Saturday evening). 

In the UK, ESPN has just started its new channel (set up after Setanta collapsed) showing EPL games and other football.  Rather than really competing with Sky, they are co-operating with them as much as they are allowed - Sky actually produce the coverage for them, as well as offering the new channel alongside their own package.  This is the type of 'competition' with which we are very familiar in Hong Kong.

Of course Disney (owners of ESPN) and News International (owners of Star TV and part owners of Sky) already operate ESPN-Star Sports as a joint venture in Asia.   


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Fed Up

Any word on who's showing the Spanish league this season? It starts tonight and there is no coverage advertised. It is typical of Cable that, just as more and more star names flock to Spain and even Rio Ferdinand says it could be the biggest league in Europe, they manage to drop it from their schedule. What a clueless bunch of morons they are.

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