There’s no doubt that the BBC has pulled out all the stops with regards to its Olympics coverage, but I think Freeview red button customers are missing out.
Last weekend my husband and I were at my brother-in-law’s house. He’s been well and truly bitten by the Olympic bug and was showing off how, via the red button, he could choose from a slew of sporting events.
Excited, my husband raced home and clicked our own red button. It presented us with a measly choice of three events – one of which was already showing on BBC Three.
Maybe we needed to retune, as per the message that had flashed up earlier this month? We tried, but it made no difference.
Red button limited on Freeview
So I turned to the web for answers and soon found we weren’t alone in feeling short-changed. Website Shetlink, for example, has a forum discussing this where member Radiohead had posted the following message:
‘There is only limited access to Olympic venues on Freeview (aerial). On the other hand there are 24 special Olympic channels on Freesat in both standard digital & HD and of course on Sky… So much for the digital switchover on Freeview (aerial) that cost us licence payers £600 million!!’
On further investigation, I discovered a possible explanation in a blog post about sport coverage via the red button, which explains that the BBC will begin to broadcast sporting events in HD.
Good news for sports fans but – as I discovered – bad news for Freeview customers. The post explains that in order to do this there will be ‘a reduction in the amount of capacity on Freeview for our interactive services’.
Whereas previously the BBC has provided two additional video streams on the red button, ‘With the arrival of HD, one of those red button streams will be going from Freeview, so unfortunately this will limit the number of choices we can offer,’ says the BBC’s blog.
Cable and Freesat viewers unaffected
The changes only apply to Freeview and not to cable or Freesat, which explains the breadth of choice available to my brother-in-law who is a Virgin cable customer.
To compensate, Auntie Beeb explains, it will be moving more sports coverage online and offering extra coverage on other digital channels such as BBC Three. That’s OK then? Isn’t it?
Actually, it’s not. I agree with others online who argue that as a TV Licence payer I should be able to get access to the same coverage as anyone else.
Not to mention the fact that on its homepage Freeview’s website boasts that ‘The best bits of telly are free for everyone and free forever’. Is it now the case we only get the best bits if we’re prepared to pay?
What do you think? Is the red button delivering a gold service for you or has it failed to make it through the heats?