Ten move irks motor racing fans and sponsors
THE Ten Network is at loggerheads with some sponsors and could be forced into reinstating live Formula One and MotoGP broadcasts to its digital channel One HD after a wave of fan anger.
Sponsors have raised concerns that markets, including Adelaide and Perth, where emerging F1 star Daniel Ricciardo's parents live, will be forced to view delayed telecasts because Ten has switched coverage to its main channel.
Unlike One, Ten broadcasts only in standard definition, after previously promoting the 2012 Formula One season as being "Live and in HD".
According to some advertisers, motorsport would be confined to Ten at 9.30pm on Sundays.
Hundreds of diehard fans have taken to social media, vowing to pirate race feeds online, using overseas file-sharing services.
Ten said last week that the move had been made for commercial reasons, but by Friday the network was refusing to comment further as the furore grew.
A Ten spokesman said advertisers were told weeks ago about the shift, but sponsors denied this.
According to one of the broadcast's biggest sponsors, Swisse Vitamins, which also supports Formula One driver Mark Webber, it was not aware of the move until contacted by Media on Friday.
"Swisse contacted Network Ten when we received a call from The Australian," a spokesman for the company said.
"We have been informed that it is only live on the east coast at this stage but that the network is looking at all options."
Shannon's Car Insurance, a division of Suncorp Metway, also denied it had been told several weeks ago, saying it had been contacted by Ten earlier last week.
"We have already passed on the concerns expressed by some enthusiasts directly to Channel Ten and will continue to review the situation, as we do with any sponsorship," Shannon executive manager of marketing Mark Behr said.
More than 650 people flooded Ten's Facebook page with complaints about the move, many threatening to use pirated live feeds of races from overseas.
Motorsport forums, and even Ten's Facebook page, have since been alive with viewers trading advice on how to source live F1 feeds on the internet.
TV networks are under increasing pressure over live and HD sport, with Rugby League fans attacking channel Nine on Friday for showing a delayed telecast of the Anzac Test match between Australia and New Zealand.
Ten has experienced a similar backlash from MotoGP fans.
Some angry fans called for F1 and MotoGP advertisers to boycott Ten and an online "boycott Ten" website is quickly gaining hundreds of signatures.
The network made the call to move the live broadcasts from its HD network to the main channel at 9.30pm on Sundays in a bid to boost audiences on its "Super Sunday" nights.