London Olympics viewing, listening guide

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Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.

The starting grid of the 2012 London Olympics is within sight, so it's time to begin planning one's viewing, eating and sleeping schedule, and CNET Australia's here to help.

The games officially kick off with the opening ceremony at 6am AEST on Saturday, 28 July. Competitive events will start at around 6pm AEST that night, although a number of football pool matches are scheduled for 25 July and onwards.

Naturally, we'll update this guide when more information becomes available.

Free-to-air TV

With the Olympics on the anti-siphoning list, free-to-air television coverage is pretty much guaranteed. For the XXX Olympiad, the Nine Network and its regional affiliates (NBN, WIN and Imparja) have sole free-to-air rights, and exclusive coverage of both the opening and closing ceremonies.

The network is promising 14.5 hours of live coverage on its primary analog and digital channels starting at 6.30pm every night, and flowing through to around 9am the next morning. A highlights package will then air from 9am to 11am, and will be repeated at 4pm that afternoon.

Given Australian television's poor recent record on HD broadcasts, it's heartening to learn that Nine's Olympics coverage will be simulcast in HD on Gem. We've got our fingers crossed that the Gem stream will be in native HD, not up-scaled.

The Federal Government has also approved an application by Nine to broadcast the Olympics on a dedicated 3D channel. The channel will only be available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and the Gold Coast — channel numbers have yet to be confirmed, and viewers may have to rescan to access the 3D channel.

Overseas viewers will be able to see the men's 100m final live in 3D, as well as a daily highlights package, including both the opening and closing ceremonies. In Australia, though, the 3D experience will consist entirely of highlights that air on the dedicated 3D channel from 11am to 4pm.

Unlike the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where certain matches were broadcasted live in 3D, there's no chance of tuning into an alternative commentary stream — unless, of course, you pay for Foxtel.

Pay TV

For the two previous Olympics (Beijing in 2008 and Athens in 2004), the Seven Network partnered with SBS to provide coverage. Under this arrangement, Seven provided the usual free-to-air Olympics broadcast — live coverage of popular events, chopping and changing between events and highlights as necessary — while SBS covered a select range of long-form sports, such as football and cycling, in their entirety.

This time around, there's no secondary free-to-air channel; instead, Nine's partner is Foxtel, which is planning to provide comprehensive coverage of the Olympics via eight dedicated channels. Each channel will be available in both SD and HD formats, although you'll need to have a Foxtel HD subscription to see the latter.

In a fit of corporate benevolence, the suite of Olympics channels is free for anyone with access to Foxtel's selection of sport channels. As detailed in the table below, the eight London Olympics channels are dedicated to particular range of sports, although Foxtel does caution that certain events may appear on other channels if there are delays or scheduling conflicts.

London 1 Swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo
London 2 Cycling (track, BMX, mountain bike, road)
London 3 Gymnastics (artistic, rhythmic, trampoline)
London 4 Athletics (track)
London 5 Athletics (field)
London 6 Equestrian (jumping, eventing, dressage), fencing, table tennis
London 7 Rowing, canoeing (sprint, slalom)
London 8 Beach volleyball, sailing, football, hockey, weightlifting

Foxtel is promising to show every gold-medal event live, with coverage beginning on 25 July AEST, as there are 14 football pool matches scheduled prior to the opening ceremony.


Foxtel is also making all eight Olympic channels available via its IPTV services for a one-off $50 fee. You need to pay $19.50 for a one-month basic package on either the Xbox 360 or a Samsung Smart TV and then add a one-off $50 payment for access to the Olympic channels.

The Xbox 360 version gives access to the channels as a set of standard channel options. The Samsung Smart TV version will let you view all eight channels at once, or watch one feed side-by-side with a view of the medal tally board.


If you're in the car or working the late shift, watching the TV mightn't be entirely advisable. Depending on your tastes and where you live, you can choose between either the ABC's coverage or a commercial broadcaster's.

For fans of Ray Hadley, Alan Jones and company, 2GB in Sydney owns the commercial radio rights to the London Olympics. This coverage will be shared with Fairfax radio stations outside of Sydney, including Melbourne's 3AW, Brisbane's 4BC and 6PR in Perth. This broadcast will also be heard on 60 stations throughout regional Australia.

If the commercial Olympics broadcast isn't to your fancy or available in your area, there's always the ABC. The national broadcaster will air live coverage every day, beginning at 5.30pm AEST on its analog local radio network, as well as on a dedicated digital radio station, ABC Games.

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PennyB1 posted a comment   

Silver too is great!!! Reporters get over it!!


SandraA posted a comment   

I am so upset with yr olympic coverage. Every other olympic coverage has kepted us up to date with live viewing on events daily. But all we are getting is repeats and you havent even showed a medal presentation for us to get teary and proud of the Australians who achieve and win one. What happened to lead up events and the complete coverage of whats happening every day . Forget shows like Ellen and so on. The olympics is only on for 2 weeks , surely we can watch most of the olympic events all day and night. Very unhappy


RobertG3 posted a comment   

ONE channel showing little snippets of what THEY think we might want to watch. Channel nine i'm sorry but your coverage is DISMAL. Eight channels on fox six in th UK. And for the commentary, they are all shocking- Carl and Eddy have been the worst so far. I wish I could enjoy this great event from my own home looks like i'll need to pay the bucks for cable if I want that!


ScottA3 posted a comment   

I'd quit crowing about how well your doing Channel 9!

BBC in the UK (free to air) has 6 digital channels with a choice of 6 red button views per channel! Thats 24 digital HD LIVE sports broadcasts to choose from 24x7.

Somone needs to explain to Channel 9 what DIGITAL TV is supposed to be. Not the mickey mouse setup they are offering.

It would be really nice to actually sit down and watch an event, rather that flipping backwards and fowards between events and not actually being able to watch any completely!

With the broadcasting technology available today this coverage is pathetic.


WilliamB5 posted a comment   

rf channel 35 is the 3d channel went live on monday will be digital channel 95


smarttrams posted a comment   

there will be 3D channels for London Olympic?
Awesome, I was just wondering whether to buy a LG 3D TV since they are giving away cash packs.


weinndine posted a reply   

Do it bro, I actually happen to own a set and I don't think I'm gonna need to pay for those 3D channels because the conversion feature on LG is pretty sweet


smarttrams posted a reply   

Thanks, I will buy LG55LM9600 on thegoodguys, they are offering some cash events but I missed the 3D openning ceremony but oh well. Will try the conversion you said.


weinndine posted a reply   

Good choice. They now support 3D game apps too, like the ones that are pretty popular in smart phones so you should definitely download some games on yours when you get it


KeithK posted a comment   

Which of the eight channels will be broadcasting Basketball? Thanks for the article.

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