And the winner is … Not Us

Whoever wins the US election, it won’t be Kiwi viewers, especially Sky subscribers.

Throughout one of the most exciting and meaningful elections in US history, Sky has continued to provide only sub-standard definition feeds of its cable news channels.

It’s appalling that Sky still refuses to offer significant HD access beyond its sports and movie channels when an event of this importance is riveting the world.

Anyone who compared the video quality of the presidential debates carried on Sky’s news services with the HD online streams from sources like ABC on Apple TV will know the night-and-day difference it makes to not only observing politicians and pundits but also comprehending on-screen data and graphics.

At a time when Sky’s offering is under siege from online alternatives, the paycaster should be capitalising on opportunities like this particularly brutal White House race to convince subscribers that cutting the cord will compromise their viewing choices rather than enhance them.

TVNZ and TV3 at least will provide HD footage with their belated live coverage, which screens from 4.30 on TVNZ 1 and 5.00 on TV3.

But that pales in comparison when you see what European and Australian free-to-air broadcasters are offering their viewers, with the latter’s live coverage starting midday NZ time.

As one Aussie scribe put it: “Forget the State of Origin, My Kitchen Rules finale or running of the Melbourne Cup — this year’s must-see television event is the US Election outcome on Wednesday.”

“The outcome’s still up in the air, but one thing’s certain: There’s no shortage of options for you to monitor the Election Night results as they come in, from the comfort of your own living room,” TV Guide says.

“Based on ratings for the three presidential debates, some analysts are expecting this year’s Election Night coverage to be the most-watched ever and break the current record of 71.5 million people who tuned in to see President Obama beat Sen. John McCain in 2008.”

All of which means the election’s biggest winners are the cable news networks basking in record ratings and $2 billion in ad revenues.

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