ITV HD Viewers Shortchanged In England Vs USA World Cup Broadcast

Vincent Teoh

ITV HD committed a blunder as embarrassing as England goalkeeper Robert Green’s mistake which led to USA’s equalising goal in the England vs USA Group C World Cup match, leaving thousands of UK viewers at home and in pubs fuming.

Barely 3 minutes into the match, ITV HD inexplicably cut to a Hyundai advertisement as Glen Johnson shaped up to take a throw-in on the right byline. By the time transmission had cut back to the football pitch, Steven Gerrard and his teammates were already celebrating England’s opening goal.

Transmissions on ITV 1 (standard-def) and ITV Player were not interrupted by the ad break, which meant that ITV HD viewers — ironically — were the only group who had missed England’s first goal in FIFA World Cup 2010 on live TV.

ITV presenter Adrian Chiles issued a statement at half time: “Apologies for those watching in HD, I believe there was some interruption in your coverage.” Since this is unlikely to appease the shortchanged viewers, expect a more grovelling apology from ITV’s senior executives to follow.

This is not the first time ITV has made a gaffe of this nature: in a FA Cup 4th round replay last year (a high-profile Merseyside derby no less), the broadcaster screened a Tic-tac advert during the 28th-minute of extra time, thus ensuring that million of viewers totally missed Everton’s winner against Liverpool.

ITV HD? More Like Upscaled SD

To add insult to injury, this evening ITV HD viewers had to endure the majority of England’s clash against USA in upscaled SD instead of in glorious true HD.

This was certainly not the case at the start of the broadcast. The detail in the picture on screen was pin-sharp: one could easily make out the words on the pitch-side advertisements, and the individual figures in the supporting crowd. And when England scored after 4 minutes, things were looking very promising indeed.

However, at around 7:38pm (i.e. less than 10 minutes into the match), the original HD broadcast on the ITV HD channel flicked abruptly to a fuzzier image, which was clearly an upscaled SD feed. At about 7:58pm the HD feed was restored, but this lasted for less than 15 minutes, as at 8:10pm the blurrier upscaled SD feed returned (and persisted for the remainder of the live broadcast).

And at 8:11pm, USA scored following Robert Green’s goalkeeping howler. Oh well, at least ITV HD viewers didn’t get to see it live in high-definition.