On June 12 2010 itv Sport showed England opening World Cup clash live on their HD (high definition) channel. Millions of UK citizens had specially purchased HD ready TVs before the World Cup and as the cracked open their first can of beer and settled into their chair to watch itv scored an almost almighty own goal. A far bigger crime than the howler that England keeper Robert Green committed when he allowed the ball to slip through his hands allowing USA to equalize just four minutes before half time.
What unfolded was the most bizarre timing imaginable. The game had started OK and with around 5 minutes into the game England had a throw in and Emile Heskey collected the ball and his pinpoint pass was threaded through to the advancing Steven Gerrard who slide ruled the ball passed USA keeper Tim Howard and into the back of the net.
The problem that unfolded was that at the point of the throw in, perhaps just less than 30 seconds before the goal itv HD broadcast was terminated and an advertisement for Hyundai Cars was shown in full before another short pause when the itv HD logo was shown then a blank picture what unfolded next was a return to the live action and we were greeted with a very happy Steven Gerrard being congratulated by his team mates and a disconsolate USA side waiting to kick off from the goal. The score display in the corner had instantly told us that it was indeed 1-0 to England. There were no further interruptions and apparently viewers on normal (non high def TV) broadcast were not subjected to the same interruption of live broadcast.
It’s not the first time itv have made such an untimely blunder; the channel missed Everton’s extra-time winner in an FA Cup game last year against their fierce rivals Liverpool.
ITV also botched coverage of the San Marino Grand Prix, in 2005. An once again a cursed ad break interrupted a thrilling finish with just 3 laps to go and 126 angry viewers complained.
However with the ITV HD missed goal fiasco, we are all left wondering if viewers will lose faith in the ability of ITV to run successful sport coverage without adverts ruining the experience.