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Free-to-air 24/7 sport comes late March

Ten's 24-hour sports channel, ONE, will begin broadcasting in metropolitan areas on 26 March, while rural areas will have to wait a little longer.

Ten's 24-hour sports channel, ONE, will begin broadcasting in metropolitan areas on 26 March, while rural areas will have to wait a little longer.

Move over Ten HD, 24/7 sport is here to stay. (Credit: Network Ten)

In the move, the existing Ten HD will become ONE HD, while ONE will be simulcast in standard definition on channel 12. Ten SD will remain as is.

The service kicks off with the round one AFL clash between Richmond and Carlton at 7.30pm, and the match will be broadcasted simultaneously on ONE and Ten.

In a not-so-coincidental move, the launch weekend also coincides with the Formula 1 ING Australian Grand Prix, and ONE will broadcast 22 hours of coverage from Friday through to Sunday.

Network Ten's general manager for sport, David White, said he was excited about the opportunities the channel offered viewers.

"We know our opening weekend will give viewers a sensational introduction to ONE, and mark the beginning of a lifetime's habit of essential sports viewing," White said.

A spokesperson for Southern Cross Broadcasting, which retransmits Network Ten in rural areas, said ONE would also be coming "as is" to rural viewers but sometime later in 2009.

Ongoing ONE content will include extended versions of new and locally produced Sports Tonight shows, in addition to coverage of AFL, motor sport (Formula 1, Moto GP, NASCAR), netball, cricket, swimming, golf, NFL, NBA Major League Baseball, and NCAA College Basketball and Football.

Ten's announcement is the first of several expected to coincide with the launch of the Freeview service.