Football broadcasting wars

2015-01-18 15:00

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New kid on the block Siyaya TV recently successful broadcasted the Bafana Bafana Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) warm-up match against Zambia at Orlando Stadium.

The broadcaster partnered with StarTimes, which replaced TopTV in October 2013, and roped in veteran former SABC stalwart Koos Radebe to commentate with Ponga Liwewe giving expert analysis.

The collaboration with StarTimes, which recently acquired rights to the German Bundesliga for South Africa, came about as Siyaya already owns TV rights to broadcast Bafana Bafana matches, but still does not have a satellite platform.

StarTimes, which broadcasts to 10 other African countries, has this platform as a result of their acquisition of TopTV assets.

According to Gary Rathbone, the broadcaster’s head of sport, these are Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, DRC and Congo Brazzaville.

The broadcast went “well without any hiccups” according to Siyaya TV deputy chairperson Kgosi Nyalala Pilane because “viewers were happy as despite putting the production plan [together] within 15 days, we didn’t have our live feed cut during the broadcast”.

While the SABC has been somewhat dismissive of Siyaya’s entry into the market, SuperSport acting CEO Brandon Foot told City Press that: “SuperSport welcomes competition and believes it will have a positive impact on the industry.”

Speaking about the loss of the Bundesliga rights to StarTimes, Foot said: “We did not conclude commercial terms with Bundesliga and decided to walk away.”

The battle for lucrative local and African football broadcast rights will continue this month with the 2015 Afcon that kicked off yesterday in Equatorial Guinea.

SuperSport and the SABC have been airing promos that they will be “showing all 32 matches live”.

The SABC notes that it is the “official broadcaster” and that the matches will be “live on four television channels and 19 radio stations”.

Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said buying the rights directly from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and being a public broadcaster makes the SABC an “official broadcaster”.

He indicated that only a few radio commentators had travelled to the event and most will rely on televised matches.

SuperSport notes that “Afcon will be live and in high definition across five DStv channels. With four language commentary options [English, isiZulu, Setswana and Portuguese] and expert analysis from one of football’s greatest winners.”

“Afcon is Africa’s showpiece football event and we are delighted to offer it on various channels and platforms,” said Foot.

SuperSport 4 will be a 24-hour channel dedicated to the tournament. The company’s current agreement with CAF for the Afcon runs until the 2016/17 season.

Meanwhile, Siyaya’s director Aubrey Tau told City Press this week that the company was negotiating with former consumer commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi, to join them as a director to help with consumer and competition-related issues.

Siyaya is a wholly black-owned company with strong female representation. It will launch with 40 channels including entertainment and sports and aims to charge a R70 monthly subscription fee. StarTimes’ three packages range between R99 and R199 per month.

This should be good news for consumers of football, from an affordability perspective.

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