Women’s football gets a boost from SABC

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Banyana Banyana players celebrate.
Photo: Twitter
Banyana Banyana players celebrate. Photo: Twitter


Women’s football in the country is now in a better place because of an association with the SABC.

This came up during a panel discussion at a media event to launch the sport, which will take place over the next two months, under the #MoreSummer campaign.

SABC head of sport Gary Rathbone said free access to TV was the most important element to woo audiences.

“There has been a period when sport really died on the SABC because so much had gone over to the pay-TV set-ups. And I think advertisers and sponsors have started to look at things differently and we see lots of that momentum,” said Rathbone at the event held in Hyde Park, Johannesburg in Friday.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the Hollywoodbets Super League [the national women’s league] proves that we are in a state of rebuilding the SABC sport proposition on a number of levels in terms of the way we can grow. That’s how people know about the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies, because they have been on SABC sport.”

Head of SABC Sports Gary Rathbone. Picture: Rosett
Head of SABC Sports Gary Rathbone. Picture: Rosetta Msimango

Safa chief operating officer Lydia Monyepao, who was part of the panel, explained how things have been looking up.

Monyepao said: 

Our competition was not sponsored in the first year, but Hollywoods saw the opportunity as we moved along. This because we are getting more viewership compared to the PSL.

SABC lost the exclusive rights to broadcast PSL matches to SuperSport International, and football fans who relied on free-to-air channels were deprived of accessing high-profile games.

The SABC’s deal with Safa meant significant audiences for the women’s league and Banyana Banyana.

READ: Give us same share as Bafana – Banyana star Kgatlana

Rathbone admitted that sports federations needed the money in exchange for TV rights, but he conceded that it was the question of affordability.

“It’s difficult times financially across the board. We don’t have the luxury of earning revenue out of a subscriptions basis. We’ve got to drive revenue from sponsorships. I think sport at the SABC, as far as sales and sponsorship is concerned, has really lost its way over the past few years.

“With the audiences we have, we should be able to offer the national sports the kind of deals they deserve.

“Talking of competition with the likes of SuperSport, I think its important for them to exist in the space they do. They are actually in the right place to drive their revenues that the organisation needs.

But we are not saying we want everything all exclusively. All we are saying is we want a fair slice of that and make sure that everybody can access it without having to pay a lot money or paying nothing all.

It’s a delicate balance and we are trying to find the balance.”

Rathbone said the signs were positive for the public broadcaster.

“In the 2019/20 season we had 14 sports properties on SABC. This year we are on 51 because we’ve created our own sports channel. The idea is that SABC 1, 2 and 3 should be entertainment channels and sports should get its own channel.

“Unfortunately, the way it works is that there is limited space available for analogue broadcasters, obviously we can’t have sport on the DSTV platform where SABC 1, 2 and 3 sit. We know the environment is changing and analogue is going to be switched off and everything will move into the digital space.”



Deputy sports editor

+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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