Cash-strapped SABC to screen MSL 2.0

Cape Town - The second edition of Cricket South Africa's (CSA) Mzansi Super League (MSL) will once again be broadcast free-to-air on SABC. 

That was confirmed by CSA CEO Thabang Moroe at a press conference in Johannesburg on Monday. 

With CSA now operating under a new leadership structure, all eyes are on Moroe as he looks to navigate the way forward.

Trying to decrease a predicted loss of R654 million in the next four years, a drastic change to the franchise cricket that will see the system expanded to 12 professional teams, turning the Mzansi Super League into a profitable product and getting the Proteas back to winning ways are all high up on the list of priorities for Moroe and the CSA leadership. 

The MSL is a major challenge, with the absence of financial investment from broadcaster SuperSport a major stumbling block in 2018. 

That, it seems, will be the case once again in 2019.

"For this year the league will continue being on SABC," Moroe confirmed.

"In the next week or two we will communicate such plans in terms of how we intend to roll out the league."

While taking the sport to the masses via free-to-air TV is an obvious positive, the SABC's own dire financial situation means that it will not be able to provide a significant financial commitment to CSA for the MSL broadcasting rights. 

The strained economic climate of the public broadcaster means it has not been able to screen domestic football games so far this season - a sign of how bad things have become. 

CSA's broadcast deal with SuperSport for all international cricket, meanwhile, is set to run until May 2021. 

Before then, a new deal will need to be negotiated, but Moroe says there is only so much that CSA can do.

"As far as the restructuring of broadcast deals is concerned, it's pretty difficult to say now," he said.

"We tend to sometimes forget that we are not in the same situation as Australia, for example, in that the amount of money the public broadcaster pumps into sport with the help of the government.

"We're not in a similar landscape to England in terms of the amount of broadcasters they have in their country who want to have sport on their respective channels.

"We're not in a similar space to India, either, where on average pay TV costs $2 per month and there are numerous broadcasters there as well who are all interested in their key content being cricket.

"CSA doesn't have much room to move in terms of making decisions.

"I think as things stand we are lucky to be where we are in that we can broadcast international cricket on both free to air and pay TV.

"Because none of them have exclusivity, we do not receive the same values as we would had we given any of them exclusivity, but that's the pain we take in terms of wanting to spread the game."

The second edition of the MSL is set to get underway on November 1. 

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