SPORTS The deepest pockets win the bids The majority of sports broadcast rights of provincial, national and international interest are held by MultiChoice/DStv, on its SuperSport channels. Sports covered include soccer, rugby, motor racing, cricket, and less popular sports such as swimming, cycling and athletics. SuperSport is a juggernaut, both in terms of spending power and number of channels on which to showcase content. Bidding for exclusive sports broadcast rights is an important part of MultiChoice’s strategy, but it is also bolstered by international practice. “It is an accepted principle by regulators globally that pay TV broadcasters require exclusivity to differentiate themselves from competitors as a basic business model, to recoup the investment they make into sports rights,” said MultiChoice (comment from individuals on specific questions was requested by The Media magazine, but the company chose to respond with a broad statement instead). Sport is a hot commodity in South Africa. South Africans are passionate fans who enjoy and follow their teams, so it makes sense for broadcasters to want to have as much coverage as possible on their channels as it attracts massive numbers of viewers. But it is an expensive endeavour at the same time. When SuperSport won the South African PSL rights in 2011, out bidding the SABC, it paid R1.6 billion and when renewing in 2011, for five years from the 2012/13 season, the cost rose to over R2 billion. Another example of the massive costs of sports rights is how much SuperSport paid for the English Premier League (EPL) 2016 – 2019 seasons, back in late 2015. The broadcaster splashed out on a £296 million (R6 – 7 billion) price tag for the exclusive rights. The reality, at present, is that realistically SuperSport is the only major broadcaster in South Africa with enough money to pay these costs. It’s no secret that the SABC is struggling financially, having posted a R977 million loss for the 2016/17 financial year, while Rosin describes the costs of acquiring live sport broadcast rights as “exorbitant”. Not enough available airtime But it is not only costs that are a hindrance to acquiring sports rights. Most agreements require that a broadcaster show every match/event of a tournament or league. They cannot pick and choose only a certain number to show. With SABC only having three channels and eMedia Investments limited to two (if you include eNCA, which is unlikely to show live sport), SuperSport is the only broadcaster with enough capacity to realistically fulfil these agreements. At the time of writing, it has 16 channels on the DStv platform dedicated to sport. Its ability to also have popup channels, dedicated to specific tournaments and/or leagues, is another major advantage. WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil (centre) meets Cassper Nyovest (second from right) and SuperSport presenter Thato Moeng (right). WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil (left) brings wrestling action to MultiChoice, with Thato Moeng (centre) and Robert Marawa (right).
THE MEDIA APRIL 2018
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