Cape Town – The South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) made waves on Tuesday by announcing that it would start screening live English Premier League matches from this weekend.
The 16:00 kick-offs – one per weekend – will be screened on SABC 3, starting with Saturday’s London derby between Arsenal and West Ham.
While the global and local appeal of the Premier League is undeniable, there have long been calls for the SABC to commit to showing the live matches of the national soccer, cricket and rugby teams.
The SABC announced earlier in the month that it was too cash-strapped to screen Bafana Bafana matches any longer, with the organisation reportedly owing the South African Football Association (SAFA) more than R50 million.
When it was also announced that SABC might not air any live football on their radio channels, the public outcry reached new levels.
Subsequently, SABC has said that it plans to get soccer coverage back on radio, but Tuesday’s announcement has not gone down well with some corners of the South African sporting community.
The obvious question to have been asked is: How does the SABC have money for the Premier League, but not for the Springboks or Bafana Bafana?
That answer comes in the form of Kwese Sports, who through their parent company Econet have secured the free-to-air Premier League rights for the next three seasons.
Kwese are then able to sub-contract those rights to public broadcasters, and that is how the SABC have landed with the Premier League on its doorstep.
The deal has nothing to do with SuperSport nor MultiChoice.
While the financials between the SABC and Kwese have not been disclosed, the SABC are understood to be eyeing long-term financial recovery and enticing viewers and advertisers with the Premier League is considered a lucrative vehicle.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the SABC confirmed that their deal with Kwese would last for one season and that what they paid was “minimal” compared to other sports.
The organisation confirmed that there would be 33 live matches shown over the course of the season while they committed to showing the PSL on SABC 1.
Source : Sport24