The SABC’s content delivery obligations for nation-building and social cohesion can never be underestimated or ignored.
The total disregard of this important mandate by commercially-focused entities is at the disadvantage and peril of the millions of South African citizens who heavily depend on the SABC for information.
During the Rugby World Cup 2023 tournament, the SABC recorded a total of 15.5-million viewers of which 12.4-million were adults aged 15+ despite the corporation only being able to announce the broadcast rights on September 7, a day before the start of one of the country’s most anticipate sport spectacles.
The SABC also used its over-the-top streaming service, SABC Plus, to broadcast the matches. This fast-growing platform experienced a surge in new registrations of the app during the tournament resulting in over 313 000 registrations since September.
The final saw 9.2-million minutes watched on the platform.
SABC Plus has experienced significant growth since its inception 12 months ago, with over 600 000 registrations to date and recognised at the 5th Africa Tech Week Awards in May 2023, within a very short period in the market.
The use of SABC Plus emanates from the understanding that broadcasting in the digital age requires broadening the quality and scope of the SABC’s content offering, increasing accessibility, and offering audiences value for their time.
The high number of the audiences who tuned into SABC platforms during the Rugby World Cup is indicative that the SABC is the primary source of information for most South African citizens. With all the external factors that always inhibit it from securing the sport broadcasting rights for key sporting events timeously, the public should always be considered.
If the SABC did not ultimately secure the broadcasting rights for the World Cup, over 15-million people would not have easily accessed the tournament and witnessed this momentous moment for South Africa.
The SABC greatly appreciates the remarkable support demonstrated by the key stakeholders who have raised their hands to assist the SABC in securing the rights of the Rugby World Cup 2023. The efforts were not merely about providing funding but extended to the successful delivery of the corporation’s public service mandate of ensuring universal access by broadcasting sport of national interest.
In recent times, the SABC has faced challenging trading conditions due to the bleak domestic and global economic outlook. However, appreciation of the power of the SABC brand and its sub brands is incredible and bears testimony to the fact that strategic partnerships yield positive spin-offs.
Sport rights are one of the biggest cost drivers for the SABC and a core genre in television broadcasting, which requires regulatory intervention. It is the view of the SABC that sports regulations should enable the South African public to easily access major sporting events.
The SABC is mandated to broadcast sports programmes on its channels and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa regulations formally lists the sporting events that are identified as national sporting events.
These events include the Fifa World Cup, IRB Rugby World Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup, African Cup of Nations, Commonwealth games, Olympic games, Africa games and the CAF Champions league final.
Due to the exorbitant costs of the sports rights, the SABC is not always able to fully deliver on its mandate by securing the broadcasting rights of the identified sports. At the end, the SABC’s survival as the public service broadcaster is dependent on the support of the citizenry and strategic partnerships in which partners use the SABC’s content offering and packages that appeal to them.
The SABC does not exist in a vacuum but it is there to serve the millions of South Africans who depend on it for reliable news and information, with key stakeholder support. The corporation will continue to apply a frugal approach in delivering key sporting events.
- Seapolelo is group executive for corporate affairs and marketing (acting) and Marlin Nicker is SABC group executive for video entertainment