The SABC has concluded a distribution agreement with Walt Disney Co that will allow it to broadcast local and international live sporting events, news programming and a library of sporting content from ESPN.
ESPN, which is by far the top sports broadcaster in the US – akin to MultiChoice Group-owned SuperSport in South Africa – will provide the public broadcaster with the content for its SABC Sports channel.
This content will include European football matches, the SABC said on Friday. It represents an escalation of an intensifying war for viewers with MultiChoice, particularly as the content will be available on eMedia Holdings’ free-to-air Openview platform, which this week topped 2.5 million decoder activations in the South African market.
“Kicking off this weekend is the premiere of two brand-new ESPN-branded football slots that will air each on Saturday and Sunday on the SABC Sports channel at midday during European football season. The dedicated slots will offer viewers a live English Championship match on Saturdays at 1.30pm and a Dutch Eredivisie game on Sundays at 12.15pm, as well as highlights from US Major League Soccer and premiere football news round-ups from ESPN’s magazine shows, including the popular ESPN FC,” the SABC said.
Other sport will include the World Indoor Championships from Serbia (March 2022), World Race Walking Championships from Belarus (April 2022), the World Championships from the US (July 2022) and the Basketball Africa League (selected matches in 2022). It has also licensed live boxing games and boxing content from ESPN’s extensive archives.
“This agreement is going to add significant depth to our current offering on the SABC Sports channel,” said SABC Sport GM Gary Rathbone. “With the addition of long-awaited regular live boxing events, as well more live football, athletics and African basketball, it’s clear that this partnership will deliver right across the board for our viewers.”
The SABC Sports channel is available on Openview as well on the SABC’s digital terrestrial television service. It’s also on TelkomOne streaming. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media