In a turning of the tables, the SABC – and not MultiChoice Group – has secured the rights to broadcast all 52 games of the upcoming 2023 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.
The announcement, made on Friday, follows a Wednesday statement by MultiChoice in which the pay-television operator said subsidiary SuperSport had not been able to secure the rights to broadcast the tournament, which will be hosted by the Ivory Coast.
“Afcon 2023 is a highly anticipated sport spectacle that will take place in the Ivory Coast from 13 January to 11 February and will be only available on the SABC channels across all broadcasting platforms in South Africa. SABC Sport will be offering its audiences and commercial partners the live experience of all the 52 matches of the tournament,” the SABC said in a statement on Friday.
That presumably includes Openview, the free-to-air satellite platform owned by eMedia Holdings. Openview, which carries the SABC channels, was effectively prohibited from carrying last year’s rugby and cricket world cups due to sublicensing restrictions imposed on the public broadcaster by MultiChoice.
The SABC’s victory upends a trope in a long-running saga over sports broadcasting rights between the national broadcaster and MultiChoice.
In the most recent iteration of this saga, an agreement for sublicensing rights to the 2023 Cricket World Cup was finalised at the eleventh hour following a public spat in which the parties blamed one another for a breakdown in negotiations. Only a month prior to that, sublicensing talks for the 2023 Rugby World Cup also deadlocked prior to a last-minute deal. In each case, the more financially powerful MultiChoice already held the rights to which the SABC was seeking broadcast rights.
New World TV
The SABC is buying the Afcon rights from New World TV, a Togolese broadcaster that acquired both the pay-TV and free-to-air broadcasting rights for this year’s tournament.
“The SABC team is happy to have made all these great sport activities available to the South African public and would like to express its gratitude to the rights holders, New World Media, and all the relevant stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure the fruition of this process,” said SABC chief operating officer Ian Plaatjies in the statement.
Matches will be broadcast live on SABC1, SABC3 and SABC Sport as well as various radio stations, For those who prefer using the internet to access the broadcasts, SABC+ and sabcsport.com will offer free live streaming of all the 52 games along with a free catch-up service for those that may have missed the live action. — (c) 2024 NewsCentral Media