On Digital Media (ODM), the owner of pay-television operator StarSat (formerly TopTV), is making a more aggressive play into sports, reserving an entire channel number range to sports channels and launching a new sports channel, StarTimes Sport 2, this weekend.
ODM is at the advanced stage of a business rescue process that has resulted in China’s StarTimes taking a 20% stake in the company. Through a complex structure designed to get around restriction to foreign ownership of South African broadcasters, StarTimes has a 65% “economic interest” in ODM, meaning it’s entitled to 65% of any future profits the company generates.
The new sports channel will be available on channel 241 starting tomorrow (Saturday).
“To accommodate the new StarTimes Sport 2 channel and other future new channels, the channel numbers for the sports channels will be adjusted,” the company says. “The sports channels will now be located between channels 241 and 251.”
Sports has been seen as one of ODM’s weak points, with SuperSport, owned by DStv parent MultiChoice, having sewn up access to South Africa’s most popular sporting codes. Attempts to secure SuperSport channels for what was then TopTV collapsed, prompting ODM to lodge a complaint against MultiChoice at the Competition Commission. That complaint is yet to be heard.
“Sport is a language without the limitation of boundaries, races and genders, and it is a well-known fact that South Africans love sport. StarTimes Sport 2, with its diverse sporting programmes will appeal to a varied audience,” ODM says in a statement.
“The channel will cover different sport disciplines such as soccer, tennis, rugby, golf, motor-racing, cricket and extreme sports, to name a few,” it says. “In the next few weeks, viewers can enjoy some exciting football events such as the International Champions Cup, European Qualifiers, Summer Football season and the French Ligue 1.”
Meanwhile, the broadcaster’s Setanta Africa and Setanta Action channels are being rebranded by Fox International Channels to Fox Sports and Fox Sports 2 with the launch of a new football season in August.
Leagues such as French Ligue 1, Ederevise, Belgium Pro League, FormulaE will only be available on the StarSat platform through the Fox Sports channels, it says. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media