Sunday, August 3, 2014

South African soccer TV rights sold to new Siyaya pay-TV service by Safa; live local soccer coverage gone for millions on SABC.

The soccer TV rights of live South African soccer has been sold to the new pay-TV entrant Siyaya Free to Air which is set to start Siyaya TV, and which will mean that millions of South African TV households will be cut off from access to watching live soccer matches on the SABC.

The Siyaya Free to Air consortium has already paid R25 million to the South African Football Association (Safa) in an exclusive 6 year deal that will be worth R1 billion and which will remove live TV broadcasts of Bafana Bafana games from the SABC.

The SABC last month complained in parliament and warned that the public broadcaster can no longer afford to pay for rising sports rights, and that continuing to do so would bankrupt the SABC.

The SABC's existing soccer broadcasting rights for Bafana Bafana games ends in April 2015 and the South African Football Association with its new deal with Siyaya, won't renew it.

The SABC will have to buy the soccer rights from Siyaya Free to Air, and not Safa, if the public broadcaster wants to show national soccer games - and won't be able to do so live. The SABC, if it's willing to pay up, will at most be able to show some games, and on a delayed basis.

Siyaya Free to Air is one of 5 new pay-TV entrants who were granted provisional licences by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) recently to start new subscription television services in South Africa.

Siyaya TV has talk show host Dali Thambo as one of the investment backers. Siyaya is a 100% black-owned media consortium whose major shareholder is the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe in the North-West with a 40% interest, as well as shareholders like the South African Post Office chairperson Vuyo Mahlati, Transnet Freight CEO Siyabonga Gama, and Siyaya board member Aubrey Tau.

Siyaya wants to start its own local soccer league and broadcast those matches for a monthly subscription fee of R70 with a PVR. Siyaya TV has now grabbed the Bafana Bafana soccer rights as well.

According to reports, the deal between Siyaya Free to Air and the South Africa Football Association (Safa) means that all Bafana Bafana and junior national soccer games will be shown on Siyaya TV, along with Safa TV as a magazine show, and the annual Safa Awards

Other exclusive soccer broadcasts on Siyaya TV form part of the deal, like showing the ABC Motsepe League (First Division) and the Sasol Women's League.  

Viewers who've been watching the national soccer and Bafana Bafana on the SABC will now have to buy a decoder and pay a monthly subscription fee when Siyaya TV plans to launch from June 2015 in South Africa.