"There are scores of DStv dishes on township roofs, which illustrates how much local soccer resonates with local fans," Imtiaz Patel, CEO of Video Entertainment at Naspers and former SuperSport CEO, said on Saturday night at the SuperSport PSL 10 Year Gala celebration of its PSL TV rights partnership.
"We have made every effort to produce affordable viewing packages, and the response has been humbling. The strength of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is its vibrancy and energy. We hope to continue to play our part in what has become a case study in sport partnership," said Imtiaz Patel.
SuperSport and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) celebrated their 10th anniversary since the landmark pay-TV deal between the subscription sports broadcaster and the South African soccer league was signed amidst great controversy a decade ago on 13 June 2007.
A decade ago SuperSport took over the PSL live TV rights from the SABC after it clinched a new rights deal after the SABC completely failed to respond at all during the window period to renegotiate rights. Since then the public broadcaster gets to show some games but with restrictions.
Since then the SuperSport TV rights deal completely revolutionised not just PSL broadcasting in the country upping production values and increasing the volume of content and ancillary magazine shows, but professionalism within the PSL and matches itself, propelling it to one of the top 10 soccer leagues in the world in terms of revenue.
The SuperSport PSL 10 Year Celebration bash held at the Sandton Convention Centre attracted a large group of the top soccer bosses and pay-TV executives in South Africa, as well as celebrities and politicians including the ministers of sport and communications.
In an on-air TV talent announcement, Minnie Dlamini was officially welcomed as the latest new SuperSport presenter who will do duty across several SuperSport shows, as well as a new lifestyle and entertainment TV show, as yet unnamed, on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) and co-produced by SuperSport.
"I can't help but be both humbled and excited by what the past 10 years have delivered, not least in the part we played in giving South African soccer the respect and prominence it deserves. It truly now has a place in the sun," said Imtiaz Patel.
"The relationship was a defining moment for the industry in this country," said dr Irvin Khoza, PSL chairman. "It's been far more than a mere investment in the PSL. Development has benefited, too, with club academics producing top players".
Where there used to be 75 PSL matches broadcast per year, 250 are not broadcast live and there's the decidicated SuperSport PSL channel in high definition (HD) on DStv that shows 180 matches live.
Other interesting broadcasting facts from the SuperSport and PSL partnership:
- Up to 30 cameras are used per production, up from 10 a decade ago.
- There are multiple commentary options with state-of-the-art graphics.
- Apart from the use of pundits, commentators and analysts, the partnership also spurred job creation in both television and soccer.
- Global interest in the PSL is constant with requests from African countries, UAE, Scandinavia and even the US for broadcast of PSL matches.
- The partnership also gave rise to the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, a feeder competition to the PSL, which has proven a staggering success.
- A higher percentage of clubs have sponsors than ever before; they can now get a better return on investment through additional broadcast exposure.