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Broadcasting Troubles Mar Rugby World Cup for South African Fans

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A bitter aftertaste marked the launch of the Rugby World Cup for Rugby fans in South Africa due to performance and streaming issues on the SABCPlus app. A surge in traffic five minutes in the anticipation of the match along with substandard server capacity led to streaming disruption. Attempting to log in via the SABCPlus app and the SABC 2 website displayed a series of problems, including authentication errors and server timeouts.

SABC, acting corporate affairs and marketing head Mmoni Seapolelo, highlighted the temporary solution used during the game and assured that a permanent remedy is being sought.

These issues come at the backdrop of the recent acquisition of broadcasting rights by the public broadcasters, just a day ahead of the World Cup kick-off on 8th September 2023. According to MultiChoice, the broadcaster has rights over 16 live matches, three more than as suggested by SABC’s own sports website.

This arrangement was made possible through the last-minute financial intervention of three companies after repeated sub-licensing stand-off with MultiChoice, with SABC dipping USD 3 million (ZAR 58 million).

However, the deal prohibits SABC from broadcasting the matches on Openview’s free-to-view satellite TV platform. SABC’s channels are available on Openview, whose parent company eMedia also owns E-TV. This restriction barred broadcasting of the first match on SABC 2’s digital terrestrial television channel as its feed is the same as Openview.

In response to this limitation, SABC shifted the broadcast to SABC News channel, which isn't available on Openview. eMedia has disapproved of MultiChoice’s restriction, labelling it as “overtly anti-competitive” and stating that it undermines South Africa’s shift from analogue to digital TV.

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