Tank Lanning

Do SA deserve more money?

2012-07-12 09:00
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
RepucomSA released some truly incredulous Super Rugby TV viewership numbers this week.

All good, if not sensational, on the South African front with the cumulative average audience of live broadcasts on SuperSport reaching a whopping 36 831 694 viewers, which is an increase of 18.2% on last year’s numbers.

Key though, is that the above number represents 67% of the total SANZAR audience. The Kiwis (via Sky Sports) bring in 22% of the audience, and the Aussies (via Fox Sports) a meager 11%.

SA home games are without doubt the key audience drivers with the Bulls v Stormers game on June 2 being the most watched game to date.

18 of the 20 most viewed games were hosted in SA, 19 included an SA side, and 13 were SA derbies. New Zealand sides were involved in six of those games, while Australian sides played in only three of the top 20 most viewed games!

And we all but gave up the Currie Cup so the Aussies could get a built in domestic competition via an expanded Super Rugby tournament? A tournament that is obliterating players as if they were skittles in a tenpin bowling game …

Obviously it is all about the cash, with the current deal, which runs from 2011 to 2015, thought to be worth a total of $400 million. Which is then split three ways … And while SANZAR released a list of 18 broadcasting companies around the world to which they sell Super Rugby and Rugby Championship rights this week, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is the three media houses in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa that are paying the most. And based on the viewership numbers released this week, it will be SuperSport who are topping that list.

So we (via SuperSport) pay the most for the rights, take only a third of that money (via SARU), while delivering 67% of the TV audience, and say yes to a tournament that all but destroys both the Currie Cup and our players?

The prize is of course getting to play the All Blacks twice a year, but that seems a heavy price to pay!

And then down in Port Elizabeth where the annual Craven Week is taking place … Apart from the dire performance from perennial schoolboy dominators, Free State, which will have sent a nasty chill up the spines of the powers that be at the Cheetahs, two things caught my eye.

Having watched the main game on all three days thus far, I am gobsmacked by the mostly absent defence. There seems to be a total lack of any formal, structured defensive systems. Don’t get me wrong - it makes for a fantastic brand of rugby to watch, and of course at this age, there is still space for the monster to smash through the more genetically challenged - but how do we go from this to a mostly defence orientated senior game?

Is there not space for a gameplan somewhere between these two extremes?

And unlike when played in big cities in previous years, every game this year is being played at the new stadium. Now I know we are under pressure to make use of the new stadia, but in the Craven Weeks that I have been involved in (as a player and then as a commentator), the midweek games have been played at a school or club, with only the final day’s main games being played at the stadium, often as a curtain raiser to a big senior game.

So instead of playing in front of full, smaller stands and giving a local school some publicity, these guys are playing on a great surface in a world class stadium, but to an empty cavern full of echoes. And there is no added incentive of playing the main game at the stadium, as they have already done that …

An opportunity missed to showcase one of the many schools in the area, like Grey, Union, Graeme College, Kingswood, St. Andrew's College, Framesby, Daniel Pienaar, Muir College or Pearson, so often touted as a primary reason for the Kings to be given Super Rugby status?

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

Disclaimer:
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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