Cape Town - It took half a decade but the type of
television that pay-TV operator On Digital Media (ODM) has been lacking most is
finally on its way: sport and exclusive rights to sporting events, with a new
sports channel Star Sports Premium launching within weeks.
Sport broadcasts, although one of the most expensive to procure, remain one of
the real drivers of pay-TV subscriber growth.
After five years of no real sport cache to brag about, StarSat – formerly
branded TopTV – is finally making headway with sports which could turn the
fortunes of the embattled Woodmead-based operation around.
After finally abandoning its misguided plans for controversial porn channels,
ODM could soon find subscribers signing up for the sports rights it secured.
With live sports broadcasts come subscribers. It is something insiders say ODM
should have been focusing on and what should have happened in early 2010 before
TopTV launched in May 2010: acquiring sports rights and exclusive sporting
events, as well as the creation of a set of strong sport channels similar to
SuperSport available on MultiChoice's DStv.
Now a new sports channel, Star Sports Premium – already running elsewhere in
Africa – is set to start and will bring South African viewers exclusive
Star Sports Premium started on 1 June elsewhere in Africa – like Nigeria – and
plans are underway to unveil another three other sports channels soon.
Premium awaiting channel approval
StarSat tells Channel24 that the aim is to make Star
Sports Premium available on the StarSat platform in South Africa by the end of
June at the latest, pending channel approval from the broadcasting regulator.
Star Sports Premium, already up and running in other African nations where
China's StarTimes platform is operating, is currently awaiting channel
authorisation in South Africa from the Independent Communications Authority of
South Africa (Icasa).
Its debut will mean the end of South African pay-TV subscribers automatically
finding all major sport events on SuperSport and DStv, with StarTimes which has
secured broadcasting pay-TV rights - some of them exclusive - to major sporting
events ranging from football, motor sport and volley ball to boxing and table
StarSat is currently showing the FIFA Under-20 World Cup games until July 7,
live from New Zealand. In August there will be the German Bundesliga. StarTimes
secured the broadcasting rights for the next five seasons (2015-2020) with
nine live matches per day from August.
StarTimes also acquired the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 for July,
as well as the International Champions Club which starts in July and runs to
August with teams like LA Galaxy, Barcelona, Real Madrid Chelsea and others.
The FIFA Under-17 World Cup Chile will be on StarSat from October to November
and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Draw on June 25 will also be broadcast.
Boxing fans can see the Glory22 event with boxers from seven countries
competing in various weight divisions.
Motor sport enthusiasts can watch the World Rally Championships in Italy and
Poland in June and July.
StarTimes has also bagged the rights of the Volleyball Championship from 2015
to January 28, 2018 with all matches broadcast live. The year ends off with
the World Table Tennis competition from October to December 2015.
"We are very excited to have signed an exclusive deal with FIFA (Pan
African), the Bundesliga, ICC, World Table Tennis championships, Euro
qualifiers, and the Kenyan National Football Teams," says Gary Rathbone,
the director of sport at StarTimes.
"Our aim is to offer not just soccer, but a variety of sport on our
platform," says Rathbone.