DStv and SABC strike deal for 16 live Rugby World Cup matches

The SABC will be able to broadcast 16 Rugby World Cup 2023 (RWC 2023) matches live, including all games in which the Springboks will play or potentially play.

In a statement on Thursday, DStv owner MultiChoice — which holds the exclusive rights to broadcast and stream RWC 2023 in South Africa — confirmed that it had reached an agreement with the public broadcaster over the matter.

It comes just a day before the latest edition of the rugby spectacle kicks off in France.

“Following acceptance by the SABC of a proposal made by MultiChoice on 18 August 2023, it has reached an agreement in principle to sub-licence broadcast rights to the SABC for Rugby World Cup 2023,” MultiChoice said.

“A total of 16 matches may be broadcast by the SABC, including the opening ceremony and opening match, all matches that the Springboks participate in, two quarter-final matches, one semi-final, the bronze final, the final and the closing ceremony.”

“Should the Springboks not qualify for the knockout stages, the above matches will, in any event, be available for broadcast.”

MultiChoice South Africa chief executive Marc Jury said the broadcaster was pleased to have reached an arrangement with the SABC “in the spirit of cooperation”.

Schedule will depend on SABC

SuperSport confirmed to MyBroadband that the SABC had been given access to live broadcast feeds for all the matches, but the public broadcaster would be able to decide when to schedule them.

The matches that are confirmed to be available to the SABC and their kick-off dates and times are as follows:

  • France vs New Zealand — 21:15 on Friday, 8 September 2023
  • SA vs Scotland — 17:45 on Sunday, 10 September 2023
  • SA vs Romania — 15:00 on Sunday, 17 September 2023
  • SA vs Ireland — 21:00 on Saturday, 23 September 2023
  • SA vs Tonga — 21:00 on Sunday, 1 October 2023
  • Two quarter-finals — TBA (possible dates 14 and 15 October 2023)
  • One semi-final — TBA (possible dates 20 and 21 October 2023)
  • Third-place playoff (Bronze final)— 21:00 on Friday, 27 October 2023
  • Final — 21:00 on Saturday, 28 October 2023

The nature of the agreement between the SABC and MultiChoice and the amount agreed upon for the sub-licencing is unclear.

Sunday Times recently reported that the SABC refused to pay $2 million (R38.3 million) to sub-licence all seven confirmed and potential Springbok matches from MultiChoice.

Sources familiar with negotiations between the two broadcasters said that the public broadcaster could not put down that much money.

One insider accused MultiChoice of using an old strategy where it tried to force the SABC into a corner at the last minute.

“We approach them ahead of time. They wait until the last minute to start negotiations,” they said.

Another said the SABC would not be able to recoup $2 million through advertising at such short notice.

The news evoked a reaction from sports minister Zizi Kodwa, who urged the SABC to work at a solution to the standoff.

“I am concerned at how millions of South Africans may be unable to watch the Rugby World Cup should the SABC not be able to broadcast matches in the tournament,”” the minister said.

The tournament’s entire schedule will see 48 matches played from 8 September 2023 until 28 October 2023, so SABC viewers will miss out on 32 games.

That is a much better deal than in 2019, when the only match the public broadcaster could show was the final between the Springboks and England.

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DStv and SABC strike deal for 16 live Rugby World Cup matches