These 3 businesses funded the SABC’s World Cup broadcasting rights

South African Breweries, Hollywoodbets, and Pineapple paid $3 million (R58 million) to help the SABC cover MultiChoice’s price for sub-licencing the Rugby World Cup broadcasting rights.

Citing insiders, the Sunday Times reported that SAB paid most of this cost through its Castle Lager beer brand.

In response, the three companies responsible for funding the rights will receive advertising throughout the two-month tournament.

Until this intervention, South Africans who did not have DStv’s R799 per month Premium subscription (more, for satellite-based viewers) would not have been able to watch the Rugby World Cup from their homes.

With these rights, the SABC can broadcast 16 matches, including all Springbok matches.

According to the report, MultiChoice had been holding out for a $5 million (R96 million) price.

“The opportunity to partner with our national broadcaster to provide access for all South Africans to the RWC and foster national unity as we back the Boks was an easy decision to make,” said SAB VP for Marketing Vaughan Croeser.

“The RWC provides us an opportunity to unite and be reminded of the very best of what it means to be proud South Africans”.

Pineapple co-founder and CEO Marnus van Heerden told the paper it would have been a tragedy if the SABC didn’t broadcast the World Cup.

An insider also reportedly told the Sunday Times that sports minister Zizi Kodwa was to thank for getting MultiChoice to lower their initial $5 million price.

Zizi Kodwa, Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture

MultiChoice issued a statement on Thursday confirming its sub-licensing deal with the SABC.

According to its statement, the deal comprises 16 matches, including all the matches featuring the Springboks.

However, the SABC Sport website states that the public broadcaster has secured the rights to 19 games.

In addition to the opening match between New Zealand and France and the Springboks’ pool games, the deal includes 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 said.

While the SABC has said some matches would be broadcast on its SABC+ streaming platform, none are currently listed on its schedule for the coming week.

It also did not show the opening ceremony or any of the matches played on Friday and Saturday on SABC+.

Controversially, the deal blocks the SABC from broadcasting the matches on Openview’s free-to-view satellite TV platform.

Openview’s parent company is eMedia, which also owns E-tv. SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, and SABC Sport are available on the platforms.

eMedia has said it does not generate any advertising revenue from SABC’s channels on its platform.

Beware illegal streaming

South African rugby fans who want access to all 48 matches still only have one option — subscribe to DStv Premium.

Any other form of watching the 32 matches not being broadcast by the SABC is illegal, including subscribing to foreign services through VPN services.

This is according to MultiChoice, which explained that these methods of watching the World Cup are not allowed due to two pieces of legislation — the Copyright Act of 1978 and Cybercrimes Act of 2020.

“The legislation grants content creators and rights holders, like SuperSport, exclusive rights to their creations,” MultiChoice said. “This includes the right to reproduce, distribute, and broadcast the content.”

“Anyone who accesses or distributes this content without the necessary permissions from SuperSport or the original content creator is violating this Act.”

Law firm Barnard Inc. told MyBroadband that while using a VPN is not illegal in South Africa, it does not negate an illegal online activity.

“If something is illegal without a VPN, it is still illegal with a VPN,” they said.

While MultiChoice said it could resort to civil or criminal legal actions against those who use VPNs to watch the World Cup on other platforms, this would be very difficult to execute.

VPN services usually don’t keep logs of their users’ activity, making it impossible for them and ISPs to provide this information to law enforcement.

“Individuals who are currently actively using VPNs to view restricted content and bypass geoblocking, must be aware of the potential risks,” said Barnard Inc.

“However, at present, no action has been taken by any entity to restrict and/or prevent the practice.”

Now read: Bad news for Rugby World Cup matches on Openview

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These 3 businesses funded the SABC’s World Cup broadcasting rights