SABC Rugby World Cup streaming problems — fix in the works

The SABC says it is working on a solution for its video streaming capacity problems that prevented many South Africans from watching the Springboks’ first Rugby World Cup match last night.

“The SABC has noted some users experienced disruptions in transmission on the SABCPlus App,” said acting corporate affairs and marketing head Mmoni Seapolelo.

Seapolelo said there was a huge traffic peak 5 minutes before the start of the game that caused performance issues and bottlenecking issues for those users.

“A temporary solution was implemented during the games, and we are in the process of resolving the problem with a permanent fix.”

The statement comes after viewers took to social media to voice their frustration at being unable to livestream the match between South Africa and Scotland on SABC+ or the SABC Sport website.

Trying to open the SABC 2 live channel on the SABC+ website showed an authentication error, while the SABC Sport website returned a server error — “504 Gateway Time-out.”

Attempting to log in via the mobile app yielded a “Connection error” message.

The public broadcaster secured the rights to broadcast several matches a day before the World Cup kicked off on Friday, 8 September 2023.

According to a statement issued by MultiChoice on Thursday, the deal is for 16 live matches. However, the SABC Sport website states it has secured the rights to 19 games.

The matches are being broadcast on SABC 2, with selected games live-streamed on SABC Sport’s online channel.

The announcement came after a sub-licensing stand-off with MultiChoice over the past few weeks, in which the SABC reportedly refused to pay $2 million (R38 million) for the rights to broadcast all confirmed and potential Springboks matches.

While the SABC did not have the money to buy the rights, three companies helped finance the last-minute deal, which ended up costing them $3 million (R58 million).

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

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 satellite TV platform.

As a result of the ban, the public broadcaster could not show the Springboks’ first match on SABC 2’s digital terrestrial television channel, as it uses the same feed as Openview.

To ensure digital TV viewers could still catch the game, it moved the broadcast to its SABC News channel, which is not available on Openview.

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

It called MultiChoice’s restriction “overtly anti-competitive” and said it undermines the national imperative of South Africa’s migration from analogue to digital TV.

“3.2 million digitally migrated South African households will be deprived from viewing the Rugby World Cup on Openview,” eMedia said in an open letter addressed to MultiChoice executives and various government ministers.

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

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SABC Rugby World Cup streaming problems — fix in the works