South Africa’s public broadcaster, SABC, inaugurated its 24-hour sports channel on Thursday, June 24, promising to bring innovative and fascinating sports content via free-to-air broadcasts and online streaming. The channel is presently available on SABC digital TV broadcasting, Openview channel 124, and the TelkomONE streaming service after a soft launch on April 15, 2021.
SABC Sport General Manager Gary Rathbone praised the channel’s achievements thus far. Claiming that, “the channel’s audience figures have been encouraging since it launched in April this year, with the most recent TAMS figure showing a total reach of over 2 million – a 5 per cent share of the national television market.”
“On Openview alone, the channel has positioned itself among the top ten on the bouquet, with a total reach of over 1.4 million viewers, representing a 24 per cent market share.” “This is a good start for a new sports channel that South Africans will be able to enjoy without paying a subscription,” he went on to add.
The SABC did not specify which sports will be broadcast, but Rathbone stated that the channel would appeal to a wide range of sporting preferences. He explained that this implies the channel will cover variously specialized, popular sports, international and local coverage. There would be a focus on school and, in particular, women’s sports.
After its inauguration, the first event shown on the channel was the unveiling of South Africa’s Olympic team for Tokyo. The SABC is now “occupying its rightful place” in the sports broadcasting landscape, according to Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. The Communications Minister also spoke about how her department would help the sports channel succeed. “As shareholders, it is our job to ensure that our people receive the proper information,” the minister remarked. Including effective governance maintenance at the SABC by ensuring it has the resources it needs and revising the regulatory framework to enable the SABC to compete with industry bodies.