New SuperSport deal doesn't mean it's over for athletics on SABC - ASA
Although last week's celebrated announcement of a new multi million Rand broadcast partnership between Athletics South Africa and SuperSport has left many excited about the future of the sport that now enjoys the backing of the best sports specific broadcaster on the continent, others have expressed concern that athletics may no longer be available on free to air television. But ASA President James Moloi has been quick to add that they are still in talks with the South African Broadcasting Corporation to ensure that at least some athletics can be watched by those without a DStv subscription.
"This doesn't mean that we have closed the door on the SABC," said Moloi shortly after the new SuperSport deal was made public at a glitzy launch in Rosebank last Thursday. "If you still remember the (2021) Sanlam Marathon - the SABC was there. So both SuperSport and SABC were televising the event. It was also the same at the SA 10km - SABC and SuperSport. So in other words, we are still busy with the SABC. We are still negotiating with the SABC," he said.
But those negotiations have been ongoing for over 12 months now without a signature on the dotted line. It is suggested that some of the sticking points which could be delaying the finalisation of the broadcast deal between ASA and the SABC may have to do with the number, type and length of live events that the SABC is willing to cover on their terrestrial channels of SABC which enjoy a viewership of over 30 million.
While ASA bosses want as many of their events to be televised live, management at Auckland Park argue that the opportunity cost of putting a whole-day live athletics on air is high. With a public mandate that compels them to provide a variety of programming to the greater South African population, SABC top brass say the rands and cents of the deal cannot be ignored - they can't put a live athletics event on TV for the whole day at the cost of generating considerable advertising revenues from televising soapies for example.
The details notwithstanding though, Moloi and his board remain confident that an agreement will soon be reached that will allow the masses to enjoy athletics (at least in part) on the SABC. "Immediately when we finalise everything, we'll come back to people and explain. But time and again when we've got events like in Cape Town Marathon, they were there. So for now SuperSport is the host and then if it comes to a push for other events, SABC will be there too," he concluded.