SABC Scraps Rugby Commentary

The SABC has scrapped radio commentary for Super Rugby and Currie Cup matches.

I will not bore you with the verbiage found in the SABC’s Mandate, Charter, or Vision, Mission & Value Statements. If you suffer from insomnia, or a severe case of masochism and enjoy a bit of self-flagellation, you can go and read them on their website.

Suffice to say that this decision seems to fly in the face of all their most profound statements and lofty ideals.

The news is a blow to rugby fans who cannot afford to watch games on DStv’s SuperSport 1, which is only available in the premium package.

According to TimesLive‘s Liam del Carme, commentators were informed of the SABC’s decision via email last Friday by Orapeleng Lebethe‚ the SABC’s acting head of radio.

“Herewith to advise that we will not be able to acquire the rights for Super Rugby and the Currie Cup for 2018‚”

It all sounds a bit strange, as it is common knowledge that the SABC radio commentary was not done live, at the stadium where the game was hosted. Rather the commentary was done from the SABC studios using DStv’s live TV broadcast as the source. The SABC commentary team did not attend matches, unless they were glamorous events like such as a final. Their entire broadcast process was as low-cost as it is possible to imagine.

What then the motive for scrapping the broadcast service?

Rugby is in desperate need of wider viewership and audiences. Subscription services might provide the financial income, but Free-To-Air services provide the wider audience. The decision by the SABC is a backward step for all concerned.