In a strategic move, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and eMedia Investments (e.tv, eNCA and Openview), have signed a signal distribution channel carriage and content agreement that will shake up the South African free-to-air television landscape.
Openview will now carry SABC 1, 2 and 3, as well as three additional television channels from the public broadcaster and all its 19 radio channels. First among the three new channels will be a standalone SABC sports channel that will launch on Openview soon. The agreement sees the SABC officially enter the free-to-air satellite market which will supplement its channels on DTT and streaming platforms.
“This agreement enables the SABC to grow its channel offering and reach into the digital broadcasting space with three additional HD television channels. The first channel to be launched will be an SABC Sport Channel and will be distributed simultaneously across Openview, DTT, Telkom One and other streaming platforms,” said SABC COO, Ian Plaatjes.
“This collaboration will enable the SABC to optimally exploit its rich sport content rights and leverage the Openview reach to provide an improved integrated sport value proposition for our advertising clients across platforms. The agreement also enhances the distribution of SABC radio stations to create an increased value proposition for our radio advertising inventory. The other two TV channels, to be announced within the next three months, will leverage extensive SABC content and archived material.”
One of the most contentious aspects of former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s dealmaking was his R533 million ‘sale’ of the SABC’s valuable archive to MultiChoice. The pay-TV giant would control those archives for a five-year period. That deal was finalised in 2014, and Motsoeneng scored a healthy ‘bonus’ for facilitating it.
The SABC and Openview both score out of this agreement. For the SABC, its content, in all its formats, will continue to honour its public mandate. But now it will also provide universal access to credible content. For Openview the deal enhances its strength in the direct-to-home space with additional content and a solid binding collaboration with the public broadcaster.
“This is an exciting development for both the SABC and ourselves. The agreement ushers in a new level of collaboration between a private free-to-air satellite platform and public free-to-air broadcast services,” said eMedia Investments COO, Antonio Lee. “There is no doubt it will boost the offering of Openview and will extend the SABC’s audience reach. We can now offer our Openview audience additional quality content and access to digital broadcast radio in the widest variety of languages possible in South Africa. We hope this is the start of a stronger and more fruitful relationship between Openview and the SABC”.
Openview’s aggressively growing base of 2.3 million households will have access to four SABC television channels, with two more to be announced in due course, and 19 radio stations, including the biggest South African radio brands – Ukhozi FM, Metro FM, Lesedi and Umhlobo Wenene. This enables previously geographically restricted FM radio channels to be received throughout the country via digital broadcasting on a free-to-air basis.
Notwithstanding this agreement at the platform level, the SABC’s broadcasting services will continue to compete for audience and advertising with eMedia-owned channels and services, as they currently compete on the analogue network.
Openview and the SABC believe that this agreement will expedite digital migration from analogue-only households to digital broadcasting platforms with more compelling free-to-air channels and content. Together with the DTT platform, Openview provides audiences with a free HD alternative to both analogue terrestrial and pay satellite options.