JOHANNESBURG - Cricket South Africa confirmed that its new T20 Cricket League will be another loss-making operation initially but that its partnership with public broadcaster the SABC will prove beneficial to the sport’s development in the country.
Neither CSA nor the SABC were willing to reveal details about the deal. Asked repeatedly if the SABC had paid CSA any money for the broadcast rights, the corporation’s chief operating officer Chris Maroleng refused to answer, instead choosing to extol the virtues of a partnership that was done in “a commercially viable manner”. “It does not expose the SABC to commercial risk,” Maroleng added. “This is done in a way that ultimately benefits the SABC and Cricket SA, and not in any irresponsible way.”
CSA, however, have budgeted to lose money - R40 million, according to chief executive Thabang Moroe - which is not good for the federation who lost close to R200 million last year when they postponed the T20 Global League.
With the SABC facing huge financial constraints and reports of retrenchments at the corporation, the nature of a broadcasting rights deal for sport has been controversial. Last month it was revealed that the SABC still owed the SA Football Association R50 million related to the broadcast deal for Bafana Bafana matches.
There was further controversy when the SABC agreed to broadcast English Premier League matches on a Saturday, with a spokesman for the organisation saying the SABC was paying a fee to satellite broadcaster Kwese for those matches. But the nature of this deal appears to be different and Maroleng admitted it would set the example for how the SABC negotiates broadcast rights in the future.
“The challenge in the past is that we did not necessarily acquire rights in a way that allowed us to derive commercial value. We can no longer, as SABC, be an impediment to the taxpayer, or the (country’s) fiscus. We must acquire rights in a commercially viable and responsible way and our engagement with Cricket SA demonstrates how we can best do that.”
For the first time in the history of Cricket South Africa and SABC, The SABC will be the exclusive broadcaster of The New SA T20 League. - Thabang Moroe pic.twitter.com/HyjutZApQ2
With CSA seemingly taking all the financial risk, the reward for the federation will be crucial and is for now heavily reliant on the large reach the SABC has through its TV channels and radio stations.
Moroe said there would be opportunities for the six new teams to have tie-ins with local radio stations, while all the matches will also be broadcast on SABC 2 and 3, and on Radio 2000 and Umhlobo Wenene. CSA yesterday also called on players to register for the new competition, while Moroe said details about the host venues would be released soon.