It’s about eyeballs: expert on why PSL needs more matches on SABC

Image: PSL

The valuation of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is taking a hit from a significantly reduced number of games being broadcast free-to-air on the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channels‚ sports finance expert Sgwili Gumede has said.

Gumede‚ founder and executive director of sports finance research company Sport Boardroom‚ acknowledged the injection of billions of rand into the major sports in SA through sizeable broadcast deals negotiated by pay channel SuperSport.

However‚ he pointed out that in terms of viewership numbers SuperSport can only provide a fraction of what the SABC does‚ and this affects the growth of a sport‚ and the branding value that can be achieved for its sponsors‚ and hence its value to sponsors.

“Sport essentially has two major value drivers. One is the amount of people who attend the events. The second is eyeballs – how many people get to see your events on TV‚” Gumede told an online press conference of the SA Football Journalists Association (Safja).

“In this country there are two broadcasters for football – SuperSport and SABC1.

“An average football match playing on SABC will get anything between three and three-and-a-half million people watching. If the match is on SuperSport‚ it will probably get between 300‚000 and 400‚000 viewers‚ if it’s the [Kaizer Chiefs-Orlando Pirates] Soweto derby.

“So from a numbers point of view‚ if you have a match just on SuperSport and not SABC‚ then there are three million people not seeing that match.

It is absolutely imperative that the PSL and all the rights holders in this country find a way that free-to-air is part of their broadcast model
Sports finance expert Sgwili Gumede

“Now, no league‚ no property holder‚ no rights holder‚ could have a situation like that.

“So it is absolutely vital that we acknowledge the fact that SuperSport is vital for sport in this country. The amount they have put in is incredible. But the truth of the matter is also that SuperSport just does not have the eyeballs to sustain and grow the sport and take it into the future.

“And as the rights holder‚ if I was rugby or cricket‚ it is absolutely my business‚ even if it means buying some of the rights back to sell to the SABC‚ so it can show more football [or rugby and cricket].”

He said the SABC had drastically reduced the number of games it showed over the years, eating into the PSL’s value.

“The league today‚ in terms of its valuation‚ I cannot imagine how anyone could still pay what Absa paid in terms of the number of games that SABC is showing.

“It is absolutely imperative that the PSL and all the rights holders in this country find a way that free-to-air is part of their broadcast model.

“Otherwise, not only are they damaging the sport and their properties‚ but also denying access to the fans and majority of the population. And that is just like someone who is shooting themselves in the foot.”

Gumede is also chairman of Sport Industry Group‚ and was a player for the AmaZulu team who famously beat Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 in the 1992 Coca-Cola Cup final.

Absa has decided to terminate its sponsorship of the PSL’s headline Premiership‚ and the league is in the process of lining up a new backer.