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SABC agrees two-season Bundesliga rights deal

Public-service broadcaster the SABC has acquired a package of free-to-air Bundesliga rights in South Africa for the next two seasons.

The deal includes rights to one fixture per match week for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, alongside ancillary content in the form of a weekly preview show and the Bundesliga highlights programme.

The rights are platform neutral with matches being broadcast on the linear SABC 3 channel and live on the SABC Sport website. The SABC will also broadcast radio commentary of various Bundesliga matches throughout the deal.

The deal was agreed by Bundesliga International, the league’s international commercial arm.

It follows swiftly on from last week’s announcement that Canal Plus Afrique, the African subsidiary of the French pay-television broadcaster, had agreed a three-season deal for the French-language rights across sub-Saharan Africa for the 2020-21 to 2022-23 cycle. The rights included the top-tier Bundesliga, second-tier 2. Bundesliga and the annual German Supercup match.

Pay-television broadcaster StarTimes previously held the rights to the Bundesliga across sub-Saharan Africa in a five-season deal for the 2015-16 to 2019-20 seasons.

SABC general manager Gary Rathbone, who joined the SABC in May, said: “With this acquisition, SABC Sport is well on the way to delivering a diversified sport offering that understands the different needs of our audiences and commercial partners, and aims to bring more great sports content into their homes and onto their digital devices.”

The Bundesliga deal is one of the first overseen by Rathbone in his new role after being handed the remit of overseeing all SABC Sport acquisitions.

The Bundesliga rights will now sit alongside various other SABC properties, including the Olympic Games, a handful of the South African Football Association’s properties and the top-tier Premier Soccer League. At the start of the year, the broadcaster acquired the rights to a host of events held by Athletics South Africa until the end of the 2020 season.

Robert Klein, chief executive at Bundesliga International, said: “We are very excited to partner with SABC to bring Germany’s top league to South Africa’s vibrant, passionate community of football fans. With consistently more goals than Europe’s other top leagues, we know that viewers will be hooked by the exciting brand of football played in the Bundesliga and we are excited to use this partnership with SABC to reach more South Africans than ever before.”

Fellow European league, the Spanish LaLiga, also recently concluded a free-to-air agreement for its sub-Saharan African rights. The rights-holder signed a four-season deal covering the 2020-21 to 2023-24 cycle with the MBS agency for a minimum of 33 matches per season.