It’s in the best interest of all the stakeholders involved to find a solution in the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) broadcast rights saga and resolve it; that’s the sentiment expressed by a leading market research company. There’s a current blackout of ABSA Premiership and MTN 8 matches on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) platforms.

Managing Director of leading Marketing research company Nielsen, Kelvin Watt adds that sponsors will not pull the plug on the PSL because they understand the SABC’s current financial situation.

The SABC could not reach an agreement with Supersport on a sub-licence contract at the start of the current football season. Those who are most affected are the millions of South Africans who have been left with no access to live matches on the public broadcaster’s television and radio platforms.

However, they are not the only ones on the receiving end. The SABC has a bigger audience than Supersport with sponsors losing out on exposure.

Although it’s relatively early days in the new season, it’s far from ideal for the PSL and its sponsors.

Currently, ABSA who are the title sponsors of the league, and MTN with the MTN 8 underway, are directly affected.

“If we can get past the first quarter of the season that starts to become serious; obviously from an MTN perspective it’s a little bit pressing than most because they have two more weekends of the MTN 8 left. The ABSA premiership is going to be played until the end of May. Nedbank Cup, Telkom Cup those sorts of things are still coming well into the season.  I think certainly my view it’s an interest of all the parties to have resolved the matter long before it becomes an issue specifically for those competitions; right now for the MTN 8 it’s obviously a bit of a concern,” says Watt.

The SABC is also set to lose out, not only commercially, but on greater content and audiences. The sponsors, on the other hand, could optimise on other platforms to reach the fans.

“From a sponsorship perspective television exposure is not the only important return on investment for sponsors, so far a lot of that has been in the game.  The benefit of sponsoring football in South Africa and anywhere else in the world is greater than television: social and digital channels have grown enormously in the past number of years, so they still have those accesses to fans available to them,” says Watt.

While the standoff continues football-loving fans bear the brunt.

Watt feels it’s a matter that can be resolved between the stakeholders. Despite the SABC providing a far bigger footprint, other free-to-air channels could decide to jump into the market.

“Personally, I feel it’s opening up an incredible opportunity to someone like etv, its open view platforms to potentially get involved in football. From a SABC perspective, I think that’s one thing that’s got a concern because there is another free-to-air operator out there,” says Watt.

Meanwhile, the Sports Ministry is reported to have had meetings with both the PSL and the SABC, but they have not resolved anything yet.