And here we have an unusual announcement that could have far greater ramifications — Vodacom has revealed that its Video Play streaming service has secured the rights to live-stream the FA Cup in South Africa. Users of the service will be able to watch FA Cup matches — live, delayed, or on-demand (provided the match has ended, of course) — from 26 January right up until the 18 May FA Cup final.
That’s… a bit of a first and it could spell trouble for traditional sports providers, like the already-battling SABC and for Multichoice in particular. If the thing keeping DStv users from jumping ship is access to sports channels and sporting events start streaming regularly in South Africa without requiring a DStv subscription… we really don’t have to do the math for you. About the only thing keeping this new announcement from being catastrophic for other parties is the fact that Vodacom’s Video Play service is still relatively new at just six months old, the FA Cup streaming is a limited offering, and data is still pretty pricey here in SA. We reckon it’s going to get a few takers nonetheless, though.
Vodacom’s group digital and fixed services officer Zunaid Mahomed say in a statement, “We are aware that soccer fans are passionate and have the spirit to connect with one another when watching a game. We are also aware that many fans face the challenges that comes with the costs of high monthly pay TV subscription costs. We decided to put the FA Cup in our customers’ pockets, to allow them to watch their favourite teams, live in their own way. This is a first for South Africa where football fans can pay for the games that they want to watch from as little as R35 a match”.
Vodacom’s Video Play service is a strange one. You can sign up for anywhere from R5 (for a day, on the Micro package) right up to R99 (for a month on the Premium package) and the company also provides specific data bundles for their service. Up to five people can use the service at any one time, and users have the option to buy pre-paid bundles or opt to have the expenses added to a contract’s monthly amount.
However, access to the FA Cup content comes at an extra cost. Users will pay between R15 (per match, on catch-up only) and R249 (full access to live, delayed, and highlights) for some English football, with a few tiers in between. Just R250 for access to the 2018-2019 FA Cup? We know at least a few people who may drop their DStv subscription in favour of this offering. If it becomes a habit, with F1 or rugby for instance, then satellite TV providers are in for a bad time financially. The rest of us? We’ll probably be okay.