2018 the Year that Was

20 Dec 2018

As another year comes to an end, it is the perfect time to look back at the year that was. 2018 was a year that saw changes not just in our political landscape, with President Jacob Zuma being recalled, but also in our sporting federation. In May we saw Siya Kolisi become the first black captain of the Springboks as well as Cricket South Africa and the SABC completing a deal that saw the inaugural Mzansi Super League broadcast on the national broadcaster’s platform.

This year Banyana Banyana, our national ladies football team, captured the nation’s hearts by qualifying for 2019 Women’s Fifa World Cup. Lead by Coach Desiree Ellis our football ladies finished runners up at this year’s Women's Africa Cup of Nations, falling short of winning by losing to the tournament host the Falcons of Nigeria on penalties in the final. This achievement comes off the launch of the #Limitless campaign. An initiative launched by SAFA and SASOL, aimed at gathering more support for and inspiring participation in women football.

Just like Banyana Banyana captured our hearts, the Springboks redeemed themselves to South African rugby lovers with a better performance this year than in previous year. Under the captaincy of the first black Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, the Springboks had a series win against the English and finished 2nd in the Rugby Championship which included a win against the All Black in New Zealand. SA Rugby also had success off the field, sport performance brand ASICS renewed their partnership with SA Rugby for a further 5 years and Accenture South Africa announced as the new digital partner to champion the federation's digital acceleration of SARU and the Springboks. All of this topped off by the appointment of Mr. Mark Alexander to the World Rugby’s Executive Council in elections held in Dublin in November.

In 2018 we finally saw the introduction of Cricket South Africa’s the Mzansi Super League, the much anticipated T20 League was a sport and entertainment spectacle marking the start of the South African summer. The inaugural event took place from November 16 to December 16 2018 and attracted some of the world's top T20 talent, with the tournament’s objective of becoming a launchpad for next generation of T20 talent. The MSL brought franchise cricket back to the public broadcaster; the partnership gave the SABC exclusive official broadcast rights for the Sub-Saharan region.

South African public-service broadcaster, SABC also agreed a deal to show one live English Premier League match per match-week on the SABC 3 channel. In March 2016, the Premier League sold its free-to-air rights across sub-Saharan Africa to telco Econet.

 On the digital landscape Google added National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) content to its YouTube TV over-the-top (OTT) service in a partnership with Turner Sports. The internet streaming outlet, which launched in April 2017, added Turner Sports’ NBA TV and MLB Network channels to its monthly subscription offering. DirectTV Now has over two million subscribers, whilst research from BTIG estimates that Hulu, YouTube TV and SlingTV had 350,000, 2.1 million and 500,000 users respectively at the end of 2017.

YouTube launched Manchester United’s new YouTube channel. The channel gave fans access to official club content for the first time. It launched with exclusive features with the Premier League side’s first team players. Manchester United published stats-rich highlights of Premier League matches and behind-the-scenes content from the first team and academy. YouTube also reported that videos related to Manchester United generated some of the most view Premier League content on the platform. Stating, 843 million views have come from the start of the 2017/18 season.

It has been well publicised that MMA is the fastest growing sport globally, but nowhere is that more evident than in South Africa. As of February 2018, outside of football, there was no other sport property broadcast in South Africa - event, league, series or organisation - that attracts more viewers. The statistics received showed that EFC out ranks even the most traditional popular South African sports like rugby and cricket, and when comparing EFC to the biggest international and local sporting properties.

Much innovation has taken place in the EFC broadcast spectrum: last year EFC signed a landmark broadcast deal with SABC Sport, added to its programming with the hit reality TV series, The Fighter, signed on additional prestigious brands as partners, as well as held live events in three new venues around South Africa including an inaugural event in Pretoria.

On the continent there was commercial growth across a spectrum of sporting codes. Fox Networks Group in Africa announced an agreement with Facebook that will see FOX Sports' Africa Boxing series events livestreamed globally via Facebook Watch. The partnership officially kicked off at the ninth edition of Africa Boxing at the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World in Limpopo, South Africa, with the event being streamed to almost 200,000 viewers.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) awarded the Kenyan capital of Nairobi hosting rights to the 2020 edition of its World U20 Championships. Nairobi’s candidacy was formally endorsed by the IAAF Council. It comes after Nairobi last year hosted the final edition of the IAAF World U18 Championships. The 2020 event will take place from July 7-12. Crowds of up to 60,000 attended last year’s event at the Moi International Sports Centre and the IAAF said that Nairobi “demonstrated its readiness to take the next step as a championship host”.

2018 was a tough economic year for all, it required strategic execution to deliver on commercial ambitions, the 2018 Sport Industry Awards validated this. Once again congratulation to all our winners at this year’s Awards.

With this being the last edition of the newsletter for 2018, we wish all our readers a wonderful festive season and a very happy New Year. With the Rugby and Cricket World Cups scheduled to take place in 2019, we look forward to yet another great sporting year.

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The Year that Was