The company said in a press statement on 2 July that it had partnered with SuperSport and NBA Africa to bring fans live sporting events.
It said the offered content would include events such as the 2019 NBA Finals, Women’s World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, UEFA Champions and Europa leagues, ABSA Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and Serie A.
“It goes without saying that Africa is sport-loving continent, so it makes perfect sense for us to bring African sports fans what they love,” YouTube content partnerships lead Dayo Olopade said.
“Today we are here to say we hear you and we are more than happy to bring you the content you desire, in partnership with SuperSport, NBA Africa, and our other partners,” Olopade added.
YouTube noted that “South African can now catch NBA basketball fixtures, La Liga 123 matches and UFC matches live on YouTube”.
The remaining sporting events, YouTube said, would be pre-packaged video on demand.
SuperSport Disputes YouTube Statement
Soon after the statement was released, SuperSport said the reference to the live-streaming element by YouTube was false and misleading.
SuperSport said it was engaging with YouTube about the misstatement to give clarity on the issue.
“Our live streaming policy on YouTube is focused on youth and emerging sport with none of the traditional rights holders involved at all – this would be in conflict with our broadcast arrangements,” SuperSport said.
YouTube told MyBroadband that SuperSport has a channel on YouTube with over a million subscribers where it packages highlights for the sports listed in the press release.
YouTube Changes and Retracts its Statement
Following the dispute with SuperSport, YouTube retracted its initial press release and issued a new statement without any mention of SuperSport.
This was followed by yet another statement, and finally a full retraction of the press release, along with a request not to publish anything regarding the issue.
This left many South Africans confused as to what YouTube will offer its users and what SuperSport’s involvement was in the offering.
The company has now released the statement below to clarify the issue.
YouTube Statement About Sports Streaming
YouTube would like to clarify earlier statements regarding its sports content offering, which were inaccurately portrayed in the press.
YouTube works closely with broadcasters and rights holders in order to distribute their sporting events on the YouTube platform. In Sub-Saharan Africa, YouTube works with partners including SuperSport, which owns the exclusive regional broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, FIFA Women’s World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, among other franchises.
SuperSport’s YouTube channel, which recently hit one million subscribers, publishes select video-on-demand highlights packages where permitted – which means fans across Africa can watch edited highlights of selected games after they have first aired live on SuperSport.
“SuperSport uses YouTube to grow sport fandom and reach digital audiences that are searching for sports content in Sub-Saharan Africa,” says Gideon Khobane, CEO of SuperSport.
“All content curated and published on YouTube is fully in SuperSport’s editorial control and in accordance with their broadcast and transmission rights agreements with rights holders.”
Live streaming is different from uploading highlights to stream on demand, and SuperSport has made no current agreement for live distribution of global or local sports franchises on YouTube.
YouTube does not own or license any of the underlying broadcast rights, and SuperSport publishes clips, highlights and ancillary sport content to YouTube at its complete discretion.
“We know audiences are excited about sports content on YouTube and we are pleased to help fans discover more of the sports they love, in collaboration with our global and local partners,” says YouTube content partnerships lead Dayo Olopade. “We apologise for any confusion caused.”
No comment from SuperSport
SuperSport was asked for feedback about the latest developments, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.