Vodacom launches Sports Radio, providing English Premier League live commentary – the mobile operator as media platform

10 September 2021

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The English Premier League is a key element of premium sports content and in launching Sports Radio, Vodacom is betting that it will attract a significant number of users. Increasingly mobile operators have to think of themselves as media platforms and as the email interview with the company below shows it builds on their existing football content portfolio.

Q: The service is currently in South Africa. So you have the audio rights for Sub- Saharan Africa? Did you buy these directly or from Multichoice?

A: Vodacom have partnered with a local rights aggregator to bring the official English Premier League (EPL) live audio commentaries to South Africa on Sports Radio. The aggregator has licensed the rights directly from UK based Talksport who are the exclusive global audio rights partner of the EPL. These rights are independent and not held by Multichoice. Talksport provide Sports Radio with official live and on-demand audio coverage of all of the Premier League's 380 matches. Talksport have provided live Premier League commentary since 2007 and are renowned for the quality of their audio production, commentary, analysis and presentation.

Q: Are there plans to roll-out Vodacom Sports Radio across your other Sub-Saharan Africa territories?

A: At this stage our focus is primarily on South Africa.

Q: What's the content on Vodacom Sports Radio? Is there exclusive content on the channel?

A: The key objective for Sports Radio initially is to provide the live audio commentaries and related sports content of the EPL on a digital platform in a convenient and affordable way for our subscribers. All digital audio commentaries for the English Premier League and FA Cup can be found exclusively on Sports Radio in South Africa for all Vodacom users. In addition to the commentaries, we have also included a range of current and continually refreshed podcasts from Talksport, as well as a selection from their podcast library, that can be listened to in between match days. Whilst majority of these podcasts relate to the Premier League itself, such as previews, reviews, and analyses, the podcasts also include discussions and interviews across other sports such as cricket, boxing and rugby.

Q: It's early days but what has the take-up been like? What are the numbers like in broad terms (00s? 000s? 0,000s?)?

It has been extremely early days since the product launched, however we have seen several thousand users visit the platform during our launch. As we begin to ramp up on our marketing efforts, we expect the numbers to increase and for engagement to grow.

Q: How does the Vodacom Sports Channel fit into your sports content offering? Do you do rugby and cricket?

A: Vodacom has a tradition of providing various sports content offers to our customers. We have had the Vodacom Soccer portal informing football fans with news and stats on both USSD and web for almost 8 years. We also have a Vodacom Fantasy League product that allows Vodacom customers to pick build their best fantasy teams and partake in a score predictor game, with the opportunity to win airtime on a near daily basis. In the upcoming months we are looking to expand our digital sports and brands offering to include more sports and more interactive products for Vodacom customer to enjoy.

Q: How does sport fit into your broader online content and services offerings?

A: Sports, like music and gaming, is a critical category and passion point which is enjoyed by millions of South Africans on a daily basis, and Vodacom’s mission is to democratise access as much as possible to these services. Whether through broad content service portals like Vodacom live!, stand-alone services like MyMuze or Sports Radio, or interest specific portals like our recently launched kids portal Kaboodle, Vodacom seeks to cater for as many passion points as practical for the benefit of digital inclusion across the country

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