Football drives technology revolution

The effect of the 2010 World Cup on the various sectors of our economy - especially on the information-communications-technology sector - has once again being confirmed.

The effect of the 2010 World Cup on the various sectors of our economy - especially on the information-communications-technology sector - has once again being confirmed.

The 2010 World Cup Organising Committee is pleased that a very important member of the South African corporate sector, Telkom, has now officially joined the tournament as a national supporter.

The new membership brings to three the number of our companies who have so far committed huge resources to this major event.

Financial services giant FNB, MTN and Telkom have committed almost R1 billion to the effort to make the World Cup in South Africa the most successful ever.

On the commercial front, as the CEO of the Local Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan, has repeatedly said the World Cup in 2010 has so far surpassed Germany's in revenues earned by Fifa.

These revenues come from various sources, particularly from television.

Football is a major driver of television audiences around the world. It is thus not surprising that the World Cup, all 64 matches over 30 days, is going to be watched by close on 40 billion cumulative viewers around the world.

Where previously these would have been generated only by TV, viewers in the next few years are going to be using a variety of new technologies to watch the games.

Given the natural ease with which South Africans adopt new technologies I anticipate a large number of people viewing matches on their cellphones, the internet and the yet unknown new gizmos.

The demand for this type of content also creates demand for more capacity and development of telecommunications infrastructure.

Many consumers have generally complained about the poor availability of broadband capacity in the country as well as high costs of telephony.

The involvement of Telkom will help fast-track the provision of some of this infrastructure.

The pressure is definitely going to be on the company to bring consumer costs down as well as provide additional services that will entice new consumers.

By the time we reach 2010, high-definition television will be available in South Africa and in itself, this technology will require new capacity.

There will also be new television broadcasters vying for the same audiences. So competition is going to be fierce.

The business models of broadcasters are going to change fundamentally, the delivery of content is also going to change substantially.

The viewers are going to be spoilt for choice and football is going to be the key driver. The important thing to consider about these developments is that they will be happening around an event being held here in South Africa, but will have a worldwide effect.

l Tim Modise is the 2010 World Cup SA Local Organising Committee's head of communications. - For your suggestions, e-mail TimM@2010saloc.com

X