How to watch SABC channels for free

South African Broadcasting Corporation is the national broadcaster of the Republic of South Africa. It is funded by TV licences and commercial advertising. SABC offers 5 TV channels in addition to about 20 radio stations.

SABC TV broadcasts are legally only available to residents of South Africa.

SABC TV Channels

  • SABC1 – a community public service South African television channel broadcast which carries programming in English and Nguni
  • SABC2 – a South African family public television channel that broadcasts programming in English, Afrikaans, Venda, and Tsonga
  • SABC3 – it features a large proportion of foreign TV series, primarily in the English language
  • SABC News – a 24-hours news channel that features South African & international news plus current affairs programming
  • SABC Encore – a 24-hour free-to-air digital satellite and digital terrestrial television retro rerun channel

It is technically not possible to watch SABC channels completely free-of-charge when you consider the TV licence fees of R265 per annum. There is an option of paying R28 per month but this amounts to R336 per year. While the payment compliance varies, SABC still raises a portion of its income from licence fees. All the other medium of broadcast listed below aside free-to-air involve some form of on-going cost.

Free-to-Air TV

Considering SABC is government-owned and publicly funded, they are required by law to cover as much of the South African population as possible. Free-to-air terrestrial broadcast is one of the primary means and is available to most of South Africa, especially the urban areas.

As of December 2019, SABC broadcasts all 5 TV channels using analogue and digital (DVB-T2) signals.

It is noteworthy that the analogues signals are planned to be shut-down eventually so the TV frequencies can be redeployed to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for mobile/wireless broadband services.

To receive the SABC TV signals, you only need to purchase a new TV set. Most modern TVs come with in-built analogue and digital tuners. An external antenna is very helpful, especially where you live further away from the nearest broadcast mast in the urban areas or are obscured by concrete structures or heavy natural landscapes.

You do not need the exact broadcast frequencies. More so, the exact channel per location depends on nearest Sentech repeater. A modern TV set can auto-scan and memorize the frequencies of all the strong TV signals it can pick nearby.

The digital TV option offers the best experience where the signal is strong enough. Not only is picture/sound much clearer, some additional data services (like programming information) ride on the digital signal too.

OpenView HD

OpenView is a Free To View Direct Broadcast Satellite television provider in South Africa that offers some TV and radio broadcast for free. To enjoy the service, you need to reside in South Africa and purchase the start-up kit. The details are available here.

Among the 5 SABC channels, OpenView only offers SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3. The channels are not in high-definition but good enough and come with full programming schedules.

SABC does not seem to have a direct contract with the owners of OpenView, for this carriage.

Free DTH Satellite

SABC channels are also broadcasted direct-to-home (DTH) by Sentech on Intelsat 20 at 68.5°E: 11514 V. Of the 5 channels, only SABC News (HD) and SABC Encore are unencrypted.

Almost-free DStv

At 29 Rands per month, DStv’s EasyView bouquet is very affordable and comes with all 5 SABC TV channels in addition to some other 32 channels including e.TV, Soweto TV, Bay TV, 1 KZN, Tshwane TV, Cape Town TV, GauTV, Lesotho TV. An annual payment also includes a free month.

Live Streaming

SABC News and SABC 2 regularly live stream important urgent national events live events on YouTube. There is no static link. Each live stream comes up with a different address and so we cannot link to it.

All the SABC TV channels have their online channels on YouTube. They feature news, current affairs, documentaries and the occasional live broadcasts by SABC News.

A lot of the TV series broadcast are available for free on YouTube though some of them are now being moved to the Viu app.

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