Nation Media Group (NMG) has won the rights to screen the World Cup soccer tournament to be held in Russia from 14th June this year. NTV, which is owned and run by NMG, beat other contenders, including national broadcaster KBC, to clinch the lucrative rights to show the World Cup matches in Kenya.
NTV has secured the rights from Kwese TV, a regional free to air and pay television service. Kwese is operated by Econet Media, which is owned by Zimbabwean billionaire entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa. Econet Media won the rights through a FIFA tender in March last year to offer “by way of free-to-air and pay-TV transmission for exploitation in all territories of sub Saharan Africa except South Africa.”
NMG is expected to officially sign the deal with Kwese this morning at Nation Centre. It is a big score for NTV as it will earn the company not just advertising revenues, but also bigger audience which it can hopefully retain beyond the World Cup. But there questions on whether NTV has the nationwide reach that KBC enjoys, which enables it to reach as many viewers even in far-flung regions where private broadcasters find it expensive to have masts.
It also gives the TV station, pummeled by staff exits, some bragging rights in the industry as getting the rights is in itself a psychological booster. But with SuperSport and StarTimes having payTV rights to the tournament, NTV will rely more on the free to air viewers who of course form the majority of TV audience in Kenya.
On the other hand, it is a major blow to KBC, which has always secured the World Cup rights as Kenya’s national broadcaster. Initially, the FIFA World Cup media rights were sold through the African Union of Broadcasting, a professional body composed of the national radio and television organisations of African states. By virtue of its membership composition, the rights went automatically to national broadcasters.
Kwese entered the Kenyan market in August 2016, launching Kwese Free Sports channel. The sports broadcaster was launched in early 2016 to tap the African sports TV.
Multichoice owned SuperSport and Startimes have also been granted pay-TV transmission” for exploitation in all territories of sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa.”
SABC was given rights in South Africa, CANAL+ got pay-TV transmission for exploitation in sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa and Nigeria.
“The outcome of this tender process enables FIFA to reach its aim of securing the widest possible coverage across the region with the highest profile matches available on a free-to-air basis,” said FIFA’s Chief Commercial Officer Philippe Le Floc’. “By working together with reliable partners in the region, FIFA will make sure that football fans have access to a high-quality viewing experience for each of the FIFA events, including by way of digital platforms.”
The 42 territories are: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Congo DR, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.