In the last few years, televising lives games between African football teams has come at a steep premium but all that is set to change as South African pay TV channel SuperSport have acquired the rights to televise as many as 50 live AFCON qualifiers including high profile games involving the continents two key football markets- Nigeria and South Africa.
SuperSport have announced plans to broadcast these qualifiers which will occur over six weekends, starting in September till November. The channel has announced that it will televise a minimum of seven games every match weekend with Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia and Angola all set to receive high priority screening. Other key football markets such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Algeria and Egypt will be featured in the broadcasts as well but only in the latter stages of the qualification series.
The company’s Acting Chief Executive Brandon Foot signalled the delight of the organization with the acquisition of the rights. “I’m delighted because this is the first time we have secured a block of Afcon qualifiers. With World Cup fever still in the air, it’s a great time to be a football fan. Games on SuperSport will come thick and fast: just as fans want.”
The news comes as a huge relief to Africans as matches involving football teams in the recent months have been rarely televised. This is because Sportfive- rights owners of the AFCON, the African Nations’ Championship, African Under-20 championship, CAF Champions League, CAF Confederations Cup and CAF Super Cup- have usually demanded enormous fees to sell these rights to terrestrial broadcasters on the continent.
At the time of the AFCON in 2012. Sportfive reportedly requested $1.3 million from African broadcasters interested in purchasing the rights. Following a compromise, the amount was set at $800,000- a figure still beyond the reach of many terrestrial broadcasters. In showing that Sportfive figures were thought to be exorbitant, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation noted that it had paid only $150,000 for broadcast rights of the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
At the next AFCON in 2013, a similar situation occurred with Sportfive reportedly requesting $8 million from the Broadcasting Operations of Nigeria to screen the AFCON with the Nigerian body refusing to meet the demands only to reach a compromise to enable the screening of the the final once the national team- the Super Eagles qualified.
As such, it is great news for many across the continent that starting with the qualification series for the 2015 AFCON in Morocco, the game that means a lot to many across the continent will once again be readily available for their viewing pleasure.