On Wednesday, MultiChoice Group revealed that it had failed to acquire the broadcasting rights for the African Cup Of Nations (AFCON).
The broadcast powerhouse said its SuperSport channel is unlikely to show the competition billed to commence on January 13 in Ivory Coast.
Super Eagles will play the host country, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau in Group A — and Nigerian football fans had hoped to watch the competition live on SuperSport.
With less than ten days to the tournament, the news by MultiChoice has hurt the viewing options of many football fans in sub-Saharan African countries.
MultiChoice, through DStv and GOtv, has over 23 million subscribers across 50 African countries. The company remains one of Africa’s biggest broadcast powerhouses with a lengthy history of consistently broadcasting continental football competitions.
HOW THEN DID MULTICHOICE FAIL TO SECURE BROADCASTING RIGHTS?
In December 2023, CAF announced a “historic media rights agreement” with New World TV, a Togolese audio-visual group, to broadcast all the federation’s 13 competitions to the sub-Saharan African audience for two years.
Patrice Motsepe, CAF president, described the contract as “the biggest investment by a Pan-African broadcaster in CAF’s history”.
The deal, which will hold from 2023-2025, encompasses the forthcoming AFCON and the tournament’s next edition.
According to SABC, the broadcast contract is worth R1.5 billion or $80 million.
The deal means that any TV station that intends to broadcast the tournaments would have to go through New World TV, effectively knocking MultiChoice out of the race.
WHAT IS NEW WORLD TV?
New World TV is a broadcast company founded in 2015 in Lome, the capital of Togo. The company has Free-to-Air (FTA) and Pay TV licences and is active in over 16 African countries — mainly Francophone nations.
However, in March 2021, the broadcast company from a tiny West African country with a gross domestic product (GDP) of just $8 billion stunned the world when it acquired the rights to broadcast the Qatar 2022 World Cup in Francophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The company also secured the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024/2028 European Championships rights.
According to The Africa Report, New World TV is run by a Paris-based team headed by Kolani Nimonka, the company’s general manager.
There are reports that the Togolese government backs the company. The claims began after the government reportedly provided logistical and security support when New World TV brought several football stars like Emmanuel Petit, Marcel Desailly, and Emmanuel Adebayor to the country for a two-day workshop in September 2023.
However, New World TV refuted the reports. The company said it is being backed by local banks in Togo.
THE LIMITATIONS OF NEW WORLD TV
For all its ambition and financial muscle, New World TV is still in its infancy regarding audience reach across Africa. Its operation is still limited to 19 Francophone countries across the continent.
New World TV had a little over 100,000 subscribers in mid-2022. The number pales in comparison to the cross-continental spread of MultiChoice, Canal+ and BeIn.
There were also reports that the company suffered cyberattacks during its 2022 FIFA World Cup broadcast.
Due to its limited audience reach, New World TV would be looking to sub-licence the AFCON broadcast rights to Free-To-Air stations in African countries and Pay TV platforms.
WHERE CAN WE WATCH AFCON THEN?
Except for audiences in Francophone countries, no other Pay TV provider has announced plans to air the forthcoming AFCON.
There are reports that MultiChoice is still in talks with New World TV over sublicencing for English-speaking countries, but the details or stage of the deal remain candlestine.
On January 2, StarTimes Kenya announced that it would be airing the competition.
“AFCON 2023 will be live on StarTimes! Which team are you supporting to win the title? You can watch ALL AFCON matches live on StarTimes sports channels or stream via the StarTimes ON mobile app starting Jan 13!” the company said on Instagram.
A source close to StarTimes Nigeria told TheCable that the broadcast service will air the competition in Nigeria. He added that StarTimes had struck a sublicencing deal with New World TV, and an official announcement would be made soon.