What you need to know:
- Will Kenyans, at least the football-loving ones, now rush to acquire the Azam decoder and/or mobile phone app in anticipation of watching live transmitted FKF Premier League matches?
- This will be the sale Azam and FKF will have to make. Azam needs to go into overdrive promoting the Kenyan league. They will need all hands on deck – media, influencers, clubs, fans, the works.
After many months in darkness, the Football Kenya Federation Premier League is about to be seen around the world, literally.
Last Thursday, FKF and Tanzania-based pay TV station Azam signed a broadcast rights deal for Kenya’s Premier League.
When the invite to attend the partnership signing ceremony hit my in-box a day earlier, my heart picked up several extra beats.
God knows Kenya’s top club football competition has been crying out for live television broadcast and the spin-off effects that come with it including increased interest and interactions of fans.
I must confess that having covered the ground-breaking broadcast rights deal between South Africa-based SuperSport and the Kenyan Premier League Ltd in 2007, I was curious to attend the Azam TV deal to compare the two events for my intellectual satisfaction.
Nothing should be read in comparing the two events, 16 years apart, other than to satisfy this inquisitive mind.
The 2007 SuperSport deal was then worth $5.5 million over four years. It was the first time in the, then, 44-year history of Kenya’s top league that clubs had agreed with a broadcaster on beaming their chief product live to the rest of the world.
That same year another pay television station, London-based Gateway Television (GTV), now defunct, signed an astonishing $6 million four-year deal with Cecafa for exclusive rights to all the council’s competitions.
The deal remains (though it never lasted the four years) the biggest sports broadcast sponsorship in the region to date. Those were good times for local football, but I digress.
The Azam TV-FKF partnership signing ceremony was attended by the top bosses of the two organisations, who, to my utter confusion, quoted dissimilar figures during their respective presentations.
The Azam Media Chief Operating Officer Yahya Mohammed, mentioned a five-year Sh300 million deal, while FKF president Nick Mwendwa announced a seven-year deal, initially worth $1 million (about Sh146 million) for the first year but to increase by $100,000 (Sh14.6m) every year. That would translate to a total worth of $9.1m (Sh1.3 billion).
Unfortunately, and incomprehensibly, there was no Q and A after the presentations for matters to be clarified.
The federation did issue a press statement after the function indicating the deal was for seven years, worth $1 million the first year, and to increase by 10 per cent every year. By my calculations, the entire deal would come to $9.49 million (Sh1.38bn) or to be exact $9,487,071 (Sh1,384,163,658).
Because of these different figures being bandied about, various media outlets, not surprising, reported different numbers as well.
Just to mention a few. AFP’s report of the day mentioned the figures announced by the Azam COO, while Nation went with what the Kenyan football boss had stated.
The evening sports bulletin on KTN quoted the FKF statement.
That same night when I reached out to the top FKF management over the conflicting media reports. I was told that the statement issued that afternoon clarified everything. How I wish that statement would also have clarified what the Azam TV CEO and FKF president had earlier said just to clear the air.
The 2007 SuperSport broadcast contract was covered extensively and there was no question about the figures and finer details. In fact, to their credit, SuperSport pushed hard to get all Kenyans on board.
I remember everybody who attended the 2007 launch was gifted a GOtv decoder that would give them instant access to the live Kenyan Premier League matches. If you were at the function you could not help but just love SuperSport. We spread the good word around.
How I wish Azam TV, considering they will be sinking hundreds of millions of shillings in this project, would have unleashed a media blitz over this contract with FKF.
How I wish they would have put in paid for adverts in major media houses, engaged social media influencers to give the public teasers about the impending development. Hype matters before the big announcement the way sponsors of major events do.
Sports is an entertainment business. It is about the big moments, the buzz and razzmatazz. The Azam billion-shilling deal felt like a whimper yet it should have been the talk of town for days to come.
Or am I overthinking here?
Martin Abuya the Azam Media Kenya General Manager did say the station’s motto was “Entertainment for Everybody”. That Azam TV offers over 100 channels and will have one exclusively dedicated to the Kenyan league..
He further revealed that the Tanzanian-owned media organisation had different bands of subscription from as low as Sh300 to as high as Sh1,400.
Will Kenyans, at least the football-loving ones, now rush to acquire the Azam decoder and/or mobile phone app in anticipation of watching live transmitted FKF Premier League matches?
This will be the sale Azam and FKF will have to make. Azam needs to go into overdrive promoting the Kenyan league. They will need all hands on deck – media, influencers, clubs, fans, the works.
Our Kenya, our football, our regional broadcaster. Right?