The football broadcast landscape in Kenya is changing. More competition is joining the football space. This translates to quality programming for the diehard football fans. Not only that but also viewers get presented with different options to choose from. Most individuals rely on the Pay TV service provider Dstv to catch the latest football action. Dstv subscription does not come cheaply from Multichoice. The cost of this service locks out many football fans who would have wished to acquire one. Catching the match from the local joint is what many football enthusiasts resort to. Others flock the local video studio dens to catch the latest action.
Luckily three free-to-air media houses have ventured into this space. This is good news for those who own the free-to-air set top boxes. At no cost at all you get to enjoy this premium football content. Though they will not be airing all the football matches but the effort is still appreciated. This reminds us of what the national broadcaster, KBC, used to do back in the days. KBC used to be the go to station to catch the latest Bundesliga action. Unfortunately, long gone are those days.
What kind of football content do we expect from these three free-to-air broadcasters? We will take a look at each of the three media houses and the type of football rights they have acquired. Below is a breakdown of the football leagues each of the three media houses will be airing together with additional programming.
KTN acquired the Free-To-Air (FTA) rights to broadcast one of the most celebrated leagues in Kenya, the Barclays Premier League. This matches have been airing on KTN Home every Saturday.
During the launch, Standard Group Managing Director (Broadcast), Mr.Joe Munene, had the following to say;
This is in line with our commitment to deliver to our viewers the best in the world of entertainment. Although the matches will be on Saturday, the schedule is flexible to ensure our viewers get the best of the world’s most exciting football league.
He went ahead to add;
We shall tap into the knowledge of our talented staff from KTN, Radio Maisha and print divisions for analysis and we also look forward to inviting expert opinion from elsewhere.
Something to note is that KTN airs only the match analysis when the matches run concurrently with Dstv’s Supersport broadcast.
To top it up every Tuesday at 8pm KTN Home broadcasts one-hour highlights.
Mediamax Network Limited through K24, its television broadcast channel, entered into a media rights agreement with pay television company Startimes to broadcast selected matches from the Italian league. Startimes, though a Pay Television Company, has acquired the broadcast rights for the Italian Serie A for the three seasons running from 2015/16 up to2017/18.
Startimes extended the exclusive right for the matches by Free-To-Air transmission. This granted K24 the right to broadcast any 38 Live Serie A matches both on weekends and midweek. To add to it they also get to air 38 previews and supporting shows through the season.
Mediamax CEO, Mr.Ian Fernandes, had the following to say during the signing ceremony;
Indeed this is a positive step not just in providing entertainment content for our viewers but also in growing access to programming that provide exposure and that can possibly contribute to the development of our homegrown talents through the public viewership of the best practices that is the Italian Serie A.
StarTimes Vice President, Mr.Mark Lisboa, had this to say during the launch;
With K24 broadcasting the Serie A, we are sure over 70% of Kenyans have access to this premium sport having recently added to our reach with the roll out of our Machakos, Naivasha, Embu and Kapenguria digital television signals. It is in the same spirit of growing access to sports content that we are currently rewarding subscribers with free sports bouquets for each subscription renewal made.
Kwese Free Sports TV
Econet Media, a subsidiary of the Econet Group, acquired the package of Free-To-Air broadcasting rights for the English Premier League in Sub-Saharan Africa. The rights run for three seasons. Yes, you heard that right. From the beginning of the current season, 2016/2017, till the end of the 2018/2019 English Premier League season.
This has seen Econet airing one Saturday afternoon English Premier League football match live on its free to air sports channel, Kwese Free Sports TV. The rights also grant them authority to broadcast weekly preview and review shows. 50 countries in the Sub-Saharan region are enjoying this service of which Kenya is one of them. For the internet gurus you can also catch the football online from Econet’s platform.
To secure a return on its undisclosed investment in the rights, Kwese Sports will also act in the capacity as an agent for these rights. This will facilitate their distribution to free-to-air channels across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kwese Free Sports TV is about a month old in Kenya. If you cannot find it in the list of saved digital TV channels then you will need to re-scan your decoder.
This is what Econet Media CEO, Mr. Joseph Hundah, had to say in regard to acquisition of these rights:
England’s Premier League is a globally prestigious sporting competition, one that is deeply loved by millions of African sports fans. As such we are very committed to obtaining these rights and have invested significantly to acquire them. We want to make this League available to fans across Sub-Saharan Africa and so, through Kwesé Sports FTA partners and other platforms, we hope to widen access to this property.
On the other hand, Premier League Executive Chairman, Mr.Richard Scudamore, said;
We are very pleased that Econet Media has chosen to invest in the package of free-to-air broadcasting rights that we have made available in Sub-Saharan Africa. These rights will see Econet’s new Kwesé Sports platform make available one free-to-air match live every Saturday, as well as a weekly preview and highlights programme, for fans in 50 countries across the region. Premier League clubs enjoy passionate support across Sub-Saharan Africa and these rights are important to ensuring that as many fans as possible can follow and enjoy our competition.
As a bonus, Econet has also acquired the rights to broadcast the National Basketball Association (NBA), Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC), Formula E Championship, AVIVA Premiership Rugby and the National Football League (NFL) for free on Kwese Free Sports TV.
We do not expect the above three options to consume major football leagues to cause turbulence for Dstv. Supersport still maintains the rights for extensive coverage of the Barclays Premier League. But the option to watch just one Premier League game, even on mobile devices, absolutely free is something that sits well with the common man. All the three media houses saw the existing problem. The subscription for premium European football was expensive. They have taken the first step. We hope to see more like these in the near future.