MARKETING AFRICA MAL 18/17 mal 18:17 online - Page 95

available in 19 countries in Sub- Saharan Africa including Kenya. The phenomenon growth has been heavily subsidized by the magnate’s pocket with a steady revenue stream yet to be clearly outlined. In April of 2017, Kwese Sports signed a deal with US-based sports broadcasting powerhouse ESPN to air the exclusive ESPN channel on the Kwese’ TV bouquet. In addition to this, the two have partnered to provide online content to leverage ESPN’s position as the world’s leading digital sports brand to ride on Kwese Sports pan-African spread. As a discerning sports fan, I was taken by surprise when clicking on the www.espn.com link only to be redirected to the www. KweseESPN.com website. Kwese Sports has also sought to develop a mobile application (Kwese TV Everywhere app) to give its audiences 24/7 access to the latest happenings in sports across the world. On paper, this looks good and veritable, though from a commercial perspective, as they would say, ‘Show me the Money!’ All rosy thus? Not so fast … According to accounts in the US, ESPN too has not been doing as well it may look. With the millennials and older audiences in the US market turning away from cable TV as well as the pricey rate tags attached to the various sports they seek to broadcast, it is looking like a tough time indeed. As late as March 2017, the company cut several middle and lower level jobs to save hundreds of millions in operating costs. It also dropped some of its highly paid sports casters to put a lid on the wage bill. In the same time though, the subscriber numbers have continued to drop in their hundreds of thousands. Back to Kwese Sports, a cheeky friend of mine reminded me that ‘‘ Sports associations may also need to review how they price some of their products. While it is agreeable not to settle for less, the increasingly expensive sports media rights will eventually price most media companies out and the bubble will burst on all – to the detriment of the sports associations, teams and sports fans.’’ the now-defunct Gateway TV (GTV ) had a similar color hue (Orange). GTV had taken the African sub-continent by storm in the mid-2000s and even secured the rights to the EPL for a season almost running SuperSport out of town before closing shop unceremoniously in 2008-9. The company had signed TV rights deals with major African leagues including Ghana and Uganda, to name but a few (sounds familiar …?) Future’s here? What then does the future of sports broadcasting portend? Social media site Facebook announced in May that it will provide live coverage of Major League Baseball games on its Facebook Live platform. This is bound to be a major shift in sports consumption and likely to be noted by other major sporting disciplines. Online live streaming as has been by YouTube of major sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup will be pursued too.