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Beyond broadcasting rights

Thanks to advances in technology, sports and all of its related spectacles have come so far in recent times. This meant that we can easily, in real-time, broadcast sports coverages, and enable billions of people around the world take part in the spectacle and excitement of major sporting events around the world. Apart from the enjoyment, this has opened new doors to broadcasters and sports teams; an opportunity to commercialize sports through broadcasting rights. And through the years, this has played a pivotal role in the blossoming of sports and sports-related business.

Hence, broadcasting rights have long being the backbone of many sport clubs across the world, with media organizations paying huge sums of money to get exclusive rights to broadcast top sporting events, targeting lucrative advertisement deals in connection to such sporting events. The sale of such rights is now one of the biggest sources of revenue, generating the funds needed to finance events.

Most European football associations have already signed deals for exclusive broadcast rights amounting in billions, with certain portion of this funding going to clubs, at the end of each season.

Following in the footsteps of their European counterparts, many African leagues as well are selling their TV rights to broadcasters. Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and several African football leagues are among those keenly working with TV right holders.

Ethiopia, a country that has more than 100 million people, has just started to commercialize the national league, through the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) and Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) share company. Invited, interested bidders are already submitting their offers for broadcasting rights and sponsorship deals. According to sources, three contenders are bidding for the title sponsorship of the EPL. The French-based Canal+, the Chinese Star Times and Super Sport, are in the running, according to the same source.

However, various analysts have pointed out that before delving into an agreement, the league share company needs to first look at what the league is planning to achieve from the sale, in addition to the financial gain. Furthermore, the bidding process must follow proper requirements which include technical and financial documents.

Canal +, one of companies vying to gain entry to the market, is a well-known brand and already has a relationship with the French league which did not cost much in getting the rights.

The other one, Star Times, which is Chinese-owned and has some experience in the African market, has the rights to the Ghana Premier league. However, this relationship was fraught with issues starting from not broadcasting the game despite scheduling to broadcast, to reducing the initial bid amount promised, in the middle of the contract. Their relationship has been rocky to say the least, but is believed to be stabilizing with the Ghanaian league settling for a lesser payment than what was initially proposed.

It is rumored that the Star Times have a huge lead in the bid, sources close to the matter pointed out.

Meanwhile, Super Sport of the Multichoice group (DSTV), a major player in the African market, has a huge presence in the Ethiopian. Super sport has the rights to various African leagues like Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and the South African Premier Division, referred to as the PSL. 

Analysts urged the body overseeing the bid, not to focus on the direct financial gains but rather focus on the long-term benefits to football in Ethiopia, the exposure that the players and clubs will receive by partnering with a certain broadcaster, and the viewership that the league would get, which in-turn will mean more financial benefits in the long run.