Lovers of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) reacted with joy when the news of a broadcast production agreement between the league’s organizers, League Management Company (LMC) and Nigeria Televison Authority (NTA) broke out last week.
They have every right to be happy, as the just-ended league season recorded the lowest TV match coverage in the last four years due to renewal talks between the LMC and South African based company, Multichoice, owners of SuperSport kept under wraps.
The signing of the agreement by LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko and NTA’s Director General Yakubu Ibn Muhammed was the product of years of preparations by the LMC to control the production of the league content but in truth, not many understood the deal.
Beyond the euphoria of the announcement and expectation, ACLSports asked pertinent questions about the deal from LMC’s Head of Special Projects, Harry Iwuala and we arrive at these seven important facts.
- Just like in EPL and La Liga, the LMC will now oversee the production and distribution of rights.
“There is going to be a private production company that will produce and distribute the images. In broadcast, online and on all platforms,” Iwuala told www.aclsports.com.
Previously, the broadcast right owners have always done the production by themselves, a burdensome approach. This surely means that there will be more buyers of the right (than one) and the content will be made accessible to all.
- NTA will provide their 8 (eight) Outside Broadcast (OB) Vans, which have HD facilities for this purpose.
Many of the OB Vans were purchased at a high cost before the Under 17 World Cup in 2009 but have not been put to proper use. This new deal will see to the full utilization of these government resources and additionally, NTA staff and others that will join them will be fully mobilized.
- Since it is their business, LMC will assist in upgrading of the equipment “for global competitiveness”.
“The operation of the company, as envisaged will rely on the services of international technical partners and domestic expertise to provide the much needed vehicle for the production of high quality programmes and events for broadcast in the sports and entertainment industries. This model is in keeping with proven international best practices in sports content production, distribution and broadcast,” LMC Chair, Dikko said during the signing.
Sequel to this, Iwuala informed us that “there is an ongoing audit of what is in the OB Vans, so once the audit is completed, we will find out what things that are not there and what things that needed to be upgraded.”
- There will be production for all ten games, even if all may not go on live.
The availability of ten OB Vans across each match venue makes it possible and easy for production, but according to Iwuala, the only thing left is for the platforms to air the games.
He gave this illustration: “Channels TV could decide to buy the right to a match in Agege while another outfit might buy one in Ilorin.”
With NTA supplying the OB Vans, it is most likely that the government-owned agency will have access to broadcasting games live to Nigerians especially seeing they have stations in each state in Nigeria.
- Games will now be spread out, more than ever before
“We will look at the issue of timing so that we could have some early kick-offs and midday kick-offs so that they will find space for the first games to end,” added Iwuala.
In recent seasons, the LMC have started innovations such as the Friday Night games, Double-Headers etc. It is expected now that these ideas will easily flow into the new broadcast regime.
- The NPFL/La Liga partnership also extends to this broadcast production deal
The deal between these two leagues has seen some interesting developments over the past 12 months. An NPFL All Star team went on a tour of Spain last summer before La Liga backed an Under-15 tournament among NPFL clubs in April. Here is another intriguing detail.
“There are ongoing discussions with La Liga to have their production company provide technical expertise. The same company producing for La Liga produces for the EPL, so they are going to provide the technical expertise for the initial period,” Iwuala stated.
- Win-Win Situation for viewers and buyers of the broadcast rights.
After the disappointment of the TV blackout at one stage of the just concluded season comes this cheering development and for the fans, Harry said:
“As a matter of fact, most times Nigerians complain that they can only see one or two matches in a week. Now is an opportunity for more games to be seen.”
SuperSport reportedly crumbled under the weight of having to buy the broadcast right and still bear 100% responsibility of the production cost, but for would-be buyers as from the next season, the production is taken care of.
We wait to see the actualization of these.