AFCON viewership grows by over 60% in two years

RBA Director General Arthur Asiimwe gives his remarks at the African Union of Broadcasting meeting in Kigali last year.

The Africa Cup of Nations viewership has increased by over 60 per cent from 13 countries in 2017 to 30 countries currently, according to Arthur Asiimwe, the second Vice president of the African Union of Broadcasting.

The development is significant, he said, adding that for many years broadcasting rights for African football were run by non-Africans charging exorbitant prices, hence few countries could afford it.

“In our last AUB meeting in Kigali, President Paul Kagame helped African broadcasters in engaging CAF to ensure that more of its tournaments are viewed on the continent.

“Broadcasters had complained to the President that football rights for African tournaments are sold to Africa by non-Africans,” Asiimwe told The New Times.

Asiimwe is the director-general of Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.

He added: “For example, we used to buy AFCON rights from European companies based in western capitals. So, the President advised CAF to see how these rights can be accessed and sold by Africans themselves.

“That’s how the African Union of Broadcasting came on board.”

During the AFCON 2017, he said, only 13 African countries showed the tournament.

“Today, AFCON 2019 is broadcast in 30 countries.” Rwanda, which has been broadcasting these tournaments for a while now, is among the countries that that are showing the ongoing showpiece.”

RBA was charged Euros450,000 to broadcast the 2017 AFCON edition, but this time around it was charged Euros200,000, he said.

Addressing delegates at the African Union of Broadcasting General Assembly in Kigali in March 2018, Kagame urged Africa’s broadcasters to take the lead in telling the continent’s stories and to challenge the status quo, which had seen even broadcasting rights for Africa’s major football tournaments go to foreign firms.

“I am told that there is difficulty faced by our broadcasters obtaining rights to broadcast football and other sports because of how that industry is structured. It is a problem that we need to confront,” Kagame said at the time.

The President added: “It is an embarrassment, our rights and our citizens’ rights to watch African football in Africa is managed by people from outside. This is scandalous. There is nothing to be proud of. How can we keep like this and for how long?”

In 2015, Confederation of African Football (CAF) sold worldwide rights for the AFCON and Champions League games to French-based company, Lagardère, for about $1 billion from 2017 through to 2028.

As a result, African broadcasters paid handsomely to the French firm to show African matches.

Asiimwe is in Cairo, Egypt where he is attending the Executive Council meeting of AUB aimed at examining existing challenges and discussing with CAF officials on future tournaments.

AUB secured AFCON broadcasting rights up to 2021, he said.

The Africa Cup of Nations is the continent's premier football tournament, and Egypt is hosting the 2019 finals.

The final is due Friday between Algeria and Senegal.

While meeting in Kigali in March 2018, African broadcasters observed that content creation and production remained a big problem in Africa.