By George Akpayen
Propel Sports Africa (PSA) has promised that it will enhance the quality of its live broadcast streaming of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) in the coming weeks after successfully overseeing five live games on the opening day of the ongoing season.
President of Propel Sports, Ed Simmons, explained that the company took “a mammoth” challenge in investing in the Nigerian top-flight and will work to ensure that all of the teething issues experienced on the opening day of the live broadcast streaming will be resolved in the coming Matchdays.
He hinted that the NPFL-Live app will be broadcasting seven matches on the second matchday.
Simmons also shade more light on the reason behind Propel’s decision to deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) cameras at match venues of the NPFL rather than the traditional Outside Broadcasting (OB) vans in its live streaming operations.
He advanced that the AI camera will revolutionize broadcasting of sport in Nigeria and the World in the coming years, adding that the NPFL is the first league in Africa to have the technology deployed in its venues.
“It’s been a mammoth undertaking for us at Propel Sports. We are working on multi-cam productions. There is an issue incorporating it and that will be resolved in due course.
“In this instance we had to start from the scratch. It’s not the stadia, we are enhancing the stadia with such infrastructure as Starlink Internet but not the stadia itself.
“The barrier to showing multiple games on Nigerian television up on till now has been the cost of broadcast. To use a traditional OB unit with multi-cam will cost anything up to $25,000 or $35,000 (per game). So, to do eight games will cost up to $240,000 each week (matchday) and that’s impossible and no one can make a commercial return from that. What we did was to sign an exclusive licence for these new AI cameras, and in using these cameras we can substantially reduce the cost of production. Therefore, we have the ability to film multiple games.
“This revolution is not just happening in Nigeria. LaLiga has just signed for AI cameras. Bundesliga has signed for AI cameras. The Portugal premier division has signed for AI cameras. It happens in the case of Nigeria that it is first in Africa to deploy AI cameras to league games. It (AI camera) will be the future of broadcasting. What we will have to do is to make sure we can add a multi-cam which increases the cost not significantly,” Simmons told npfl.com.ng.
He took time to speak on the possible gains in terms of “commercial revenues” that the live broadcast streaming will offer the clubs especially in the area of their push for sponsorship as well as “making sure the stadia are fit for broadcast purpose.”
“We are starting from the scratch because this is revolutionising broadcasting and we are not changing the stadia but making sure the stadia are fit for broadcast purpose. The chairmen of the clubs have been so welcoming at their stadia and so helpful as well because they can see the benefits. The more people who watch the games live, the more ability they will have to drive sponsorship to their grounds. This is all about bringing proper commercial revenues into the clubs because without the investment in the clubs then obviously the standard of football won’t grow. With proper investment in the clubs there won’t be a reason Nigeria won’t take its rightful place being one of the major soccer nations in the World. You’ve got 200 million people who adore soccer among whom have fantastic abilities. I mean look at some of the fantastic players who have come out of Nigeria without ever having the ability to see them in Nigeria from a young age. Now with what we’re doing these games will be broadcast around the World and people will be able to see Nigerian talents and realize how good it is,” Simmons said.
The Propel Sports president also highlighted some of the challenges his company is faced with in its attempt to deliver a world-class broadcast of the NPFL to millions of views across the globe.
Already, Propel Sports as part of its plans to expand its coverage of the NPFL through the live streaming app has trained over 40 Nigerians as Camera operators.
The NPFL and Propel Sports has a five-year contract in place for the live broadcast streaming of the league which was signed in May this year.