By Harry Iwuala

A couple of months ago, what is happening in the broadcast space of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) would have been thought to be impossible. Critics including strong advocates of the domestic league would most likely have scoffed at the idea of broadcasting multiple live fixtures.

But it is real and happening.

For insiders who were in on the making of the NPFL Live Broadcasts, the real surprise is the lightning speed of accomplishing the feat which on MatchDay 10 saw a total of eight games aired on the StarTimes (2) Direct To Home (DTH) platform and Propel Sports Africa (6) on the Over The Top (OTT) platform.

But the evolving stable live broadcasts was a major promise of Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye when he led the now disbanded Interim Management Committee (IMC) that initiated the two deals that are now giving fresh lease of life to the hitherto stunted league.

“The IMC was mandated, to amongst other terms of reference, to reform the league to restore its credibility, secure Sponsorship and most importantly, get it back on television”, Elegbeleye told NPFL Media in one of his interviews as the Chairman of the NPFL Board that replaced the IMC.

“We set to work and collaborated with a number of Stakeholders to secure the deals we have today. It didn’t come easy as at some point, we even enlisted the support of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). That is proof of the hard work we put in and the extent we were prepared to go in achieving the return of our league to the screens”, narrated the NPFL Chairman who doubles as the NFF Second Vice President.

Propel Sports led by Basil Kabbani showed intent to breaking the OTT Broadcast jinx when the company shortly after signing the deal in late June, embarked on a tour of league venues, recruiting and training Nigerians on the operations of the Pixellot made Artificial Intelligence Cameras that was installed at ten venues.

“When you talk about Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) it can be said that the league ranks among the first sector of the economy to attract investors. The truth is that Propel is a complete start-up that has provided direct jobs to over 80 Technicians and Commentators across the country”, remarked Victor Okobi, Country Director of Propel Sports Africa.

He went on to reveal that the company began with four games on the first MatchDay and have since moved to producing minimum of seven games every matchday.

The beauty of the structuring of the NPFL Broadcast deals is that it accommodates multiple platforms and the NPFL Chairman said it was an intentional strategy to unbundle the bouquet.

“On Saturday, November 25, StarTimes and Propel Sports were broadcasting live from Owerri and would do same from Umuahia in the game between Abia Warriors and Rangers International on Sunday.

“We have structured our broadcast rights in such a way that multiple platforms can be on the games and it also offers fans some variety to choose from whether you are in the stadium or in front of the television set at any location, there’s a platform that can give you access to our live fixtures”, he noted.

StarTimes started with broadcast of two fixtures from November 18 and would by February 2024 have access to four. This no doubt will make the NPFL one of the most frequently broadcast leagues in Africa.

What the league organisers have achieved is akin to launching a spaceship from ground zero into the orbit. The NPFL Streaming matches are accessed through the NPFL-Live app that can be downloaded on both Android and iOS devices. On the other hand, StarTimes has created a new and special channel for subscribers who do not need to pay at the moment to access the channel.

David NPFL
November 27, 2023
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