There was excitement in 2016 when Super League of Malawi signed a whooping K266 million exclusive television rights with Beta TV to beam live super league games. As it turned out, Beta TV did not have the capacity to execute the contract. What followed was a string of bitter complaints from teams such as Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers and excuses from Sulom for non-payment of royalties. It was clear that the deal had turned sour. The rest is history!
Two years down the line Sulom has not yet identified another television station to televise the games for reasons one cannot understand. It is always exciting for soccer fans to watch their teams play on television even if the game is played hundreds of kilometres away. It is unfortunate that soccer fans can be glued to their tv sets to watch English Premier League or La Liga when they are unable to watch local games because Sulom is failing them. The soccer body is not only letting down soccer fans, but teams and the nation as a whole.
Malawi is probably the only country in Africa, if not in the world, where local and international games are not beamed on local television channel(s). For example, all our neighbouring countries beam soccer matches on their local television stations. Zambia has even made a huge leap by televising local fixtures on SuperSport. This is not only raising the profile of the Zambian football, but also exposing local talent to big clubs in the SADC and beyond.
How can a soccer body worth its name fail to secure television rights to broadcast games in this day and age when we have a variety of television stations around? Surely, one or two television stations could have been identified by now to beam the games after the Beta TV fiasco. What is hindering the process?
It is unfortunate that soccer fans in Malawi should be denied of watching local soccer on television just because Sulom is not doing its work. The whole executive committee should take the blame for sitting idle and failing to identify a broadcaster. This points to leadership malaise at Sulom with the marketing team sharing much of the blame. `Someone is sleeping on the job. The marketing department should have re-tendered the contract a long time ago to identify another television station.
Beaming live soccer games is in the interest of clubs, the soccer governing body and soccer fans and the development of football. The royalties will rake in the much-needed financial resources to clubs to boost the financial resources from their sponsors and gate takings. Sulom will not only a get a cut from the contract, but it will be an opportunity for advertisers to advertise their goods and services during the matches. This means more money to Sulom and stakeholders.
Sulom goofed to award Beta TV broadcasting rights because they were lured by the huge bidding price that was dangled, a staggering K266 million, beating Times TV and Zodiak TV, at the expense of capacity to deliver. Due diligence was not done to ascertain Beta TV’s capacity to deliver (e.g. financial muscle, previous work done, equipment etc). It was even better when MBC used to beam the games free because fans used to enjoy.
This time around Sulom should not rush for money. But identify a television station that will deliver and contribute to the development of soccer in the country. The contract can be co-sponsored with another television station as they do in South Africa where Super Sport broadcasts some Absa Premier League games with SABC.