Last year, Supersport announced it’s intention to stop broadcasting the Kenya Premier League, KPL (and the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL). They terminated their local productions in Kenya that carried features of the league, Mchaka Mchaka, Simba Super Soka and earlier in the year, Off The Press and Playback. The question everyone is asking is why now after investing in the league for a decade?
Governance is a big challenge to sports administrators in Kenya. For years there have always been wrangles over who have the mandate to manage football in the country. The Kenya Premier League, KPL registered as a limited liability has been running the premier league, Sportpesa Premier League while Football Kenya Federation, FKF has the mandate to run the overall football agenda. These two entities have never seen eye to eye.
The bone of contention had been the contract between KPL and Supersport which has never been shared with the public. The issue of transparency comes into play because no one really knew what KPL and its directors were making from the agreement apart from what they shared with the public.
Disagreement over FIFA Club Licensing Regulations
The new FKF office wanted to know what was in that contract. KPL would not disclose but more so, they, FKF insisted that the league must accept to have 18 teams as stipulated in the FIFA Club Licensing Regulations rather than 16 which it had since its inception. Supersport insisted that they could not work with this arrangement. There was so much negative publicity over this issue with FKF remaining adamant that the rules must be followed to the letter and KPL holding their ground. No brand would want to be embroiled in so much negative PR.
Strategic Planning and Marketing
It is clear that there was an oversight of the strategic planning for the KPL and its broadcasting partnership. The assumption was that Supersport would never leave. There was no preparation for the eventuality of the broadcaster abandoning ship. There are other players in the space, Bamba Sport, Kwese Sport and Fox Sports Africa. The question is, would they be willing to invest in a property that the biggest player in the industry has walked away from and do they have the investment to match what Supersport had put in.
Over the 10 years that Supersport has been broadcasting the Kenya Premier League, much of the marketing had been done by them. KPL never invested behind their brand, neither did they compel teams to adhere to certain standards with regard to governance, strategic management, player welfare, and marketing.
Sports is entertainment, the target demographic, 16+ has so much to choose from. There is competition for their attention from so many different quotas. What KPL failed to realise is the need to keep their brand top of mind to this target demographic. This required investing a percentage of what they received as sponsorship from SuperSport and (at the time) their league partners, Sportpesa.
Some good examples are shown below courtesy of the UEFA Women’s Champions League
Kenyans are known to adapt very fast to changes in technology. The penetration of the internet and accessibility to mobile devices have created an enabling environment for quick and easy sharing of media across many different platforms. Communications Authority of Kenya’s report in June 2016 announced
- the mobile penetration of Kenya to be at 90%,
- Smartphone uptake is at 44%,
- 26.3million mobile money subscribers (largest in the world)
- Internet subscribers are at 26.8 million, with broadband penetration of 24.5%
Source Moses Kemibaro.
DSTV the parent company of Supersport has lost subscription to Kenyans using the internet to access the same content they offer. This affected their bottom line and could as well be a good reason why they could not justify investing in the KPL further.
The departure of Supersport will leave a huge void, there will be lost opportunities and jobs for so many in the industry from players, journalists, analysts etc. We wait to see if the government will intervene, FKF will work to bring them back or a new player will take the risk of broadcasting the KPL.