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Why has broadcast rights millions eluded BPL?

Under the spotlight: Btv broadcasts the local league in a cashless deal
Broadcasting rights continue to generate millions for football clubs around the world. But locally, the Botswana Premier League (BPL) continues to sing the blues despite games being beamed live on national television. But where does BPL gets it wrong, asks, Mmegi Sport Correspondent, KABELO BORANABI

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) previously roped in regional powerhouse, SuperSport to broadcast the local league, but the deal was terminated just three months after a futile trial in 2013.

A year earlier, local company RP Productions struck a P4.2 million per season deal with BFA, a record deal at the time. However, the broadcaster despite doing an impressive job on the screens, failed to meet the contractual agreement and their contract was eventually terminated.

Currently, the league is in its second and final year of a cashless deal with national broadcaster, Botswana Television (Btv). The deal was facilitated in 2014 by former BPL chief executive officer, Bennett Mamelodi and was penned by then BFA president, Tebogo Sebego. It was a five-year contract that saw the first three years paid for, while the last two are televised for free.

Btv managed to shrug off competition from other bidders including regional powerhouse, SuperSport.

The deal sparked debate within the corridors at Lekidi Football Centre. The BPL board at the time opted for SuperSport, a pay-per-view station while the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) chose Btv.

The NEC’s argument was Batswana should access the games for free and SuperSport did not offer that option. But would have the BPL gone against the NEC wishes? Well no, the BPL is yet to attain autonomy and remains an organ of the BFA.

As the mother body continues to decide for the league office, it is the clubs who have to deal with the repercussions of any decision made. SuperSport is said to

have tabled a better deal for the BPL, but they had to succumb due to the pressure and authority of the NEC. A divided front at the football headquarters may ward off suitors.

Local football uses a collective rather than an individual bargaining system. The way revenues are bargained between television and clubs are centralised by a single party representing all the teams.

But it has proven that other clubs are far ahead of others administratively and on the field. It may be a handful of clubs, but they should be gaining more for their efforts. In an individual system, the teams bargain separately with the TV broadcasters.

Teams bargain with TV platforms the amount they receive for their TV rights. This could help clubs negotiate their TV rights with any bidder. This could spark a bidding war for teams while they could see an increase in the number of broadcasters for the league teams hence increasing revenues for the clubs.

A more attractive league competition will always attract the highest suitors. The local league has not been appealing to the eye for the past few seasons.

 Interestingly, for the past decade only two teams have won the league title. Township Rollers has won it four seasons on the trot. The league has seen a significant decrease in supporters’ attendance.

It has also been struggling to attract sponsors due to a below par level of competition. This may have put off broadcasters as there is little to gain but more to lose under these circumstances.




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