AFCON: Nigeria fans in limbo as major broadcaster lose TV rights

Football fans in Nigeria will not be able to watch the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on DStv’s SuperSport channel.

This comes after the pay-TV operator failed to secure the rights to broadcast the tournament, which is set to kick off on January 13.

The Super Eagles will begin their quest for a fourth continental crown on January 14 against Equatorial Guinea before facing the Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau in the other Group A fixtures.

Nigerian football fans
Photo by Icon Sport

A statement from Multichoice Africa said the SuperSport channel, which has been airing almost every competition on the continent for years, will not broadcast the upcoming AFCON.

AFCON on free-to-air channels

The continent’s biggest pay-TV operator was, however, quick to add that the AFCON matches will be broadcast on its affiliate free-to-air channels.

“SuperSport Channel will not broadcast the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 scheduled for January 13th – February 11th, 2024, because the channel has not secured the rights to broadcast the tournament,” the statement said.

“However, AFCON 2023 games will be available through our partner broadcast stations on Free to Air (FTA) channels.

“Multichoice Africa remains committed to ensuring football fans across Africa continue to enjoy unrivalled access to entertainment and football games available on DStv and GOtv platforms including, the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Zambian Super League and many more of football's most prestigious competitions.”

Super Eagles fans in limbo

SuperSport’s failure to secure the broadcasting rights for the AFCON has not gone down well with football fans in Nigeria and across Africa.

Several fans who are DStv subscribers took to the social media website X (formerly known as Twitter) to rant and vent their frustration at missing the AFCON games.

Nigerian journalist Collin Udoh wrote: “Shame that #Afcon2023 will not be on SuperSport. There’s a certain class they bring to the coverage, the full 360, that we will miss this go-around. I don’t think New World has the capacity yet. And neither Startimes, Azam or beIN are invested enough to do it.”

Ghanaian journalist and a former communications director of the Ghana FA, Ibrahim Sannie Daara, also added: “This move raises critical questions about the broadcaster's commitment to the continent, its customers, and the alarming preference for European content over African football.

“If SuperSport were a European company operating within Europe, regulators would likely have swiftly taken action. However, the apparent indifference towards African customers suggests a concerning trend of taking the continent for granted. The broadcaster must recognize its duty to the continent that forms the backbone of its revenue stream.”

As it stands, SuperSport has now lost the broadcasting rights to the other CAF competitions too, including the Champions League, Confederations Cup and the African Football League.

New World TV secures AFCON rights

Meanwhile, Togo-based satellite television network New World TV has taken over from SuperSport as the official broadcaster of the AFCON.

The pan-African broadcaster has also secured the media rights to broadcast all CAF competitions from 2023 to 2025 in 46 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

CAF president Dr Patrice Motsepe said New World TV’s investment to acquire the media rights is the biggest in the history of the continent’s football governing body.

“The Media Rights Agreement with New World TV is the biggest investment by a Pan-African broadcaster in CAF’s history. We are very proud to partner with such a globally competitive and innovative broadcasting company which has adapted quickly to the changing demands and viewing patterns of the modern football audience,” Motsepe said, as quoted by CAF Online.

“New World TV is also introducing new ways of consuming video content through its strong partnerships with various mobile operators and its television networks.”

The AFCON is scheduled for January 13 to February 11 in the Ivory Coast.

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Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.