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FIFA live streaming African teams' World Cup qualifiers

FIFA live streaming African teams' World Cup qualifiers

Football's governing body, FIFA, has initiated the online live streaming of African teams' qualification phase for the Football World Cup.

This move will give football enthusiasts direct viewing access to national teams' fixtures of African countries as they compete for the quadrennial championship without any barrier.

Since Egypt became the first African team to participate in the FIFA World Cup in 1934, African teams have participated in the qualifiers which usually take place over the three-year period preceding the global championship.

The live streaming approach is a way for FIFA "to position the game for the future," says the founder of Africa Digital Sports Conference (ADSCon2019), Lolade Adewuyi.

Adewuyi believes the move is crucial for the first round matches as they would normally not be picked up by major broadcasters because the teams are small and have little following which means little or no financial returns.

"But with the live streaming, those teams can now be watched online thereby improving their visibility. In the long run, FIFA can monetise the stream by selling it to sponsors as an opportunity to be seen by a broader audience globally," he adds.

The Editor-in-Chief of the African Sports Monthly Magazine Leslie Koroma concurs and says live streaming should suffice in covering an existing financial gap as the African market has been suffering from a lack of media rights buyers - the only way to money - at the pan-African level.

Koroma recounts that Supersport of South Africa started pulling back before the 2012 Olympics and Kwesi Sports, which came afterwards, gunned for only big ticket events like the English Premier League - though it raised some issues and had to scale back.

"So, essentially this has left Africa with a big vacuum and so FIFA knowing the situation decided to invest in streaming the Games to fill that void," Koroma notes. "On many other fronts, it is revolutionary for those who might be looking at the same model to bring their content to their fans."

Going by Adewuyi's view, FIFA's live streaming move is also going to impact on the bottom line of the smaller football associations as they will be able to show local sponsors that they are being seen across the world.

The overall exposure to be generated by the online viewing is, however, dependent on the amount of access that Africans have to broadband internet connections.

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