Kwese TV, ESPN pen deal for Sub-Saharan Africa athletics

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Econet Media will bring International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) competitions to its Kwesé TV platform in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2018, having reached an exclusive agreement with ESPN, who were representing the IAAF.

The six-year deal, brokered by ESPN’s Media Distribution unit, begins on 1 January 2018 with Kwesé TV becoming the exclusive broadcaster for IAAF events and content in sub-Saharan Africa, these will feature across its free-to-air and pay TV channels as well as the new Kwesé Play service.

The deal includes the next three IAAF World Championships (2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, 2021 IAAF World Championships in Eugene, Ore., USA and 2023 IAAF World Championships*) as well as the next three IAAF World Indoor Championships (2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, UK, 2020* and 2022*) and more than a dozen other competitions in the IAAF World Athletics Series.

Through its pan-African footprint, Kwesé Sports broadcast the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London which dominated sports headlines as they showcased the world’s finest athletes.

Usain Bolt’s shock third-place finish in the men’s 100m final, South African Wayde van Niekerk’s dominant victory in the men’s 400m final and Hellen Obiri’s brilliant gold for Kenya in 5000m captivated fans worldwide.

African athletes performed well at the championships, with Kenyan and South African athletes, including gold medal winners Caster Semenya, Faith Kipyegon, Geoffrey Kirui and Luvo Manyonga propelling their countries towards the top of the medal table.

The rights agreement is the latest in Kwesé and ESPN’s successful partnership after the brands signed a long-term collaboration agreement for sub-Saharan Africa in October 2016.

This year the partnership has launched a dedicated ESPN channel on Kwesé Sports, and the KweséESPN.com website and app.

The deal comes in the wake of the recent announcement that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and ESPN Media Distribution are collaborating to represent the media rights to IAAF events across Europe and Africa — bringing a unique, combined ability to maximise the profile of Athletics and increase access to the sport’s top global competitions to hundreds of millions of fans across the two continents via a combination of free-to-air television, pay television and digital media platforms.

Joseph Hundah, President and Group CEO of Econet Media, said: “Our exclusive collaboration with ESPN was forged on our collective commitment to bringing the best in world class sporting content to African audiences. Athletics enjoys a huge following on the continent with African sports men and women dominating in a number of categories. The IAAF is an important addition to our Kwese Sports portfolio as we extend our offering and build Africa’s most diverse sports destination.”

The agreement marks the latest in a series of agreements for ESPN Media Distribution, including a joint deal with the EBU to represent FINA rights, agreements with Tough Mudder Inc., the NFL for sub-Saharan Africa and more.

Athletics is the most popular and wide reaching sport of the summer Olympic Games with 200 teams participating in Rio 2016, and with Kwesé have acquired rights to the Olympic Games from 2018, African sports fans will be truly spoilt for choice.

The core disciplines of Athletics are the basis of all human movement and all other sport.

Athletics offers beneficial health and lifestyle choices, with millions of people of all ages around the world engaging in some form of Athletics whether just for health and fitness or as a professional competitor.

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