NTV rights deal for U-20 meet sets stage for bright days ahead

NTV rights deal for U-20 meet sets stage for bright days ahead

An aerial view of the World Under-20 Championship broadcast rights launch function at Kasarani on May 6, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Last Thursday, TV Media Sport (TVMS) — World Athletics’ long-time free-to-air media rights partners — and Nation Media Group (NMG) announced NTV’s acquisition of broadcast rights for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships.

NTV, which is NMG’s television flagship, will now be the official and exclusive free-to-air broadcast partner for the August 17-22 championships to be held at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.

As Hédi Hamel, President of TVMS, rightly observed in a statement that celebrated last week’s launch, these championships will provide a platform for upcoming stars in athletics to announce their arrival on the grand stage. The Kasarani meeting will also offer an opportunity for the technical and production teams at NTV to gain further knowledge on world class productions to add onto the experience eked out of last October’s Continental Tour Kip Keino Classic at the Nyayo National Stadium.

After delivering a well-received, world-class production last year, NTV will also produce the second edition of the now annual Kip Keino Classic on September 18, hopefully also at the refurbished Nyayo National Stadium.

It’s encouraging to see the Standard Group and Kenya Broadcasting Corporation also take up free-to-air television broadcast rights for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, respectively. Coming at a time when media house profit margins have been slashed by the coronavirus, such investment for public good must be applauded.

Sports CS Amina Mohamed converses with NMG CEO Stephen Gitagama during the World Under-20 Championship broadcast rights launch at Kasarani on May 6, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

It now behoves national federations to come up with attractive properties that would also generate much-needed incomes to run their talent development programmes, rather than mourn over why they are not invited to the podium to make long, boring speeches at forums such as broadcast partnership launches.

Sport is dynamic and, especially in the current era of Covid-19, largely television driven.

With fan access to touchline action muzzled by the virus, federations must conjure up innovative programmes that can be knitted into attractive broadcast packages.

This is the reason why, for instance, World Athletics introduced the mixed relays, mixed shuttle relays and medley races at the annual World Relays to inject fresh interest on the track.  Equally, the recent Eliud Kipchoge-inspired NN Mission Marathon at the Twente Airport in Enschede, the Netherlands, was further demonstration of outside-the-box thinking that veers off the staple.

Who would have imagined a world class marathon run on airport runways with parked Boeings providing the backdrop?

RunCzech, organisers of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, went one further and crafted five-kilometre runs inside iconic Pilsner breweries! And aren’t we all waiting to watch RunCzech’s “Battle of the teams,” an innovative, Tour-de-France/ Formula One-like team marathon challenge that’s programmed to run in Prague on May 30?

A cross country championship at Uhuru Park, pole vault competition at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) or sprints challenge on Mombasa’s Mama Ngina Drive would all be innovative, made-for-television events as would Sunday afternoon karting races on a sealed off Uhuru Highway.

Covid-19 has taught us that there’s no such thing as normal routine any more as our lives have been significantly altered to allow for PCR tests each time we venture into foreign land, and face masks that have run lip gloss and lipstick concerns aground.

If our federations don’t change tack to remain relevant, they will basically be digging their own graves. Kudos to the private sector for shoring up the government’s financing of sport as demonstrated in the KCB Bank (Sh100 million) and Toyota Kenya (Sh30 million plus support vehicles) contributions to the WRC Safari Rally, with East African Breweries Limited also expected to announce their support for Team Kenya’s Tokyo campaign later on Tuesday.

Given the coronavirus-inflicted damage on corporate revenues, these have been tough calls to make for the finance directors.

But prudent ones at that…

Seb Coe remarks on NTV deal

Below is the full text of World Athletics President Sebastian Coe’s televised address last Thursday to celebrate NTV’s free-to-air rights partnership launch for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships:

“Habari. Athletics is at the heart of Kenyan life and culture and we are extremely excited to celebrate the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi this August.

“Many of Kenya’s most celebrated athletics stars, including David Rudisha and Faith Kipyegon, have emerged from the premier age-group competition in the world.

“The support of Kenyan media for athletics has been phenomenal over the years and no-one has been more supportive than the Nation Media Group.

“I’m therefore delighted that the Nation, through NTV, have secured the free-to-air broadcast rights for the World Athletics Under-20 Championships.

“This will ensure that millions of Kenya’s athletics fans follow the competition live from Kasarani on NTV, and free of charge.

“All of us at World Athletics wish the Nation Media Group and NTV a successful build up to our great competition.

“Asante sana and see you all in Nairobi!”