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Kwesé Sports clinches IAAF rights deal

African sports broadcaster Kwesé Sports has acquired rights to International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) competitions throughout sub-Saharan Africa under an agreement with sports broadcaster ESPN.

The six-year deal, running from 2018 to 2023, was first reported by TV Sports Markets earlier this month and has been confirmed today (Wednesday). 

Brokered by ESPN’s Media Distribution unit, the contract entitles Kwesé TV to become the exclusive broadcaster for IAAF events and content in sub-Saharan Africa. Content will feature across its free-to-air and pay-television channels, as well as the new Kwesé Play service.

The deal includes the next three IAAF World Championships and World Indoor Championships. The 2019 and 2021 World Championships will be staged in Doha and Eugene, respectively, while the hosting rights to 2023 have yet to be awarded. The 2018 World Indoor Championships will be hosted by the English city of Birmingham, with the destinations for 2020 and 2022 still to be decided. The contract also includes more than a dozen other competitions in the IAAF World Athletics Series.

The rights agreement is the latest in Kwesé and ESPN’s partnership after the brands signed a long-term collaboration agreement for sub-Saharan Africa in October. Earlier this month, the IAAF signed a multi-year agreement with the European Broadcasting Union consortium of public-service broadcasters, and ESPN Media Distribution, for the sale and distribution of rights in Africa and Europe.

The EBU is leading the sale of free-to-air television rights to members in various countries across Europe, while ESPN is overseeing the distribution of rights in Africa.

Through its pan-African footprint, Kwesé Sports broadcast the 2017 World Championships in London, which witnessed great success for African athletes including South African Wayde van Niekerk’s (left of picture) dominant victory in the men’s 400m final and Hellen Obiri’s gold for Kenya in the 5000m.

Joseph Hundah, president and group chief executive of Kwesé Sports’ parent company 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.”