Last week in Tianjin,China,StarTimes,Africa's fastest growing digital tv operator signed a five year deal with the German Bundesliga as the official broadcast sponsor in sub-Saharan Africa.
In this interview with DARE ESAN after the signing ceremony inside the Conference Centre at the five-star Hengda Hotels and Resorts in Tianjin,Jorg Daubitzer,a member of DFL Sports Enterprise GmbH,the organisation responsible for the operation of the German football leagues Bundesliga 1. and 2. Bundesliga reveals why StarTimes won the rights to broadcast league to Africans…
Bundesliga and StarTimes,a match-winning partnership the banner here says at the signing ceremony,tell us,why did you team up with StarTimes?
For us in the Bundesliga StarTimes has given us a wonderful opportunity to come much closer to the football fans in Africa as it has never been over the past few years we have been there.This is because StarTimes will give much more people in Africa the opportunity to see football at home as it has never been in the past. And we believe with the geometrical way StarTimes is growing in the continent of Africa as the leading digital televisionoperator,covering 80% of the continent's population,it will be beneficial to the Bundesliga.It will be indeed a match-winning partnership.
The English Premier League is undoubtedly the most popular league in Africa for quite some time now,are you choosing StarTimes to challenge that popularity?
Our priority is not to engage in any popularity contest with the premier league.Our focus,our challenge is to come to the heart of the people in Africa.We are not in any popularity contest with any of the big leagues in Europe or anywhere in the world.The Bundesliga has a rich history and excellent playing standards and it has,without question developed into one of the world's premier sporting competitions.If you must know,the Bundesliga was formed in 1962.
In fact if you are talking about any contest,it is that of what happens on the picth.Next season for instance,the Bundesliga will be the number two in the UEFA rankings,and it will be the first time since 1998 that we will take the second position. First is the Spanish league and the premier league is in the third position. So Bundesliga is in second position and premier league is number three!.
What's so special about the Bundesliga that you are selling it to Africa?
I think there are so many points that are specific to the Bundesliga.In terms of fans attendance,the Bundesliga is second to none.In fact it is the football league with the highest average stadium attendance worldwide. The average attendance is more than 43,000 people every Bundesliga week and the atmosphere in the stadia are electrifying,from Munich to Dortmund,from Wolfsburg to Hamburg and to Koln,the first winner of the Bundesliga title.Players like to play in front of enthusiastic fans who understand the game.That is one thing that stands out the Bundesliga.
Also we have an average of three goals scored per match which is unrivalled by any major league,not even the UEFA Champions League can match that.And you goals make fans happy.
So there are a lot of excitement in the stadiums and it is played by a lot of young, talented German players in a good combination with some really interesting and successful international players.
Apart from the 90 minutes on the pitch, what else are you offering Nigerians,Africans who want to watch the Bundesliga?
The Bundesliga you will see on StarTimes wont just be about 90 minutes of actions on the pitch.No,it is much more than that. For example, the extended run down for Bundesliga matches will start three and half hours before the kick-off which means 90 minutes of match time and the other time is set for programme that will give viewers a proper understanding of the game they are about to see,the rivalries between the clubs and of course there will be team news.
Beside that, We have preview shows each week, we have highlight shows each Bundesliga week to show all the actions from the nine games of the Bundesliga week including the goals,the controversies and the talking points.
We have specific programmes about players, specific programmes about individual clubs, specific programmes about the cities the clubs come from.So it will be a lot of offerings packaged for the enjoyment of football fans in Africa to see what's going to happen in and around the Bundesliga. There will be the opportunity to get more information on the mobile and internet offering so the people have enough opportunity to enjoy the league.
Now that you are in Africa fully, are you thinking of making use of ex-internationals as part of the broadcast team,say a Jay Jay Okocha of Nigeria who cut his playing teeth in the Bundesliga with Frankfurt?
Waoh, I saw him when he scored against Oliver Khan in 1993 and I would like to see in the Bundesliga very good African players working in our programmes but the onus is on our partners to take advantage of this wonderful idea you have given and I believe they will.If we have the opportunity to help and support, we are more than happy to do so and to bring in them contact with such players and even those who are still playing in the Bundesliga now. For example we can facilitate their getting closer to the clubs to get specific interviews.So it might be interesting if a guy like Otto Addo, Maxi Choupo-Moting (plays for Schalke),Chinedu Obasi (who just left Schalke) can talk about their experiences and life in the Bundesliga.
Finally how will the Football Associations of the countries in sub-saharan African benefit from this Bundesliga sponsorship with StarTimes?
We had in the past a lot of representatives of different African countries from their football associations or from their leagues invited to Frankfurt to show them how we run the Bundesliga in Germany and let them take one or two things away from it. For example we can explain to them our licensing system, we can explain to them our youth development policies.We give them a lot of insight on why the Bundesliga is standing in such a position as it is standing now. This is what we could offer, this is what we could show and deliver, we have done that in the past, and are prepared to continue to do that because we believe a successful football in Africa will have a huge influnce on the success of global football.