By The Herald
ZIMBABWEAN football marches into a new era tomorrow when the national broadcaster, ZBC-TV, broadcasts its first live Castle Lager Premiership match as the official broadcast partner of the domestic Premiership.
The ZBC-TV cameras and Outside Broadcast equipment will be at the National Sports Stadium where the corporation will be broadcasting live the pick of this weekend’s Premiership matches — a titanic battle between unbeaten leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars and CAPS United.
ZBC-TV emerged as the winners of a tender to go into bed with the top-flight league as the PSL’s official broadcast partner for the next three years and the national broadcaster replaces SuperSport, whose partnership with the PSL was not renewed at the end of last year.
The PSL leaders overwhelmingly voted to end their five-year deal with SuperSport because a number of clubs were not happy with the money that was coming into their coffers from the partnership and felt their product was worth far more than what they were getting.
Since then, we have not seen any PSL matches live on any television channel this year, but that will change from tomorrow when the first game appears on the screens of the national broadcaster.
It’s a huge test for ZBC-TV and we hope that they get it right from the very start, because there will be many critics out there just waiting for them to fail to live up to expectations in terms of the quality of the product and how they present it.
We don’t know the number of cameras ZBC-TV will use tomorrow, but there is need for them to cover as many angles as possible because those who will be watching will want to see replays of all the controversy, from a lot of angles, and all the goals, from different angles.
We also don’t know the people who have been engaged by ZBC-TV to do the commentary because the voices of those who will be narrating the events unfolding on the pitch, and the knowledge of the pundits to provide expert analysis on the action, are very critical in enhancing the quality of the product which they will be delivering.
It’s also important that ZBC-TV engages the services of experts like retired top referees who can provide expert analysis of the performance of their colleagues who will be handling the matches, especially on occasions when there are controversial incidents during matches.
The onus is on ZBC-TV to deliver and while there has been scepticism in some quarters, it is important to note that Uganda have already gone that route after the country’s football leaders signed a deal with a local company, Sports Broadcasting Limited, in January this year, in a $3 million deal.
The company is owned by two Ugandans — Brutus Kagingo and Warren Namara — and a Dutch partner and they beat Azam TV, a giant broadcaster in East Africa, to win the deal promising that, by the time they start broadcasting matches in September, a lot would have changed.
What we are seeing is that a number of media organisations, including national broadcasters, now realise the power of playing a leading role in broadcasting sport, especially football, in Africa and the huge commercial opportunities that this presents for them.
That is why we are seeing those who have dominated the market on the continent being challenged by new players and it’s important that ZBC-TV does it right because once they pass the test tomorrow, they can be guaranteed that there will be a bigger audience waiting for their next broadcast of our PSL games.
We are happy too that this has come about at a time FIFA, the world football governing body, have made a pronouncement on the roadmap related to the ZIFA elections and the negativity which the fight for the right to be the leaders of domestic football had been generating, can be pushed into the shadows for now.
Our football has suffered a lot in the past because of a negative image and, unfortunately, it appears there are people who seemingly thrive in such chaos and believe that, without them in certain leadership roles, the game cannot move forward.
These are the people, including a controversial character who stays in South Africa and who only surfaces when a window of opportunity for him to try and become the ZIFA president opens, who have been making all the noises in the past few months before FIFA made their pronouncement.
Now, let’s see the real stars — those who play the game on the football field — show us their talent and dominate the headlines, including seeing them live in action on our national television.