Friday, 11 May 2012

SportsKenya's Qs & As: Hannelie Bekker - MD Wananchi Programming

In the first of our new segment for our discerning readers, we feature a Q&A session with MD - Wananchi Programming Hannelie Bekker on their huge sports investment in the Zuku SlamFest 2012 for the game of basketball among other developments at Zuku TV. Here are some of the highlights of that session 

SportsKenya: Hi and thanks for this opportunity.   
Hannelie Bekker: Thanks for the opportunity too and welcome to the SlamFest ride :-)  
Hannelie Bekker - MD Wananchi Group

SK: Zuku SlamFest 2012. How did this idea come about? Give us the background of why basketball and not any other sport. 
HB: Our analysis of the market showed that while basketball is loved and played on school, university and community level, and brands like the NBA command enormous respect and admiration, the sport is not championed in a substantial or sustained way by any broadcaster. From case studies all around the world we know that broadcast plays a huge role in building up sporting codes, and so we embraced this as a great opportunity to do just that. 
SK: What is the rationale behind the tournament? 
HBWe spent some time with Vision21 last year, exploring opportunities in regional sports. Steve Othoro, with his longstanding, extensive network in the regional and international basketball world, proposed the idea of a regional basketball tournament, something he had been mulling over since his return to Kenya. We then developed the idea together, and the further we got the more attractive it looked! We see it as a great platform to showcase the basketball talent in the region, to create a high standard of competition, to raise the standard of local sports production for television and, above all, to create a hugely entertaining and compelling experience for the audience. 
SK: There have been many interests in sports events in Kenya in the last few years, including the Safari Sevens, the Safari Rally, Kenya Golf Open to name but a few. Which other sporting disciplines is Wananchi (Zuku) looking to get into in the short, medium or longer term? 
HB: It would be unwise of us to reveal too many of our plans too soon! 
SK: What of local, regional or continental interests? 
HB: It could be any of these; however, I think it is clear already that greater East Africa as a region is really important to us; it's where we are based, our "home", so to speak, and we are invested in its growth and success. 

SK: What are your thoughts on sports and investments by media into the same? 
HBEvery media business has to make strategic decisions about what it invests in - and of course there are always constraints, especially around sports, which is expensive to stage & shoot. I think that where the right alliances are formed the combination of a sporting code, a broadcaster and potentially also business (in the form of sponsorship) is a really powerful one, win-win for everyone.
Zuku SlamFest 2012 Launch - Africa NBA VP Amadou Gallo Foll greets Richard Bell - CEO Wananchi Group

SK: Sports organisations in Kenya have not exploited or leveraged their sports with the media, what would you advise them?
HB: That the media is absolutely crucial in creating and maintaining a profile for sports, sporting codes and sports people, and strong working relationships between sports organisations and the media are mutually beneficial, AND benefit the public - even better, if makes fans out of them.

SK: Going further afield on the international sports scene, the English Premier League has opened up bids for screening of their games for the 2013/14 season. Any hopes that Wananchi Group (Zuku) would be part of the bidding process?
HB: No comment on that for now... 

SK: What are the 3 things that media consumers DO NOT KNOW about Zuku?  
HB1) That Zuku is the fastest growing pay-tv platform in East Africa;
2)That apart from very many third party channels we also have 7 own, Zuku-branded channels, that are managed right here in Nairobi; and
3)That we are the only triple play provider on the African continent!

SK: What issues would you wish addressed to making investments in media and related infrastructure in Kenya more profitable and lucrative for new players? 
HB: It is a well-publicised fact that we (Wananchi) think that the pay-tv landscape is insufficiently competitive. 

SK: Shall Zuku screen the 2012 Olympic Games from London?
HB: We do not have the rights to the live broadcast, however, viewers can look forward to excellent highlights, updates and round-ups, both on BBC World (who will be pulling out all the stops in their hometown!) and Zuku Sports.

SK: What can sports enthusiasts and consumers expect from Zuku Sports in the next 12 months?
HB: Athletics lovers are in for a treat, with the Diamond League (live) starting in the next couple of days and running through September, and promising excellent performances by Kenyan and global athletes. We will also carry live broadcasts of a few marathons (Prague, Stockholm & Beijing); the npower Championships are hotting up, with the finals in mid-May; we're beefing up our mixed martial arts presence and have just signed some interesting live boxing rights (details to follow); we'll broadcast 7 NBA play-off games, the wrap-up of the CopaLibertadores - and much more.

SK: Final words?
HB: We would love to hear from you. Follow us on Twitter (@ZukuOfficial), friend us on Facebook (Zuku Official) - we are keen to hear what you think about Zuku, Zuku Sports, Slamfest, or anything else you have on your minds.
And see you at Kasarani for Slamfest 2012!

{ Much appreciation to Liz Owuoche - SilverBullet PR for facilitating this interview}

No comments: