Musonda Kapatamoyo – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Communication, Media and Sport in Africa
February 22-23, 2008
Ohio University, Athens Ohio
The African Cup of Nations (CAN) football tournament is always a big event in African countries, especially for those represented. This year, the 26th CAN tournament was held in Ghana between January 20th to February 10th. The tournament began as a small event in 1957, hosted by Sudan, where Egypt was the first winner. The tournament has overtime changed in scope and sophistication. More teams now participate and the whole continent is riveted to the games. Sixteen teams grouped in four groups of four battle for the championship and show their skills of football to a world audience. This audience hitherto comprised only the in-stadium spectators, television viewers and radio listeners. Since Tunisia 2004, the viewing audience extended to the Internet. Using pay-per-view online sites, games where streamed live to spectators worldwide. This phenomenon was exciting for Africans in diaspora. This marked the turn in viewership for the diaspora who could now get instantaneous or on-demand commentaries, results, proud success stories as well as disappointments. By 2008, a lot of people outside Africa were able to watch these games online without paying for them. Some pay-per-view websites still exist but are challenged by those offering free services. In addition, YouTube and other video sharing sites accommodate short videos of highlights of the games. This paper analyses these emerging patterns. According to this researcher, Internet viewing has lead to an elimination of geographical constraints that previously dictated how the games where viewed. This convergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has demonstrated that television viewing is evolving. On-demand and live viewing has changed the pattern of content distribution. In the past, if one missed the games and their reruns, a videocassette or DVD became the only means to see the games. With Internet as the new medium, physical storage is replaced by URLs shared within emails that link to archived games. The resulting effect on the diaspora is shrinkage in cultural isolation.