MATCH OF THE WEEK: How NTA Football Show on TV Captivated Millions of Nigerian Football Fans

In the 80s’, Sunday night by 10pm was an appointment time for the viewing of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) network program – Match Of The Week. And no matter where you were; people would run back home or find a near by television set where they could sit down or even stand up to watch one of the National Football league match recorded on Saturday or earlier that Sunday. Well, most people wouldn’t have heard the result by then, so it was like watching a live match.

Over 20 million football fans across the country tuned in to watch such classic fixture of the week broadcast by NTA network. It was the most popular regular scheduled program on TV then; even more popular than the daily NTA network news by 9pm or News line on Sunday. Advertisers were thronging NTA station on their knees, begging for Advertising spot on Match of The Week program. You name it, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Cadbury Bournvita, Nestle Milo… were all scrambling for spots during the program.

So how did NTA put together such a great show that attracted such large audience viewership? Well, it was in their bid to further promote the national football League (as it was called then) that they came up with the program. They had attraction strategy. They knew it wasn’t every match that could attract a large audience viewership, so they decided to carefully select the match to broadcast each week. Then, there were no TV rights; NTA was free to choose any of the matches they feel could attract more audience viewership for them.

First, Nigeria football fans supported local clubs then, so NTA simply surveyed the clubs and found out those that had large number of supporters – they are selected for Match of The Week program.

Second, Clubs at the top side of the league table are considered to attract more audience. Especially when the clubs at top five of the table meet, it became Match of the week.

Third, NTA understood the local rivalry between clubs and also the support some club enjoyed based on tribal sentiments. They knew for instance, a match between Stationery Stores VS Julius Berger or the match between Rangers Vs Shooting Stars would be an audience viewership bang. The same with top league contestants such as Leventis United Vs Abiola Babes; Iwuanyawu Nationale Vs BCC Lions would be sold out to advertisers too. So NTA enjoyed all the advertising revenue from this great TV football show.

Perhaps, you’ll say it was the good old days. Nigeria football landscape has since changed. The continuous poor administration of Nigeria football league has forced fans to look elsewhere. No thanks to satellite technology; football fans now have access to football event from around the world. The English Premier League (EPL) has caught their fancy. So most Nigeria fans now support EPL clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea. Arsenal, Liverpool…

Regrettably today, both Nigeria football fans and media has lost all interest on Nigeria Premier League, And as we all know the rule of the game, Sponsors and advertisers follow the audience where ever they go and you don’t blame them for no longer willing to sponsor or advertise on Nigeria Premier League events.

It’s unfortunate for Super Sports; they may have come at the wrong time to buy TV right from Nigeria Premier League. It may be impossible for them to capture such large audience like NTA did in the 80s’. For one, most Nigerians don’t have cable; they still watch “free-to-air” television in their homes. Super sports may not be reaching the Nigeria football audience to inspire them like NTA Match of The Week. Moreover, Super sports are not finding it easy recording some of the matches. While clubs were happy and gladly welcomed NTA crew to record their game for Match of The Week, Super sports were not allowed to record some games in some stadium. This a topic for another day.

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