The power of sports TV programmes for the growing African Middle Class


The middle class, in the conventional economic framework, is the backbone of a mature and developed economy. According to this perspective, the middle class is the driving force in the growth and development of an economic system. The robustness of the middle class determines the sustainability of the economy.

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What role will the developing middle class have on the African audience’s sports media consumption, behaviour and composition? This question is one of the pertinent questions that the recently launched “African Sports TV Market Report” from research company "Balancing Act" tackles.

The African middle class is rapidly changing because of the simultaneous growth of the African population and economy. Both factors are fuelling the growth of a vibrant, young and ambitious work force with a sophisticated, but unique, cosmopolitan disposition and outlook (MGI, 2012).

According to MGI, the 382 million African work force is a youth full market with an “optimistic consumption culture”. With a stable 4.9% annual GDP growth, Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. The diminishing poverty levels are moving more people up the social ladder and increasing the growth of the middle class.

This growth in material and financial prosperity of a society increases sports consumption, according to Chen and Yin (2011). They claim that the improvement of income levels and the availability of disposable income have a great effect on consumer behaviour and ultimately sports consumption levels. 

The growth of the African consumer base will have a positive impact on the consumer sector which will attract sponsors and advertisements who would want to capture the interest of the Africa consumers.

Consumer expenditure attracts marketers to compete for the consumers’ attention. The African Sports Viewers, both female and male, have an average age of between 18 – 35 years old (Balancing Act, 2014).

This factor alone is enough to attract marketers to appeal for their attention and in addition the viewers are increasingly becoming well off.  The socio-economic transformation of African economies and the rapid social mobility of the consumers are creating an environment conducive for a healthy African Sports TV Market.

The African Sports TV Market Report does not only clarify the role that the middle class will play in the development of the market but it looks at the macro and micro environmental factors affecting the market and how they will likely influence the development and maturity of the African Sports TV Market.

There is no doubt that the middle class has a significant and influential part to play in the market; but meaningful and significant development of the market will depend on the key protagonist or stakeholders involved to take advantage of the African economic progress and simultaneously utilise the power of sport as a medium and platform for engaging and attracting both internal and external players to identify the inherent value that could be derived from the market.

About the author:

Mr. Themba Ndlwana is an African sports media consultant who has vast and diverse experience in sports media rights and sponsorship sales. He is very optimistic about the development of a sustainable African sports economy and he feels that the media, especially TV, has a vitally important role in the expansion and viability of African sports institutions. He foresees himself making a significant contribution towards the creation of a robust African sports infrastructure with a solid economic foundation. He is co-author of the African Sports TV Market.