Mettlestate and Intel launch continent’s first esports competition – Live streaming and prizes

17 June 2022

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South African e-sports games organizer Mettlestate has teamed up with Intel (which runs these kinds of events globally) to launch Africa’s first pan-continental e-sports tournament, the Intel Africa Masters. Russell Southwood spoke to Carly Twaddle, Mettlestate about how the event developed and what it promises.

The Intel Africa Masters is a cross-continent CS: GO tournament. Players in four regions will compete for the title of best CS: GO team in Africa. The tournament will consist of teams grouped according to their country or region; Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, and North Africa (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco).

“Until recently Africa has largely been excluded from esports and we decided to take the lead in showing off the talent on the continent. We pitched the idea to Intel and they are joint owners of the brand.” Barry ‘Anthrax’ Louzada, the MD of Mettlestate was formerly a professional gamer at a global level and started the company six years ago: “he wanted to give fellow competitors in Africa the chance to compete like he did and take esports to another level on the continent.”

Nitesh Doolabh, Intel Country Lead South Africa says “At Intel we know gaming, and, over the years, we’ve continued demonstrating our commitment to it by delivering CPUs and platforms that push the boundariesof performance to unprecedented levels”.

To help accommodate as many players as possible, Mettlestate and Intel have collaborated with esports agencies around the continent. Gamr and BME Esports are supporting the process: “The top teams from the regional finals will be flown to Johannesburg for a live event final.” The top four teams will do battle for their share of the R450 000 ($30 000) prize pool.

The venue for the final has not yet been confirmed but it will either be at the rAge Tech Expo at the Gallagher Convention Centre or in Mettlestate’s own studios: “We haven’t yet confirmed hosts for the event but are looking at a combination of international and local talent.”

Interestingly, for a pan-continental event, it’s taken the route of ‘digital first’: “We’re not selling the broadcast rights. The property is co-owned by Intel and they might sell them. It will be broadcast on an African Masters Channel on Twitch and it will also be broadcast on Ginx esports TV in the UK.”

Although data outside South Africa is hard to come by, I’m guessing that the event might attract between 0.5-1 million viewers across the event. There have been past discussions about broadcasting esports but no major deals seem to have been signed.

The data from South Africa provided by Mettlestate gives some indication of the potential scale. Apparently 40% of the South African population play some kind of online game with 72% on mobile, 34% on PC and 21% on a Console. The gender split is more women than you might imagine: 59% are men and 41% are women. Clearly this is the broad end of the audience pyramid and the narrower end would be reflected in Mettlestate’s own subscribers levels, which are just over 180,000, 70% of whom are men and 30% of whom are women. 87% play on mobile and 13% on laptops.

The Intel Africa Masters is an excellent example of weighing up a ‘digital first’ vs hybrid broadcasting strategy. Its core audience is young and obviously tech-savvy. It can live comfortably within the growing online niche. South and North Africa now have the kind of access required for esports and Nigeria and Kenya are joining the same club.

But African broadcasters looking to the future should maybe think about a niche that may well grow a lot over the next three years. Now is the time to buy the rights and grow with the brand. Live versions of gaming have significant challenges for the uninitiated in terms of drama and interest. But isn’t human interest, elimination competitions (otherwise known as reality TV) what African broadcasters can do best?

Heads Up: Gilbert Ajala’s Africa Sports Unified in partnership with Alive and Kicking is running another ASU Mindshare which provides an opportunity to network with like-minded peers within the Sports Market who all have a vested interest in Africa: “We will have a key-note speaker on the day and we will announce this shortly.” Date: 14 July 2022 5.30-8pm. Place: 147 Hoxton Street, London N1 6QG

In Brief

Namibia: The Director-General of Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Stanely Similo, has called on the corporate sector to invest in creating local content. According to Similo, “If we as Namibians do not produce our own content, we will forever be subjected to viewing international content, and our stories will not be told.” This comes after the NBC and MultiChoice Namibia called on local film producers to submit proposals reflecting authentic Namibian stories. The initiative received over 200 entries, from which 22 were selected. Similo indicated that the first 13 scripts are expected to be produced towards the end of this year, and candidates will also receive a budget of between US$23 500 and US$26 800 for their projects. “The films will be aired on DStv Namibia platforms as well as the NBC,” Similo said.

American digital distribution and fan engagement platform ONErpm has announced five new offices in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa as part of its expansion efforts on the continent.

Malawi: The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has revoked the Television broadcast license for Rainbow Television after failing to pay its annual license fees. According to the regulator, the revocation of the license for Rainbow TV is effective for 30 days from June 9, 2022. In a statement released by MACRA, the regulator said, “We wish to advise all licensees in the Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Postal sectors that failure to pay annual license fees is a serious breach of their licenses, and thus running the risk of having their licenses revoked.” Commenting on the matter, Zadziko Mankhambo, MACRA’s Communication Manager, said Rainbow TV has defied what is stipulated in the Communications Act, which requires TV broadcasters to pay an annual fee of US$5,000.

Canal+, the pay-television operator owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi, has increased its stake in MultiChoice to 18.44 per cent. MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela disclosed the increased shareholding by Canal+ during the company’s annual results presentation. Mawela added that they continue to have monthly interactions with Vivendi and that the French media is pleased with the company’s management and its prospects. “Vivendi believes that MultiChoice is a well-run entity that will continue to grow. They see MultiChoice as a good financial investment,” Mawela said. He also added that there are areas where Canal+ and MultiChoice can collaborate as they both operate in different regions across Africa. In their latest financial report, MultiChoice has reported a steady increase in subscribers for the year ending in March 2022. According to the pay-TV operator, DStv and GOtv subscribers grew in the year under review, by just over 900 000 subscribers, bringing it to a total of over 9 million DStv subscribers in South Africa (41 per cent of the total) and more than 12 million subscribers in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa (59 per cent of the total). The report revealed that MultiChoice’s growth came from lower DStv packages for the mass market, with DStv Access and DStv EasyView subscribers showing an increase of 7 per cent from 4.6 million to 4.9 million subscribers in South Africa during the year under review.

Zambia: The National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) has revealed the opening of a digital media studio as it looks to enhance its media coverage and broader audience reach. The new studios contain state-of-the-art audio, photography and video technologies and consist of a cloud software component that will allow NOCZ to store photos and videos that can be used as part of its Olympic legacy programme. The NOCZ is hopeful that the new facilities will improve the delivery of in-house content, which will be more accessible for the country’s athletes as well as the stakeholder community.

Internet giant Google has begun rolling out its internet TV service, Google TV, to iOS and Android smartphones, as a replacement for its Movies and TV app. The internet TV service is currently available to iOS users, while Android support is still expanding in the coming months. According to the operator, Google TV will soon be rolled out to Android devices in South Africa, and the Smart TV version of the app is already available for users in the country. Google TV collects content from various streaming platforms – excluding Netflix – and allows users to create a centralised watchlist. The service also allows users to access movies and TV series they bought or rented from Google Play Movies & TV.

Zimbabwe: The government of Zimbabwe has been urged to ensure that the Broadcasting Services Act aligns with the Constitution. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras), as well as the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) have also insisted that the government should engage relevant stakeholders for input before enacting the provisions. The Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) – the principal legislation regulating the country’s broadcasting industry – was imposed in 2001 and has since been left unchanged, and petitions were made calling for its amendment. According to the parties (Misa Zimbabwe, Zacras and MAZ), the amendments should be in line with the provisions of the Constitution that allow for freedom of speec