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Last minute winners and overzealous commentary: Has AFCON been a successful entertainment product thus far?

In the dawn of a new year, the 34th edition of AFCON has to compete concurrently with domestic leagues, so does this affect the product from a viewing and entertainment perspective?


Can the biggest African tournament draw eyes away from watching Premier League games on the weekend, and instead sit down and watch an AFCON group game?



Well, it sits behind a paywall, with Sky Sports showing all 54 games live on their respective channels. This restricts the potential audience in the UK who may have an interest in seeing some of their club player sin action. But Sky is the unrivalled home of live sport in the UK which means that the product is there to be viewed.


Seemingly, one of the issues form a spectator's perspective when it comes to the African Cup of Nations is the relatively low attendance at the matches. The main reasons behind low attendances during AFCON can be attributed to poor infrastructure, ticket prices and political issues regarding visas and travel. This typically means that only people who live in the host country are able to attend matches. And only the mot wealthy form other nations can afford the travel and ticket prices, can obtain visas to travel, and can pay for the limited availability of hospitality and accommodation. This is why attendances are typically low, alongside the huge capacity stadiums that host the matches. The majority of seats are empty because of this and it does not paint a good picture of the product on TV. When there is little atmosphere being generated in the stadium, it transmits through the TV and struggles to make it a compelling viewing experience. But one way to combat that is through excitable and detailed commentary.



One noticeable element from some of the game so far that have encountered a late equaliser or winner is that the commentator adds colour and suspense to the situation. And, in turn, this can add to the experience of watching the game on TV, and makes fans more involved in the game. This was evident the other day when Cape Verde scored a 99th minute equaliser against Salah-less Egypt to draw 2-2. Thinking they had ended Egypt's chances of making it to the knockout stage. But in the other game in their group, Mozambique came form 2-0 down to also equalise late on to snatch a draw against Ghana, knocking them out and sending Egypt through. It was absolute carnage yet incredible late drama which made for enthralling viewing. And this was exacerbated by British commentator Robbie Nock whose excitable reaction made the rounds online as people reacted to the late drama. Obviously late goals and tight games add to the drama more so than blowouts and nil-nil draws, but when those games do happen, it is essential for the commentator to add colour to the situation to ensure that the product, from a viewing standpoint, is exhilarating.



Chris Hughton's Ghana have thus failed to make it out of the group stage of this year's AFCON - and he was sacked as a result. Hosts Ivory Coast finished third in Group A, despite winning their third game, and they sacked their manager Jean-Louis Gasset as they were on the brink of elimination in their home tournament. But other results went their way meaning they go through to face Senegal as one of the best third-place finishers. That is the beauty of AFCON, finishing third doesn't certify eradication.



The knockout stages are sure to have more exciting drama with late goals as the tournament gets closer to its climax. Is there room for more upsets on the card? And who will come out on top? Even if people would rather watch the Premier League action on the weekend, at least give AFCON a go, as you never know what might happen.



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