World Cup Bears Seasonal Bonanza for Businesses

On the evening of June 19, 2018, during the national teams of Senegal and Poland match, the Ras Amba Hotel, located at Arat Kilo on Queen Elizabeth II Street was fully packed with football spectators.

Negus Alemu, 35, and his friend from England, Tewodros Mogasa, 39, were among them. The two football enthusiasts have been waiting for four years to watch the World Cup. The 2018 FIFA World Cup, a month-long event with 64 matches, is hosted by Russia which has spent over 14 billion dollars on the tournament.

The two friends were watching the game where an African team for the first time won a game since the start of the tournament on June 13, 2018.

Just like the two friends, it is customary to see many Ethiopian fans gathering around pubs and showrooms at different hotels and bars watching the games.

This year’s games are televised through different channels including the state broadcaster Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation and the pay tv service providers, DSTv and StarTimes.

Though people have the option to watch football in their homes, many people prefer to go to bars and hotels and be among other fans.

Negus is one of them who prefers to go to the Ras Amba hotel and watch the games.

“I want to always be with my friends in places like this, to share my experiences with them,” Negus told Fortune.

To take advantage of this business opportunity Golden Tulip Hotel, one of the five star and franchise hotels, has installed a 165-inch television screen for the World Cup games.

Tewodros agreed with Negus’s assertion.

“World Cup is more than just a tournament,” he said. “It’s about being together with your friends.”

The desire to be with others while watching the games has opened market opportunities to businesses for hotels, pubs, sports bars and restaurants. These enterprises prepare for occasions like the World Cup by installing large screen televisions and ample open space for football fans to lounge.

Spectators choose these places not only to watch footballs but to also have social connections, according to Alazar Ahmed, a private marketing expert and consultant.

“They go to these places for two purposes, to create social connections and networking,” said Alazar.

Thus, the need to socialise creates market demands that businesses can tap into, according to Alazar.

To take advantage of this business opportunity Golden Tulip Hotel, one of the five star and franchise hotels, has installed a 165-inch television screen for the World Cup games.

“Since then, customer turnout has been better than before,” Kidist Taddese, marketing manager of the hotel told Fortune.

MultiChoice Ethiopia offers a three-month package starting from 15 dollars for 94 channels and 80 dollars for over 100 channels.

The number of viewers grows during the quarterfinals and semi-finals, as the number of teams narrows down and as teams qualified in the first round begin to play in the last rounds, according to the businesses.

At Capital Hotel & Spa, another five-star hotel that has installed a 150 inches television screen, the growth in the number of customers has started to be visible already, according to Abiy Wondimeneh,  marketing manager.

“The crowd is growing,” said Abiy during the second week of the World Cup. “But it is too early to state the revenue contribution of the World Cup to the hotel.”

Apart from the hotels and bars, beverage companies are also in a rush to take advantage of this business opportunity. Coca-Cola and BGI Ethiopia are among them. These companies collaborated and organised events dubbed as “’World Cup Carnival” to show the World Cup games at Millennium Hall with eight projectors, where viewers pay 30 Br a game for the first rounds.  The Millennium Hall hosts 500 to 1,000 people a day.

The fee would go up 50 Br and 100 Br during the semifinal and quarterfinal games, respectively, according to Abel Tefera, the lead event organiser.

During the group stage of the matches, where teams in the same group play each other, viewers can be selective.

“But, when the tournament gets to the quarterfinals and semi-finals the crowd will grow,” Debebe Worku, manager of Ras Amba Hotel, told Fortune.

On June 21, 2018, a group of four were at a fully packed Millennium Hall to watch a game between France and Peru.

“We came from Ayer Tena to watch the game,” said one of them.

In addition to these large venues, the official World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola has collaborated with local pubs developing advertising campaigns to reach the mass rather than boost revenue according to Tigist Mintesinot, Coca-Cola’s brand manager for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

For this purpose, the company has partnered with 60 hotels, bars and restaurants in different parts of the capital.

“In this opportunity, we try to engage the consumer in making predictions about game results We award those whose prediction match the final result,” said Tigist.

Alazar agrees with Tigist’s view that the World Cup gives companies visibility.

“Although the effects might not be seen immediately, such branding activities will be beneficial to the company as the brand will be associated and remain in the viewers’ mind,” said Alazar.

The businesses, hotels, bars, and pubs were airing the matches through pay televisions, mainly DSTv and the late entrant StarTimes.

Individuals are also rushing to buy DSTv packages to watch the games at their homes. A week before the start of the World Cup, there was a long queue at MultiChoice Ethiopia located near the International Airport, which is the sole agent of DStv.

“The package we offered with a discount attracted many people,” said Metasebiya Belayneh, business development manager at MultiChoice Ethiopia.

MultiChoice Ethiopia offers a three-month package starting from 15 dollars for 94 channels and 80 dollars for over 100 channels. StarTimes offers packages ranging from seven dollars for 55 channels and 10 dollars for 100 channels. MultiChoice’s packages have some channels with exclusive broadcasting privilege.

“The demand is very high and beyond our expectation,” said Biruk Gebru, managing director of Bridgetech Broadcasting & Media, who has been selling 300 packages a day since the start of the World Cup.

Contrary to the previous year’s tournaments none of the five national teams from Africa could make it to the knockout phase. The coming back to back games will be seen by almost half the world’s population online and on Tv.




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