UK public broadcaster the BBC will air live matches from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations national teams tournament after striking a last-minute free-to-air rights (FTA) deal.

Through the eleventh-hour tie-up, the BBC will air 10 matches live, including the tournament’s opening game between hosts Ivory Coast and Guiena-Bissau on January 13, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals, and the final on February 11.

Other games include the group-stage match between four-time champions Ghana and seven-time winners Egypt on January 18 and two fixtures from the last-16 stage.

Nine matches will be aired live on the BBC Three channel, with one on BBC Two. All games will also be available via the broadcaster’s streaming service BBC iPlayer and on its website.

Pay-TV giant Sky Sports holds UK rights to all 52 matches during the tournament, meanwhile, through an agreement unveiled earlier this month.

Sky also covered the previous AFCON, in 2021.

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Stephen Lyle, BBC Sport’s head of football, said: “We are thrilled to bring audiences live, FTA coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations once again.

“In 2021, AFCON delivered the highest audience for BBC Three since it returned as a linear channel at 1.3 million, demonstrating the strong demand from audiences. Our TV rights package includes 10 matches from across every stage of the competition, meaning fans can follow the excitement and drama of this huge international competition from beginning to end.”

The new deal adds to BBC Sports’ portfolio of rights, which includes the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, English soccer’s Premier League and FA Cup, the Wimbledon Championships tennis grand slam, and rugby union’s Six Nations.

As well as live coverage, BBC will also provide highlights from all matches during the tournament across its BBC Sport website and social media channels. 

The deal comes after CAF announced earlier this week that it had concluded its TV rights sales for the 2023 edition with over 20 global deals, including high-profile sports media networks such as SportItalia in Italy, Ziggo in the Netherlands, the LaLiga+ streaming service in Spain, Fancode in India, Band TV in Brazil, and Sport 5 in Israel.

Multichoice, the sub-Saharan African broadcast heavyweight, finally secured a deal yesterday (January 11), ending a potential blackout across the region.

The majority of the deals were brokered by IMG, the global sports marketing agency, which is CAF’s international distribution partner for all regions except the Middle and North Africa region and sub-Saharan Africa.

The upcoming edition, featuring the 24 best national teams from Africa, was initially scheduled for 2023 but was postponed by a year due to extreme weather conditions in Ivory Coast.

The 2025 edition, meanwhile, will be held in Morocco during the middle of the year to bring the competition in line with other national team tournament schedules.