Econet Media has announced that it will be shutting down its satellite and broadcasting network Kwese which was launched last year. Kwese which was hyped as a rival to DStv on the pay television scene appears to have struggled to make a significant impact on the market leading to Econet to make a decision to cut its losses. Effective from the 1st of November (2018), Kwese will no longer have the satellite component and will be offering only three services, Kwese Free Sports, Kwese iflix and Kwese Play. In a notice to customers, Econet wrote
Econet Media refocuses business towards a digital future
HARARE, 1 November 2018 – In order to maintain its position as a leader in broadcasting innovation in Africa, Econet Media has reviewed its business strategy and service offerings, to align them with the changes in the global digital and satellite broadcasting sector, and growth in access to mobile and fixed broadband on the continent.
The strategy review will see Africa’s leading multiplatform broadcast network focusing on three core services; Kwesé Free Sports (KFS), Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play. KFS is Africa’s largest free-to-air TV service, Kwesé iflix is Africa’s leading mobile video-on-demand sports and entertainment platform while Kwesé Play is a leading-edge video streaming service with more than 200 sports, entertainment, kids and news channels including Red Bull TV, NBA, YouTube, TED and Bloomberg.
With increased focus on these three services, Econet Media will streamline its direct-to-home satellite television service. This will see the reduction of third-party channels available on the bouquet, as well as the removal of Kwesé branded sports (excluding KFS) and general entertainment channels. The broadcaster’s new bouquet will carry FTA, religious, and free news channels which will be available to viewers for a minimal fee, as the broadcaster will waive monthly subscription fees. Kwesé subscribers who have already paid their subscriptions for the month of November, or in advance, will receive a full refund.
Kwesé was launched at a time when the global pay television industry was in transition. Business models were evolving from traditional content rights linked to linear broadcast channels, to premium content rights moving towards digital media platforms.
Kwesé has built a satellite TV business with presence in 11 markets, a free-to-air business across 27 countries, delivered the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ across Africa to a network of 115 sub-license broadcasters across 37 countries – reaching over 200 million households, acquired a controlling stake in a leading mobile video-on-demand service, and launched its own OTT service Kwesé Play. The business has also managed to secure leading sports rights and general entertainment channels to build a compelling content offering across its platforms, making a significant shift in the continent’s complex and competitive media industry.
Having recognised the importance of carrying original local content, Econet Media will also establish its own content creation hub, Kwesé Studios. Through Kwesé Studios, Econet Media will invest in developing its own original programming and provide a platform for African producers, scriptwriters, actors and directors to tell authentic African stories on a pan-African broadcast network.
These changes are in keeping with Kwesé’s commitment to providing affordable premium content, maintaining an innovative approach to content delivery and being attuned to audience viewing and purchasing habits.
As a consequence of the revised business model, Econet Media is reviewing its operational structures across all markets where Kwesé TV has presence which may result in changes to the company’s various business units.
Joe Hundah, Group President and Chief Executive of Econet Media, says the business’ repositioning is perfectly timed in response to market trends.
“We believe these changes will safeguard the future success of our business as we continue to make an indelible impact on Africa’s media industry. The revised business strategy will also ensure that Kwesé TV continues to remain competitive within the industry. Refocusing our business offering across markets, is a strategic move which aligns our business to OTT and video-on-demand trends which present significant growth opportunities for Kwesé. This renewed focus on digital services will see us providing new compelling offers for our customer’s enjoyment.”
“Additionally, through the development of the Kwesé Studios content hub, Econet Media will now have a legitimate claim to being the home of African content, as we will now create a place where Africans can tell their own stories and shape their own narrative.”
“Kwesé’s entry into the market had a game-changing impact on the media industry. With these changes, we believe Kwesé will continue to positively disrupt the industry for the benefit of African consumers, as we continue to provide affordable premium content through digital media services.”