Kwese TV ceases satellite service, to focus on digital
Kwese says decoders will no longer be on sale on the market and that customers who had already subscribed for November or upfront will get a refund.
SPORT | Econet Media has ceased satellite service 18 months into the pay TV’s activity across the continent with the Zimbabwe-based pay television service provider, the proprietors of Kwese TV, saying they are refocusing business towards a digital future.
In a statement, released Thursday, the Strive Masiyiwa-owned pay television service provider said the decision follows a review of its business strategy and service offerings that sought to strike a way 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 Econet focusing on Kwesé Free Sports (KFS), Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play, which ostensibly mean the end of Kwesé’s satellite TV and subscription services as well as decoder service.
Collins Mugume, the marketing and PR manager of Kwese Uganda, said the they have already stopped sale of decoders on the market and that channel offering currently available on the bouquet will be terminated and only a selection of channels will remain.
“Kwesé will waive monthly subscription fees however a minimal fee may apply on an annual basis,” Mugume said.
He reassured Kwese customers that they will still be able to watch sports channels on Kwesé Free Sport that will remain available on DTH decoder, as well as on the digital focus areas of Kwesé Play and Kwesé iflix
The DTH (direct-to-home/satellite) services that will continue on decoders include all free-to-air channels offered across geographies as well as a select number of channels such as TBN, God TV, CNC, France 24, DW and Kwese Free Sport.
Mugume said customers who had already paid subscription services for the month of November or in advance will be refunded in full.
“If your subscription was still running but not for a full month, we will reimburse the equivalent of the days remaining,” days.
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.
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.
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.
The challenge, like for others that tried before Kwese, has been a market dominance led by South Africa-based Multichoice, the proprietors of DStv pay television service.
DStv’s premium product has been the sports packages that ultimately keep subscribers coming back. Kwese faced the challenge of keeping a subscriber base while offering minimal premium sports packages, meaning their revenue was low.
Econet Media, therefore, could not see its future in satellite services and has chosen to go the digital way to tap into the growing world of internet.
In line with this, Econet will focus on Kwesé Play, a video streaming service, which is delivered on high speed data networks in particular fibre-to-the-home. Customers with fibres to their homes will have the options of returning their decoders in exchange for Kwese Play.
Kwese Play allows one watch over 200 channel applications of limitless content at a once off cost as long as they have stable internet.
The other digital service offering, Kwese iflix, is a mobile TV app that allows one to watch live or linear content.
Econet said 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.
Joe Hundah, Group president and chief executive of Econet Media, said 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,” he said in the statement.
“This renewed focus on digital services will see us providing new compelling offers for our customer’s enjoyment.”
Hundah said Kwesé’s entry into the market had a game changing impact on the media industry, adding that with the changes, they were confident that 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.”