Tag Archives: Kwesé Play

Kwesé Play shuts down

Econet Media has confirmed that its Kwesé Play streaming service is entering liquidation.

Kwesé Play is no more

The announcement comes weeks after Kwesé TV went into administration. Despite US firm Roku, which provided the devices on which Kwesé Play runs, revealing its partnership with Econet had ended, Econet has waited until now to confirm the service is being shuttered.

“It is with deep regret that we are announcing the liquidation of Kwesé Play,” Econet said in a statement.

“A few weeks ago, Roku, our technology platform partners, deactivated all the Kwesé Play devices in our markets and customers have been unable to use them to watch Netflix, YouTube and other apps on their TVs.

“We’ve spent considerable time negotiating with Roku in order to reactivate the devices, but have unfortunately been unsuccessful. This means that the Kwesé Play devices will remain deactivated and will no longer work.”

A Roku statement added: “Econet licensed our platform to deliver the Kwesé Play streaming service to its customers. Econet is shutting down the Kwesé Play service and is no longer working with Roku.”

Econet intends to compensate its customers with airtime equivalent to wait they paid for their Roku device. “In recognition of your unwavering support, Econet Media is offering you airtime equivalent to the purchase value of the Kwesé Play Roku device you acquired,” the company said. “You are free to use the airtime for all your voice or data transactions. The airtime shall be valid for a period of 30 days from the date of credit.

“It’s only customers who bought the devices that will be compensated and not those who got it for free.”

Kwesé Play was launched in partnership with US-based OTT platform Roku in 2018.

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Kwesé TV goes into administration

Econet Media’s Kwesé TV pay television business has been placed in administration as a result of the challenges it has faced in several countries.

Joseph Hundah

The news comes soon after subscribers to the Kwesé Play streaming platform received a message on their screens saying Econet has dropped it for technical reasons.

Consequently, customers no longer have access to its streaming service, Kwesé Iflix, according to reports.

In an effort to revive the business, the administration process will be handled and managed by accountants Ernst & Young, said CEO Joseph Hundah.

“Kwesé’s free-to-air business was too small to sustain the financial burden of its satellite operations, which led to the decision to negotiate with creditors,” he said.

“The company struggled with the foreign currency restrictions in Zimbabwe, who stopped recognising the US dollar, South African Rand and other foreign currencies as legal tender in June in a bid to curb black-market trading.

“The group’s inability to exit money out of Zimbabwe has had an impact on the business.”

He added that Kwesé TV’s FTA business, Kwesé Free TV, which received a licence from communications regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in March, would continue operating in the rest of Africa, and that no other business in the Econet group is affected by the administration process.

ICASA has given Kwesé 24 months to launch the service, a time frame set to elapse in March 2021. Other shareholders in Kwesé Free TV include Royal Bafokeng Metix (45%) and Mosong Capital (35%).

Econet Media is owned by Strive Masiyiwa. Roku-powered Kwesé Play launched in 2018.

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Kwesé TV viewers react to channel cuts

Subscribers to the pay TV services owned by Econet Media have reacted with mixed feelings to the company’s decision to shutter satellite TV platform Kwesé TV and reduce of channels it offers elsewhere.

Earlier this week, Econet pulled the plug on its 18-month-old satellite pay TV service Kwesé TV as it aligns its business to growth in fixed broadband and mobile penetration on the African continent.

Johannesburg-based Econet is now focusing on free-to-air Kwesé Free Sports, mobile VoD platform Kwesé iflix and OTT service Kwesé Play.

Out of the 65 channels once carried on Kwesé, only about 14 are now being aired on the cable TV platform, including a collection of free channels, Kwesé sports and religious channels. This action took effect on November 1 and resulted in many comments by subscribers.

One Lagos-based subscriber, Mustapha Olaiya, said: “I am surprised at the sudden cancellation of Kwesé TV. I wasn’t expecting it. I was confused when I saw only 14 active channels. Why will Kwesé not inform its customers of this development because I only saw the news online?”

Another Kwesé TV subscriber, based in Ibadan, said: “I just got the decoder three months ago. So what should I do with it? What will happen if the company changes its decision on the new Kwesé Play offer?”

Industry analyst Temidayo Sesan said Kwesé TV’s shutdown was predictable due to stiff competition new entrants face in the pay TV space. He said: “The pattern is the same every time. They arrive, they promise a lot of things, they deliver for a couple of months, struggle for even more months and eventually shut down.”

Customers have been advised to get the new OTT box Kwesé Play in order to gain access to the company’s digital streaming services since the business is being repositioned to focus on mobile entertainment business.

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Econet receives IBC prize

Econet Media picked up this year’s Judges’ Award at the IBC media, entertainment and technology convention in Amsterdam this month.

Michael Lumley

The company was chosen for its effectiveness in pioneering mobile TV and OTT in South Africa through its streaming service, Kwesé Play. This was made possible by various partnerships with technology firms.

Kwesé Play uses technology from Roku and offers access to content like You Tube, Netflix and other channels. Other tech contributors include Verimatrix, for content security, and AWS Elemental, for coding.

Michael Lumley, chair of the IBC judging panel, said: “In our discussions, we recognised that the way the technology partners had collaborated on this project was innovative and successful, but we also felt that the outcome transcended the technology, delivering social change by connecting local people to global content.”

Econet Media is now able to transport its services through its content delivery network with the help of sister company Liquid Telecom. Mobile and broadband networks can access OTT content at low latency across central and southern Africa.

Kwesé Play has content partnerships with more than 150 studios and distributors worldwide, including Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, NBC Universal, Fox, CBS, BBC, Sony Pictures and Discovery.

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Africa tipped for SVoD boom

The number of SVoD customers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will increase from 1.56 million at the end of 2017 to nearly 10 million in 2023, according to a report from UK-based Digital TV Research.

Simon Murray

Titled Sub-Saharan Africa OTT TV & Video Forecasts, the report estimates that across the 35 countries in SSA, there will be 9.99 million SVoD customers five years from now.

South Africa will account for 3.37 million of these and Nigeria will have 2.61 million, the report claims. The two countries are tipped to account for 60% of SSA’s SVoD customers by 2023 – down from 74% in 2017, suggesting the rest of the region is growing faster than the two main countries.

However, the report also predicts SVoD revenues will not increase massively due to the fact some of the new platforms driving subscriber growth are very cheap. SVoD revenue across SSA in 2023 is estimated to be at US$775m.

The recently launched Kwesé Play is tipped to hit 333,000 subscribers in 2023. Meanwhile, iRoko TV is expected to see its customer count rise from 308,000 to 1.54 million over the same period, while iflix is predicted to grow from 17,000 to 741,000 subscribers. DStv Showmax numbers will increase from 334,000 to 1.73 million, the report claims.

Source: Digital TV Research

SSA’s six most popular platforms – Showmax, iRoko, Kwesé Play, iflix, Amazon and Netflix – accounted for 90% of the region’s SVoD subscribers by the end of 2017, with this proportion predicted to be retained across the next five. Despite being relatively expensive, Netflix is still expected to account for 40% of the 2023 total, with an estimated 4.03 million subscribers.

Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: “Market dynamics have shifted over the last year. There have been fewer platform launches, especially on a country level. We believe iRoko will concentrate mostly on West Africa.

“A significant stake in iflix was sold to Econet, which we believe will mean more focus on Eastern and Southern Africa. MultiChoice announced that Showmax will be given free to premium DStv subscribers across Africa, with Compact subscribers offered Showmax for half price.”

Digital TV Research is a London-based research and analytical company. It publishes more than 20 reports, covering over 130 countries, annually.

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