African entertainment platform Kwese iflix has announced plans to showcase more African content including docuseries, African dramas, pan-regional alternative news and live coverage.
The move has come about after the company premiered its first original series in Kenya, called Nganya. This 13-part drama is produced by local production outfit Assignments Studios and the storyline revolves around the matatu business in Nairobi’s Eastlands.
Customers who have the Kwesé iflix app can now stream, download and watch this series whenever they want to.
In addition, Kwese iflix has announced another original Tanzanian telenovela, titled Nyavu, which will be released in December, while an innovative docuseries will be launched early next year in Nigeria.
The moves confirmed the company’s dedication to local and home-grown talent, Kwese iflix said.
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.
Sub-Saharan pay TV platform Kwesé TV aims to change the narrative of Africa’s media, according to a top exec at its parent company Econet Media.
Zachary Wazara, executive director at Econet, revealed that Kwesé is focused on ensuring Africa can access content without having to rely on pay TV.
“The free-to-air [FTA] business is intended to extend TV’s reach in Africa, recognising the fact that not everyone can afford pay TV. In Nigeria, for the Fifa World Cup, our [FTA channel] Kwesé Free Sports has signed up with Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria so that instead of 4.5 million pay customers watching the World Cup, we can now take the World Cup to between 100 million and 120 million people,” he said.
According to Wazara, Kwesé is changing the way people see pay TV, ensuring its sports channel is available to everyone on not just satellite TV but terrestrial as well.
In the past, Africa’s sports programming has been available on pay TV, but Kwesé Free Sports “gives the average African an opportunity to watch Formula 1, NBA and boxing at the highest level, to watch every single sport that is out there,” whereas before they were restricted to soccer, he said.
“Our objective is to begin to introduce different types of sports at international level, so we can also inspire our kids, by saying, ‘It’s not just about running, but more. Like tennis and rugby.’ Which is primarily why we introduced Kwesé Free Sports in 23 countries,” Wazara explained.
“Kwesé TV, which is our satellite business, competes against other brands that you know out there in the market. In Nigeria, our satellite TV has got the best clarity.
“Our objective is to do with satellite TV what was done with prepaid mobile – ensuring that anyone out there can have satellite television.”
In related news, Kwesé has just launched mobile app Kwesé iflix, which allows for flexible in-app subscriptions.
The subscription plans include three days for N250, seven days for N500 and 30 days for N1,000. Customers who download the app now get an opportunity to view 32 World Cup matches for free.
African entertainment platform Kwesé Iflix has partnered with entertainment company Flytime Productions to offer subscribers more local content.
Viewers who missed watching the just concluded live comedy show Bovi Man on Fire can now watch the show by registering on the app without paying a subscription.
This partnership came about to re-emphasise Kwesé Iflix’s commitment to make more local content available to its viewers.
Ngozi Madueke-Dozie, general manager of Kwesé Iflix (West Africa), said: “Local content remains a key component of our content strategy. That’s why we have partnered with Flytime Promotions to bring this show to our audience. We are very excited about this collaboration and our audience can only expect the best.”
Kwesé Iflix is available in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius, with operations extending to Rwanda, Botswana, Lesotho, and Malawi.
The Kwesé Iflix SVoD platform is offering Nigerians easier ways to pay for its entertainment programmes and news and sport updates.
The platform has struck partnerships with outfits including digital payment processor Clickatell Transact, Guaranty Trust Bank and other banks.
Kwesé Iflix’s VIP subscribers can access local and international movies and TV shows including lifestyle content and children’s programmes.
Through Clickatell Transact, customers can now make payments for Kwese Iflix VIP subscriptions via banking platforms and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data services supported by Clickatell Transact.
The Kwesé Iflix platform also enables users to download or stream other subscription content such as football, boxing and UEFA games.
The partnership was announced by Kwesé Iflix CEO Mayur Patel: “As Nigeria’s leading distributor of airtime, data and digital products, we attempt to expand our service in order to allow many people to have access to our world-class sports and entertainment programmes.
“We are devoted to giving the best mobile TV experience to our customers within the country, through our partnership with Clickatell Transact.”
Jeppe Dorff, MD and executive VP of Clickatell Transact, said: “Our focus is to create real and sustainable value for our all of our customers in Nigeria. We have been looking for partners with strong and growing brands in the market. We are pleased about this partnership and looking forward to working with Kwesé Iflix to gain more consumers across the country.”
Nigerian viewers can also watch free content on local free-to-air TV stations, drama series and TV shows via Kwesé Iflix.
The platform is a joint venture between Johannesburg-based Econet Media Group and Asian SVoD service Iflix.
Kwesé iflix has partnered with two telcos to make the new African streaming service available to more customers.
Days after its launch, Kwesé iflix – which is offering coverage on the ongoing FIFA World Cup – has struck strategic partnerships with MTN and 9mobile, giving their subscribers access to the fledgling platform.
Adeolu Cairo, 9mobile’s director of consumer segment, said: “As an innovative and customer-centric telecom operator, 9mobile is always on the look-out for ground-breaking ways to enrich the lives of our teeming customers and Nigerians as a whole.
“Therefore, we are excited at the ample opportunity this collaboration with Kwesé iflix affords us to increase our investment in bolstering the growth of football and the bourgeoning Nigerian entertainment industry in a way never seen before.”
9mobile customers will be offered premium VIP Kwesé iflix content for three hours at N500 (US$1.38). Customers also have an option of subscribing to Kwesé iflix for N500 for three hours (valid for three days), N1000 for seven hours (seven days) and N2500 for 15 hours (30 days).
Richard Iweanoge, general manager of brands and communication at MTN Nigeria, said: “We are excited to be working with Nigeria’s emergent digital entertainment provider to offer premium TV and video content to our consumers.
“Some of the extraordinary content on offer includes live coverage of the World Cup tournament in Russia, blockbuster movies and much more.
“This is part of our effort to continue to deliver innovative services to Nigerians through our wide distribution network across the country – in consonance with the MTN vision to lead the delivery of a bold, new, digital world.”
MTN will offer its subscribers 24-hour access to the Kwesé iflix app at the rate of N250. Customers can access data bundles on MTN to choose between one-day, three-day, seven-day or 30-day VIP passes.
Kwesé iflix initially launched in partnership with Bharti Airtel, another of Nigeria’s leading telcos.
Airtel offers its subscribers unlimited streaming of all Kwesé iflix premium VIP content for N300 per 24 hours. It also offers one-, three-, seven- and 30-day VIP passes.
Kwesé iflix is a joint venture between between Econet and and iflix. One of its main attractions is its freemium tier, which allows users to access a range of programmes for free.
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.
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.
Pay TV service Kwesé TV has unveiled a mobile service in partnership with iflix, including live coverage of the World Cup.
Kwesé iflix offers all-round video entertainment and access to numerous programmes and premium content, as well as live 2018 Fifa World Cup matches.
Mayur Patel, Kwesé iflix’s CEO, said the service is aimed at the mobile generation who prefer to watch TV on the go and want unlimited access to content.
Kwesé iflix can be downloaded for free from the Google and Apple app stores. In-app subscription options are available to customers, including one-, three-, seven- and 30-day VIP passes.
Iflix launched in Nigeria last August, three years after it began operations in Malaysia.
It partners with more than 220 studios and distributors, which allows it to offer a wide range of movies and TV drama series, locally and globally.
Kwesé is fast becoming one the leading pay TV network in Nigeria. It is also one of the three TV platforms in the country to have exclusive rights to air the World Cup. The others are SuperSports (on DSTV and GOtv) and StarTimes.