Econet’s Kwese TV buckles to economic and viability challenges

HARARE- Econet Wireless has announced the official discontinuation of its TV streaming service in Zimbabwe which falls under Econet Media a subsidiary of Econet Group.

Started in 2014, as part of the Econet Group’s diversification drive, Econet Media is a pan African focussed media company offering free to air TV under Kwese  Free TV,  localised content via app under Kwese Plus and  Kwese Play which is an entertainment internet streaming service.

 Its online services leverage the existing expanse network infrastructure across the continent, to roll out services. The strategy has however hit a wall as the company has failed to scale the business as to ensure viability and sustainability.

The presence of a strong competitor in the mould of Naspers, Multichoice which is embedded in Sub Saharan Africa, made it difficult for Kwese to flourish despite consistent twerks to its operating model.

 Typically viability would depend on scale which would ensure a spread in costs across a wider subscription base, thus ensuring reduced and competitive pricing.

However Kwese which is present in at least a dozen African countries including Zimbabwe, has found the going get tougher and its parent is presently under judicial management.

Judicial management is a debt restructuring process, over which a company which has failed to service its debt obligation or is under financial distress asks for independent judicial management while also enjoying a shield from legal proceedings by third parties.

According to TechCentral, a South Africa based newswebsite, Econet Media had accrued over $130 million in outstanding and overdue debt obligation before submitting for voluntary judicial management.

Earlier in 2018, Kwese TV unofficially began the process of discontinuing its pay per view satellite TV service after a difficult 18 months in business. A few months later, Kwese Play, the streaming platform, also discontinued its services in some of the markets including Zimbabwe.

In November 2018, the company abandoned its initial model and turned its concentration to free-to-air content distribution, a service which has now officially been terminated in Zimbabwe.

In an official announcement published over the weekend, Econet Zimbabwe CE Douglas Mboweni said the company regrets to end the Kwese TV service, but argued that sourcing of content required forex, which is presently elusive in Zimbabwe.

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Respect Gwenzi

Respect is the Lead Analyst and Managing Director at Equity Axis. He has 8 years experience in respective fields of finance and media. Particular areas of expertise include Asset Management, Stockbroking and Financial Media. Respect is on a mission to change the course of Financial Media in Africa through digitalization

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