Econet Media, the broadcasting arm of the Econet Wireless Group has finally launched Kwesé TV with a few exceptions from what has been anticipated all these months.
The new entertainment service went live on the 11th of August through a free to air (FTA) channel called Kwesé Free Sports which is only available in Kenya.
It can be accessed on any FTA set-top box (a decoder) or digital TV with a built-in set-top box. On this channel, Econet Media will be able to deliver the sports content that it has spent the past several months acquiring rights to.
This includes the English Premier League Football which has been a major marketing tool for the service because of the popularity of the sport and the league across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Econet Media’s launch of Kwesé, albeit to a limited audience just before the start of the new English Premier League season isn’t surprising. This was part of the agreement entered into when it acquired the rights – It has to broadcast content as soon as the season starts.
A focus on the Kenyan market alone might be a damper for potential fans and ready-to-ditch-DStv viewers in other markets but it’s probably just Econet Media’s way of going live and fulfilling its contractual obligations in a market that is easier to launch a new TV service in.
As one of the African countries that covered the digital migration process early Kenya also has expanded its set-top box market to over 2 million homes which is a decent number for a single market standard.
What is a bit surprising though is the move to Direct to TV(DTT) model. The dream of Kwesé TV has been sold to content distributors as well as potential fans through the strengths of mobile TV.
Kwesé is supposed to come in with an extensive entertainment option that anyone on an appropriate internet ready phone can access, opening it up to a wider market than the one that has been shaped by viewers using decoders.
Perhaps this is a reflection of other challenges that could be inherent with Internet TV in Africa. While we wait for insight from Econet Media it will be worth watching how Kwesé TV is introduced to other markets.