So Kwese has been the talk in the African television industry. Both because the company has been signing lots of content deals in the past year, and that they talk about the deals. It’s a great strategy to stay top of mind.
Techzim ran into the company’s business plan and thought we’d share it. Kwese used it to apply for a TV license in Lesotho. The Lesotho Communications Authority made the business plan and other documents available for download as a way to inform the public and to get comments.
The plan contains whatever Kwese considers harmless enough to share with the public, strategy-wise that is. It’s interesting still to get a little more insight into a company positioning itself to be Africa’s largest on-screen content company.
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You can download the document here, but for those of you too lazy to go through it, here are some highlights:
- Econet Media Limited, the company that owns Kwese, was incorporated in October 2014, more than a year before Strive Masiyiwa announced Kwese on Facebook. Remember Ipidi?
- The deal with Kenyan mobile operator, Safaricom, to have mobile subscribers access Kwese TV content on their phones is the first in many such deals coming with mobile operators. Kwese says in the plan “Initial launch in 4 countries. With 17/18 countries rolled out by June 2017. Dependent on MNO discussions“
- Econet Media is a lot of companies (we counted 28!). A few administrative ones based in Mauritius, and lots operationally across the continent. Companies in Mauritius include Econet Vision, Kwese Free Sports Network, Kwese Films, Kwese Sports Services, Kwesé Films Int, Kwesé Films Africa. There’s a hint of what each is for in the name.
- The Kwese objective is to become an affordable alternative, competing against Multichoice, Star Times and Zuku. An affordable alternative is Star Times’s play too so that might actually be Kwese’s real competition in the long term.
- Offering exclusive content is a key part of Kwese’s strategy and amoung the exclusive content (exclusive meaning content that’s not on DStv, Star Times, Zuku) includes Viceland, Revolt, ZEE World Movies, Dreamworks, Centric, NBA, ESPN and some channels they’ll customise for each market. I’m not big on sports so I have no idea really what the demand for American sports is in Africa, content by Vice and so on. Dreamworks though sounds quite something!
- Kwese hoped to launch in Zimbabwe first before other countries (December 2016). This it appears, was frustrated by local regulators here.
- Kwese hopes to become profitable in 2019. It’s not clear if these are just Lesotho figures or the whole Econet Media. Techzim’s guess is the whole.
- Kwese hopes to spend about 1.1 billion on content in the first 5 years.
- Kwese has hired a team of experienced media executives, most interestingly from Multichoice:
- Joseph Hundah (former SABC, Multichoice, MTG), whom we wrote about here last year. He’s Econet Media President & CEO.
- Jason Probert who apparently was responsible for launching Dstv.com, CatchUp and BoxOffice at Multichoice. He’s Chief Digital Officer at Kwese.
- But there are also notable people like Sumantra Dutta who is CEO of Econet Vision. He was a leader at Star India. We may not know much about it here in Africa, but it’s a big deal in India.
- Others are loyal Econet employees that have bounced from one Econet company to the next. Some, like Morgen Mufowo, have been with the company since 1998. There are also many others whose experience comes from working for broadcasting companies like Fox and telecoms companies. Here’s the org chart: