Urban Brew Studios is a South African studio owned by Kagiso Media. They have been in the independent television production sector in South Africa since 1995. The studio has grown over the years and now provides various services and creates various types of content, everything from graphics and animation to music composition and end to end television production services.
In short, Urban Brew Studios is not some corner studio, it is a massive company. If you are one of those who follow South African content you have no doubt come across some Urban Brew Studios produced shows. Some of the popular ones include Dance Your Butt Off, Top Actor Africa and Zabalaza.
Last week in South Africa one guy was walking home after a long day’s work and as he passed by an Urban Brew studio he noticed something different. It no longer was an Urban Brews Studio. It was now Kwese Studios. What could that mean?
Could it mean Kwese bought or is buying Urban Brew Studios? That is unlikely as that studio is too massive to be bought. Not that Kwese does not have the financial muscle to do it. Kwese is part of the Econet group and the group has been flexing its financial muscle even as they bought Neotel in South Africa last year for R6.55bn. It is that Kagiso Media is not likely to sell.
Indeed Kagiso Media is not selling Urban Brews Studio. They reached out to confirm that they were merely relocating, here is what they said,
The business is in the process of relocating to Bright Water Commons over the next 6 months. As we are a large and complex organization, the move is happening in various stages. Kwese will be renting the property at 28 Harley Street, Randburg from the current owners and the external branding has therefore been changed.
Urban Brew Studios has not changed ownership but is in the process of a move that will enhance its value proposition as the leading content creator in Africa.
So Kwese is not buying Urban Brew Studios but at the very least Kwese Studios shows Kwese’s commitment to content creation. As Kwese has been expanding across Africa, including in Zimbabwe, some have leveled criticism that they were not being proactive in supporting local content in those countries. Does it make sense to do that though?
You might know of iflix, the Asian Netflix who coincidentally partnered with Kwese recently. Support for local content creators in various regions has been iflix’s strength and that has seen them grow in unprecedented ways in Asia and North Africa. There’s something about seeing your fellow countrymen on TV speaking in your native language that just rubs people the right way.
To get in on the action which gave iflix their growth it would make sense for Kwese to acquire one of the biggest content creators in Africa. If that’s not possible, to establish their own studio creating content for the African market. The South African market is much bigger than Zimbabwe for example and so it makes sense that they started with a studio there.
In Zimbabwe there also is the issue of the pending Supreme Court ruling on whether Kwese can continue operating in the country. That makes it not prudent for Kwese to go all in and establish a studio in this country. Once the licence matter is settled we would expect them to establish one here too, to support the local industry.
Whether Kwese is buying Urban Brew Studios or not it is immaterial at some level. By establishing Kwese Studios it is evident that Kwese is committed to supporting local content creators. We look forward to a Kwese Studios in Zimbabwe and to get some Zimbabwean content on Kwese TV. We need a drama to unite the nation like Gringo did back in the day.
What do you think about Kwese investing in local content? Do you think establishment of studios in Zimbabwe would help resuscitate our dying film industry? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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