So last week ended on quite a sad note for Kwese’s satellite TV offering but if there’s one positive to draw from last week’s announcement was the fact that Kwese is now going to focus on local content.
Something we missed in the excitement of having such a big scoop was this part of Kwese’s statement:
Having recognised the importance of carrying original local content, Econet Media will also establish its own content creation hub, Kwesé Studios. Through Kwesé Studios, Econet Media will invest in developing its own original programming and provide a platform for African producers, script writers, actors and directors to tell authentic African stories on a pan-African broadcast network.
These changes are in keeping with Kwesé’s commitment to providing affordable premium content, maintaining an innovative approach to content delivery and being attuned to audience viewing and purchasing habits.
Without original and engaging local content I felt Kwese was leaving too much of their fate in something they had no control over; the hope was that they could acquire content from other creators and the reality in 2018 and going forward is that this method is quite suicidal. And now that Kwese has woken up and are taking this step I have some faith and I think their VoD dreams are not doomed.
Why take this route?
There’s a simple answer; content is getting more expensive to acquire and because that’s the case everyone is investing in creating original and exclusive content. This is why you see Netflix throwing wads of cash to make Netflix Originals and why Disney is unveiling their own VoD service next year.
This means watching content from the West is going to get harder in the coming few years as you might have to subscribe to Disney’s service to see certain shows and Netflix for others and HBO for others. No one really knows how it will work yet but because everyone is tying down their own content to their VoD service I don’t know what will be left for the likes of iflix and Kwese. This is why it makes total sense for them to also move into this space where they create their own content.
Why this is a big deal?
You might be thinking ‘Local content??? Whyyy?’ If you are, I don’t blame you. Shows coming out of Zim are very hard to get or just generally of poor quality. But with some work, this could be huge for Kwese. South Africa has a vibrant and booming TV industry and more than just looking at the $$$ there’s proof that people will watch content they relate with as long as it’s executed decently. Nigeria has that too and a huge chunk of Africa has been consuming their content for a very long time now.
The interest is there and what was lacking was investment. With companies such as TelOne and Kwese sounding like they are committed to putting some money into this space one can’t help but feel that this can only have positive results.
Employment and creation of a film and TV industry
Look, people constantly complain about how unimpressive our TV industry is but unless someone commits to changing that then we will always complain about how there is nothing engaging. The talent is there! Trust me… A perfect example is Alula Animation who we sat down with a few weeks ago and the work they are doing is quite impressive!
If Kwese lives up to their word along with TelOne and Heart & Soul Broadcasting all live up to their word then we have some exciting times ahead of us. We might finally have a functional TV industry in Zimbabwe and I’m sure that would be welcomed by ordinary zimbos and the people working on this content.
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