A lot of people, including myself, were shocked by the sudden announcement that Kwese was shutting down. In fact by the time a lot of the subscribers became aware of this the service had for all intents and purposes already stopped operating on the first of November and some had already paid their subscriptions for the month.
While Kwese has promised to refund those who had already paid many Kwese subscribers have a problem:Their decoders have been essentially turned into a Philibao or Wiztech as one subscriber put it referring to the once ubiquitous FTA decoders that became less attractive when eTV and later SABC became encrypted seemingly overnight. So if you are a former Kwese subscriber what are your options?
There are a few options
There are quite a number of options depending on your circumstances. I have listed some here in no particular order of attractiveness:
- Keeping watching the watered down Kwese content
- Exchange your decoder and get the Kwese Play box
- Take advantage of the 12 months iFlix subscription offer
- Go back running to DSTV
- Join DEOD courtesy of Telone
- Consider “grey options” like OpenView HD
- Join Netflix
- Join Showmax
The options in detail
Although Kwese are terminating their premium subscription service there are still a number of channels you can still watch on the Kwese decoder for free. Channels you can watch include Kwese Free Sports, Africa News, DayStar, Ezekiel and France24.I will be honest the only channel that really appeals to me personally here is Kwese Free Sports although its not clear how attractive the programming will be once Kwese stops paying for a lot of content rights as they wind down.
In communications to customers Kwese have given the impression that if you are a “fibre” customer there might be the option for you to turn in your decoder and get the Roku powered Kwese Play set top box instead. This offer is likely limited to ZOL customers and it might be possible for ZOL Wibroniks customers to get in on the deal. The only way to know for sure is to get in touch with your nearest ZOL branch and ask about exploring this option. The Kwese Play box allows you to access “over 2 000 channels” including Redbull, TED and YouTube TV.
Other Kwese customers are entitled to a 12 month free iFlix subscription. The great thing about this option is that you can take advantage of it no matter what other option on my list you go for. iFlix does not have a big library but there is something for everyone in their catalogue. You will need to use your own data or internet connection to enjoy iFlix unless you are using a Kwese Play box and Wibroniks/Fibroniks connection where the service is zero rated.
DSTV has been around a long time and they are still the service to beat. Many including Kwese have tried to dethrone them with no success although services like NetFlix have been stealing their thunder in recent years. You can tuck the tail between your legs, stop eating from the Kwese trough and be a prodigal son/daughter and come back home to big daddy DSTV. Doing so would require you to furnish your apology/subscription in real USD. I live for the day when FCA accounts can conveniently pay for DSTV subscriptions just like the old 2013 days.
You can always sign up for Telone’s DEOD. It doesn’t have an library as extensive as say Netflix but there is still something to watch and you can pay using Ecocash. This is an especially great option if you are a Telone subscriber for although the service is not really Zero rated you get 100GB of streaming data. Even I cannot gobble that streaming in SD.
Then there is always good old Netflix and Showmax. Both will set you back a mere $8/month in real USD (can be more with Netflix) and require you to have a Visa/MasterCard that can make international payments. They also require an internet speed of at least 2 mbps. If you can afford them then you are in for a treat. Just know with these and DEOD you will have to live without sports.
Subscribers in other countries might have options to other satellite services besides DSTV for example StarSat and OpenView HD. The signals for these services cover Zimbabwe so it’s technically possible though not entirely legal to subscribe to these services.
uHuruTV is still alive for those interested in sports and live streaming of movies. They even sell set top boxes although their service is not as well marketed these days and they have gone a little quiet. I reached out to them and it seems they are operational. Again you will require a fast internet connection if you choose this route.
The choice is yours
A lot of these options require you to either have a fast internet connection, pay DSTV in real USD or essentially break the law. Kwese was an especially attractive option to those who had no internet connection and could not access USD to make DSTV payments with. With its demise it has left a gap that’s not going to be easy to fill.
In the meantime if you were a Kwese subscriber you can do with the options above as you nurse your wounds.