So Kwese satellite TV has been on the market for a year and a half but it seems that Kwese is already shifting strategies and ditching a service that was met with huge waves of excitement followed by an underwhelming sense of inadequacy… Let’s take a look at why Kwese couldn’t hit the home run with their satellite TV service in spite of people feeling like their presence in that market was necessary.
What makes the untimely death of Kwese sadder is the fact that setting up in Zimbabwe was a battle. It became more than a discussion about just entertainment and competition. It was actually a political battle as well and by the time they got that licensing they had already garnered a lot of public sympathy and momentum. Because of the ‘politics’ involved and the fact that Kwese was offering competition to DStv – which insists on people paying in USD- there was a lot of appetite for the broadcaster to get into Zim.
So what went wrong for Kwese?
“There’s nothing to watch!!!”
When Kwese was announced and people began seeing the content on offer, there was a bit of confusion. “Is this all there is?”, probably sums up the way many felt. They had fewer channels than DStv and the fewer channels had less interesting content than DStv -which is an awkward position to be in. The fact that you could pay less for Kwese and you could pay in bollars/zollars quickly went out of the window when people actually realised what they were getting.
There were American sports and when we signed up Kwese I was excited to watch as much NBA as I could but then I realised a few things; You can’t watch NBA all day, every day. Well, you can but that wouldn’t exactly be fun. Secondly, the times these sports air are quite crazy. Usually, they start airing in the early hours of the morning and because of time differences, this meant if you were a Kwese subscriber then you had to be awake during these hours or you had to watch highlights the next day. Not an ideal situation whichever way you look at it.
A few months after Kwese’s release they started losing customers rapidly and I remember my mother’s slogan quickly became “Kwese yakadhakwa” whenever anything about Kwese was mentioned. The average consumer had made their mind up about the service and coming back from that proved to be impossible for Kwese.
Is the EPL the King maker in Africa?
Of course the English Premier League falls under content, but clearly, some content is more equal than the others. The EPL as its commonly known has a huge following in Africa and because that’s the case when people realised that Kwese TV would only show one match per week, they weren’t too happy. The one match that was showed usually featured smaller teams and thus no one was really excited about that. I can go as far as saying the lack of EPL is what brought Kwese TV to its knees…
By the time Kwese closed down they were no longer offering that single match, as well as the Spanish Copa Del Rey. Basically, all the football was gone. And the customers were following suit.
Because Kwese were haemorrhaging customers a few months after launch there was a disastrous domino effect. With no customers in place to bring in money, there was no money to pay for licencing of content.
On a couple of occasions, reports surfaced of Kwese’s financial troubles and failure to meet financial obligations. The broadcaster was said to be failing to pay for the rights of the 2018 World Cup, The Euro 2020 and some other football competitions. There was also some excitement when it was reported that Kwese would start airing the French Ligue 1. This too didn’t materialise.
Channels started disappearing nicodemously and popular channels such as Fox Africa and Nat Geo disappeared – another blow for those who didn’t care about sports. Kwese had promised 23 new channels by March of this year but the opposite was happening. Channels were vanishing.
…And thus hear we are now; Kwese’s satellite TV offering is dead, and it will be missed by very few people. Hopefully, Kwese can transition into being a successful media company in the digital age. They still have Kwese Play and Kwese iflix, so all is not lost. In fact, banking on those two services along with Kwese Free Sports they still have a chance of being very successful in the digital age where VoD services like Netflix are king. Hopefully, the Kwese story doesn’t end here and we can see them bring some great local and international content through these platforms.