Kwese TV takes control of iflix and will use it to drive its mobile roll-outs

23 February 2018

Top Story

This week Econet Media’s Kwese TV bought out iflix’s failing African operation. Russell Southwood looks at how things might have gone wrong for iflix that seems to walk on water in Asia.

It all started so promisingly as iflix bought together its Africa team. The CEO was for CEO of Price Check, Andre de Wet. The Head of Content Evert van der Veer was recruited from Comedy Central where he had headed up its African operation. The Head of Marketing was Jo Eyre who was Senior Marketing and Communications Officer – Sub-Saharan Africa for mobile browser Opera.

It started its roll-out in Anglophone African countries, saying it would steer clear of the more expensive content market of South Africa. Its starting point was do deals with telcos (much as it had done in Asia) across its different territories to bundle content and data in a single price: it would offer either cheap or reduced cost data. (See article in Digital Content Africa)

But before launch, not many of these deals were in place and African mobile operators were not so enthusiastic as their Asian counterparts about the structure of the deal. At the time CEO de Wet said: “It’s not a revenue share but I can’t get into the details”. He was bullish about subscriber numbers:”There will be a few million subscribers. It took iflix two years to get to 5 million in Asia. It might be sooner in Africa. There will be a couple of million over a year to eighteen months”.

Having set up operations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa, iflix offers what the acquisition press release describes as:”the region’s most extensive collection of highly acclaimed local African and international series and movies, including first-to-market exclusive programming”.

iflix Group Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Britt said: “Following the initial phase of building our business in Africa, we have seen tremendous growth across our operating markets, far exceeding our expectations”. However, as with all international platform operators of this kind, there were no user numbers to back up this claim.

Variety reported that Mayur Patel, currently Senior Vice President of Kwese Mobile Experience, will be named CEO of the joint venture between Kwese and iflix. However, as with all these things described asjoint ventures, it’s always most revealing to see which alpha dog has eaten its partner.

“Most of the management team was dissolved”, one former iflix Africa exec said. “Things weren’t defined. They didn’t know exactly what they wanted. There was a lot of inconsistencies about what we hoped to achieve.”

In terms of the consumer, Joe Hundah, CEO Econet Media explained:” Variety the companies would “combine our operations and ultimately offer one app containing both iflix [and Kwese] content.” Those with long memories will recall that Econet Media had its own platform ipidi TV that it rolled out in 2016 before closing it down and partnering with iflix. Better luck second time round.


Digital Content Africa is a fortnightly e-letter covering TV and film, music, social media, media, digital advertising and other digital content and services. It’s essential reading for anyone interested in Africa’s digital transition. We have already produced 105 issues and these can be viewed on this link:

Typical Top Stories will keep your finger on the pulse and have included:     

Building Africa’s digital sharing economy one listing at a time - Airbnb looks for sustainable, inclusive tourism growth across Africa

South Africa’s JOOX takes on the international music streaming brands with local content and quality streaming

Podcasting in South Africa – What’s Working and Why and clues it may offer for the rest of Africa

Vodafone Zambia’s music streaming service “is different to everywhere else” and it’s also planning other digital content services

DISCOP Africa – Key Video On Demand Players give their views on Africa’s digital content future

iflix plans to turn African VoD market on its head and projects 2 million users in two years, local commissions under way

If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to with Digital Content Africa in the title line.

Smart Monkey TV is our web TV channel that tracks what Africa’s Creators and Innovators are saying and doing. It now has 1977 subscribers. The latest video clip interviews that are relevant for you are below. Subscribe by clicking on this link:

Joe Otin, digital advertising agency The Collective on how to make sense of Kenya's internet users

Lindsey Duff on how start-up what3words is creating a digital addressing system for Africa

George Ahere on Weza Interactive's new game Mzito where players purge ancient corruption of Africa

Irfan Mirza on why Tanzanian start-up Trend Solar offers users a solar panel plus smartphone

Chinedu Azodoh on growing Nigerian logistics and transport start-up MAX

Mohamed Benhamadi on Vodacom's View+, a live streaming service for music and sports events

Denis Pagnac, Summview on the lessons learned on how to do VoD effectively in Africa

Akinola Falomo, Devcenter on getting work for a Pan-African developer community

Herman Singh on how MTN sees Africa's digital future...and it's one app

Standard Bank's fashion accelerator Threads - Judges tell start-ups what they're looking for

Inspire challenge entrant Ollie Smeenk, Kukua on getting weather data to African farmers

Lucy K, Mobile Reporting Project, NBC on using phones to record and upload stories to radio and TV