Kwesé in discussions with Roku over Netflix streaming service in South Africa

5 July 2019

Digital Content

Econet Media has told MyBroadband that it will hopefully have an update later this afternoon or tomorrow regarding its ongoing discussions with Roku over the shutdown of Kwesé Play.

This comes after subscribers were greeted with a message on their devices yesterday stating that Econet had shut down Kwesé Play.

Responding to questions, Roku told MyBroadband that Econet licensed its platform to deliver the Kwesé Play streaming service.

“Econet is shutting down the Kwesé Play service and is no longer working with Roku. For more information contact Kwesé/Econet,” Roku said.

However, Econet has a different version of events, stating that it has been in negotiations with Roku about the viability of the Kwesé Play service and Roku’s future plans for the African market.

According to Econet, Kwesé Play was shut down amidst the ongoing negotiations.

Kwesé Play launched in South Africa in September 2017, after Econet Media inked deals with Roku and Netflix to be official partners for the companies in Africa.

As part of the partnership, Roku supplied a customised player for Kwesé Play with a reduced number of channels available. This was to address concerns over the availability of apps that enable piracy, Econet said at the time.

Econet Media is part of the Econet group of companies, which also owns Liquid Telecom.

Surprise shut-down

We asked Econet about Roku’s assertion that it was Econet Media itself which shut down Kwesé Play, and the company reiterated the statement it sent to subscribers yesterday:

Pan-African broadcaster, Econet Media, has noted that customers received a notification on their devices yesterday that they had been deactivated.

Kwesé Play service was launched in partnership with Roku, a US-based OTT streaming platform. We have been in discussions with Roku regarding the viability of the Kwesé Play service.

The closure of the service and the message relayed on the device yesterday was unexpected and comes at a time when we are engaged in discussions with Roku about their future plans on Africa.

We apologise for the inconvenience and are working on resolving this. Detailed communication will be provided to all customers in due course.

Econet Media’s pay TV business in administration

The sudden shut down of Kwesé Play comes as Econet Media confirmed that its satellite pay TV business is under administration.

Quoting Kwesé CEO Joseph Hundah, BusinessLive reported that the Econet group’s struggle to get money out of Zimbabwe had an impact on the business.

Hundah also said that no other business in the Econet global group was affected, according to the report.

Source: MyBroadband