Relief for Multichoice as Econet abandons pay-TV service

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In a note to customers, Multichoice's rival, Econet Media, which had established a presence in eleven African markets, said its current subscription services and channel offering, Kwese TV, would cease operations as of the beginning of November 2018.

The drastic move comes at a time when Kwese TV seems to have failed to gain traction with subscribers and viewers as it lacked one of the biggest drawcards for Africa's pay TV services, namely football - the English Premier League in particular.

Multichoice has the rights to air most European football matches across Africa.

In a statement Econet, however, said it had decided to review its business strategy and service offerings to align them with the changes in the global digital and satellite broadcasting sector, and growth in access to mobile and fixed broadband on the continent.

It said the market has shifted since it launched services, forcing the company to revise its strategy.  

The biggest casualty from the change in business model is Kwese TV, which will now only broadcast free-to-air channels, including religious and free news channels.   

While Multichoice might be pleased to see a budding competitor abandon the pay-TV service path, it must still be concerned with the new path the global pay television industry is taking.

Business models are evolving from traditional content rights linked to linear broadcast channels, to premium content rights moving towards digital media platforms.

Joe Hundah, group president and chief executive of Econet Media, says the business' repositioning is perfectly timed in response to market trends.

"Refocusing our business offering across markets, is a strategic move which aligns our business to OTT and video-on-demand trends," he said.

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