Sports content has been one of the most competitive areas for pay TV service providers in the African continent. MultiChoice through its SuperSport channels has reigned supreme in this space but recent moves by players such as StarTimes and Azam has seen it cede some of the market shares. Early in the year, Econet Media associated with Billionaire Strive Masiyiwa launched Kwese TV, with the aim of taking on SuperSport in this space. Through their channel, Kwese Free Sports, has been keen to build on its content by showcasing the English Premier League as well as acquiring the rights to showcase National Basketball Association (NBA), Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) and most recently the National Football League (NFL).
Kwese has today announced the signing of a massive deal with ESPN, to deliver sports content in 19 Sub-Saharan African Nations. The deal which kicks off in 2017, will seek to deliver content to viewers through TV and digital platforms. ESPN will for instance produce SportsCenter updates for the African continent which will include sports news and highlights. The deal will also by mid-2017 see ESPN and Kwese collaborate in the launch of the African edition of the ESPN website and mobile app. The website KweseESPN.com, will combine ESPN’s coverage of global sports with African sports news, analysis and perspectives from Kwesé.
Kwese has further licensed thousands of hours of ESPN content including live sports and original programming. The live sports content includes U.S. college football, college basketball, Boxing, Verizon IndyCar Series among others. The original programming will include SportsCenter program and ESPN sports documentaries. Content will be available as a channel on a free-to-air set-top box, with users also able to access the same content online.
Locally, Kwese has engaged content producers with the goal of producing its own independent content. It has already signed up two new shows, Xtreme Outdoor Africa and Ball N’Africa which will begin airing in 2017. It will be interesting to see how this matches up in the space.