Kwese is the shake-up that Uganda’s pay TV market has needed for years

Kwese is the shake-up that Uganda’s pay TV market has needed for years
Eazzy Banking

Remember Gateway Broadcasting Services (GTV), a British-based pay satellite television company who in 2008 announced their satellite service football and fans celebrated across the country only to get to liquidated one year later succumbing to the global financial turmoil. The pay television network left thousands of subscribers, including many English Premier League fans, stunned as it withdrew its services, GTV used its exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League matches to gain a following in Uganda.

This is hard to believe when the company had predicted a break even towards the end of 2009.

Before the GTV mess, for long, the monopoly in Uganda’s pay TV market gave rise to the wrong perception that the service is a high-end luxury facility that is reserved for the wealthy. By 2007, Uganda had less than 50,000 pay TV subscribers hooked on the ‘expensive and luxurious’ DStv, a service platform by MultiChoice. Next Generation Services (Smart TV), Pearl Digital and Cable TV and others completely wound up around 2012.

However, the number has since grown tremendously. Data from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)-the sector’s regulatory body attests to this as the country has an estimated 7-8 million TV sets.

Enter Kwese

A new boss is in town, Kwesé TV, a pan-African broadcast network, has officially been launched in Uganda. Going by the presentations at their launch at Kabira Country Club on Tuesday (Oct 17), the new broadcast network is offering signal, will very easily eat into the MultiChoice (DStv and GOtv) and StarTimes digital TV subscriber base and has high chances of enjoying brand popularity to content variety.

Market experts say Kwese brings a whole new world of premium sports and general entertainment content to the market. It boasts of a specially curated slim bouquet of 60+ channels which includes exclusive channels such as DreamWorks, DTX, VICELAND and Diddy’s REVOLT.

Kwese also has a deal with the United States NBA to broadcast live games in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Uganda, Kwesé TV’s programming line-up will also include local free-to- air channels such as NBS, NTV, Bukedde and UBC, with additional channels to be made available in due course.

Kwese TV customers will have the option to purchase three-day subscriptions in pay-as-you-watch packages it hopes will help it crack Uganda’s highly competitive market.

This was revealed by Herbert Mucunguzi, the General Manager Kwesé TV Uganda.

He told journalists that Kwesé will give Ugandan consumers the choice to purchase pay-as-you-watch subscription packages. Consumers will have the option to purchase three, seven or 30 day subscriptions to access Kwesé’s full programming line-up.

“Kwesé’s appeal is not only its world-class content but also its innovative payment model which has never been adopted in this market. Never before has such premium content been available for as little as 17,000 UGX for a three day subscription. At Kwesé we believe that world class content needs to be accessible to audiences not only through multiple platforms but also at affordable prices,” explained Herbert Mucunguzi.

“African viewers have become increasingly more discerning and we cater to these diverse viewing appetites not only through premium content but also by means of a multi-platform broadcast offering which includes traditional TV, mobile apps and digital viewing options.” He added.

Kwesé TV is currently available at branded dealer outlets both in urban centers and rural areas throughout the country and includes a free 30-day subscription for new installations. Kwesé TV’s full suite bouquet can be accessed via Kwesé’s own satellite and set-top- box (decoder) available at leading retailers or online via e-dealers. It is clear that Kwese TV understands it’ll ultimately compete against global TV streaming companies like Netflix who are also now targeting this market.

Financially strong

Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa owns it through Econet Media and is spending about US $1.19 billion on content acquisition in the next 5 years. The spend will be split between two categories of content – Sports and General Entertainment – almost equally. Sports content, which Kwese TV has heavily relied on so far to position itself as the alternative TV for young male Africans, will gobble up $592 million. General Entertainment on the other hand will take up $600 million over the next 5 years.

Access will be through streaming as the Econet Group – also owned by Masiyiwa through Liquid Telecom – already has a presence in the broadband internet market in the country.

“The investment we are looking at in Uganda and continentwide is going to stand the test of time because Econet does not put money in things that will fail,” Herbert Mucunguzi said.

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