Kwesé Play: Econet bringing Roku box, Netflix to SA - TechCentral

Kwesé Play: Econet bringing Roku box, Netflix to SA

Liquid Telecom sister company Econet Media looks set to bring a fresh injection of competition into South Africa’s pay-television market, announcing on Thursday that it will introduce its Kwesé Play video streaming service to the country and launch a Roku box with Netflix bundled.

The service, which is aimed mainly fibre-to-the-home, ADSL and LTE broadband users, will leverage the fibre backbone network operated by Liquid, which acquired Neotel earlier this year in a R6.5bn deal.

Rather than building its own video-on-demand business, Econet Media has built a platform to house “some of the biggest names in VOD globally”, it said.

Kwesé is the exclusive African partner for Roku, and the company will offer an own-branded Roku box to South African consumers. The box will cost R1 599 and be available from a number of retailers, including Incredible Connection.

It has also announced the launch of a long-term partnership with Netflix for sub-Saharan Africa. As part of the partnership, Kwesé will develop partnerships with telecommunications operators to distribute Kwesé TV and Netflix. It is also working to bring other premium content providers to the platform.

“The first partnership activity is launching the Netflix service on the Kwesé Play streaming box today,” the company said in a statement. “Kwesé Play will launch initially in South Africa and will roll out across Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Kwesé Play also has streaming deals with Iflix, YouTube, RedBull TV, Revolt, TED and HappyKids2. It will offer over 100 VOD services in all, including the ESPN sports channel.

  • Want to know more? Listen to the podcast interview with Kwesé Play CEO Ryan Solovei


  1. Whilst I’m all for adding legit (read legal) competition to the market. I feel that yet another company is attempting to penetrate a new market, whilst shooting too high on the cost side with limited value add whilst trying to take on the very stable incumbent. Ala Altec Node vs. DSTV Explora (ie. the non event).

    First the box retails for R1600, more expensive than an Explora or any of the other HD satellite boxes. First market penetration fail, you should be giving the box away. Well it’s an internet box you say so does not compete directly with the satellite offering, but most internet boxes available in the market (MXQ, MyGica, etc) all retail for R1600 or less (as low as R700 if you shop around). They all offer YouTube, Netflix, TED, et al, whilst also offering Showmax and DSTV Now which, under correction, is not offered on the KwesePlay at this time (if ever, since it has been developed for Android/Apple not Roku).

    Second they force you to use the Kwese App Store, which sounds fine since it’s backed by Roku appstore in general, albeit with an initially limited bouquet, but that’s before you realise that NetFlix, the company they are the big partner in Africa with, actually costs more per month (in Rands at current exchange rate) through their store/interface than if you had signed up with Netflix direct. Another market penetration fail.

    Third, they launched the product in South Africa first and yet South Africa is the one market where they have not yet got permission to broadcast their own exclusive content (KweseMovies, KweseTV, etc). Content that is available in other African countries. How does that make sense?

    So basically, as far as South Africa are concerned, they have launched an overpriced box compared to the available competition with no additional content compared to the competition (limited content if you include Showmax/DSTVnow), and the existing content (Netflix) is overpriced too.

    Kwese, you need to up your game in the South African market (the launch market, no less) if you even hope to make the legal competition wakeup.

    Feel free to correct me where I’m wrong, but that’s what I can see, outside looking in.