EXCLUSIVE: Kwesé to close its pay-television channels in Africa

African broadcaster Kwesé TV will begin shutting down its pay-television sports and entertainment channels after a torrid 18 months littered with missed payments and cancelled deals.

Kwesé will either cancel or renegotiate its deals for pay-television rights to various sports properties, many of which also include free-to-air and digital rights.

An internal communication from Kwesé chief executive Joseph Hundah, obtained by SportBusiness Media, said: “We will streamline our direct-to-home, satellite television service. This means we will reduce our third-party channels as well as remove our own Kwesé-branded sports and general entertainment channels except Kwesé Free Sports.”

The communication does not directly state that employees will be laid off. Instead, it says: “We are in the process of reviewing our operational structures across our markets, which may result in changes across various business units.”

It continued: “Please feel free to engage the executive team member within your division for clarity.”

Since April 2017, Kwesé has either missed or been late on payments to: Fifa, Uefa, the English Premier League, Formula One, the NBA, ESPN and the beIN Media Group. The company has almost solely relied on funding rounds to pay rights-holders this year.

Kwesé will now focus on its Kwesé Free Sports business – which distributes blocks of branded free-to-air sports programming to broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa – and its Kwesé iFlix and Kwesé Play digital services from 2019 onward.

Kwesé was the third African pay-television operator in the last 10 years to take on media group Multichoice, which owns the region’s dominant pay-television operator (DStv) and sports broadcaster (SuperSport). Kwesé is also the third African operator to accrue large debts, miss payments and close its channels prematurely.

Most recent

Pay-television broadcaster BT Sport took advantage of Sky’s long-running concerns over wrestling body WWE’s OTT service to grab WWE rights in the UK and Ireland from its rival at a steep discount, SportBusiness Media understands.

As TikTok has grown into one of the world's most popular social-media apps during the past year, the short-form video-sharing platform has become an important tool for sports rights-holders to expand and engage their fanbases. 

Turkish agency Saran has negotiated a price reduction for rights to the English Premier League for the 2019-22 cycle, SportBusiness Media understands, the first time it has achieved this since acquiring the property at the turn of the decade.

Mola TV, the new entrant to Indonesia’s sports broadcasting market, is employing a novel strategy straddling pay-television, free-to-air and digital distribution channels to exploit the Premier League rights it has acquired for the upcoming 2019-22 cycle.