Malaysia-based subscription video on demand service, iflix, has sold off its remaining stake in iflix Africa to the Econet Media Group.
Econet Media, parent company of Kwese, had in February 2018 acquired a significant stake in the iflix Africa business, leading to the creation of a joint venture called Kwese iflix.
With the joint venture came some significant changes to the mobile streaming app. Live channels and a free-tier were added to the service. Multiple subscription plans – daily, 3-day, 7-day and monthly – were also introduced to suit a low-income African audience.
Kwese’s famed free-to-air (FTA) sports channel, Kwese Free Sports, and about 10 other channels were added on the platform. Kwese Free Sports is one of the free offerings. It gives subscribers access to selected Premier League, NBA and NFL games among other premium sports at no fee. The free-tier also includes some video-on-demand (VoD) content. That means registered users can watch certain series and movies for free.
The changes were also timely. Kwese had exclusive FTA and mobile rights to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and so it was able to attract huge app downloads and eyeballs.
Econet Media’s acquisition of 100% stake in iflix Africa reinforces its recent refocusing of its business to digital services. The company announced in November that it would with be focusing on Kwese Free Sports, Kwese iflix and Kwese Play.
Kwesé iflix is currently available in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. And there are plans to expand operations to Rwanda, Botswana, Lesotho and Malawi. The mobile TV works as a standalone app on iOS and Android devices. And Econet Media is betting on an increasing smartphone penetration to grow the service in sub-Saharan Africa.
On the other hand, Econet Media is Netflix’s official partner in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa. It’s Roku-powered video streaming device, Kwese Play, is home to over 200 apps including Netflix and iflix. Both apps combine thousands of hours of international and local movies and TV shows. As a result, Kwese Play users get to enjoy the best of both worlds .
Econet’s whole ownership of iflix in Africa and its deal as Netflix’s official partner in Africa looks like a winning strategy. At the moment, the video streaming market in Africa is largely untapped. If harnessed properly, the media company could become the leader of video streaming services in Africa.