KWESE vs DSTV :WHAT NEW SUBSCRIBER SHOULD KNOW BEFORE MAKING THE SWITCH | Last week’s decision by Zimbabwe’s High Court to give Kwese the go ahead to commence its operations in Zimbabwe served not only as formal announcement of the entry of a new player on the scene, but also a notice to the well established dominant player, DStv.
The future of Kwese is not yet secure however, after the Broadcast Authority of Zimbabwe challenged the courts’ decision to decide the fate of the new baby to the world of digital satellite broadcasting.
While Kwese fights for its broadcasting life in the country’s courts of law, some will be wondering whether this new kid on the block has what it takes to go toe to toe with a broadcast titan that has towered in most parts of the continent for over two decades.
Since Zimbabweans were introduced to the joys of subscription TV services, DStv has been, for the most part, the only game in town. Multichoice’s crown jewel has managed to open a huge gap between itself and any competitors that threw their hat into the fray since Sub-Saharan Africa’s flagship digital satellite television service was established in 1995.
A few challengers have tried and failed, sometimes valiantly but mostly dismally, to dislodge the Naspers-owned broadcast giant.
As Kwese enters the field, it is clear that the battle will be won by the broadcaster that comes up with the most attractive package in economically tough times. As things stand, DStv is sitting pretty on the throne. While its subscription fees have ballooned over the past decade, increasing almost every year, the quality of its services has not diminished. Although many have welcomed the entry of Kwese as a reprieve from perceived exorbitant fees by DStv, it still offers a wide range of channels that other competitors do not come close to matching.
At the flick of a remote control button a DStv compact subscriber, which at $28 is almost equal to the singular bouquet, offered by Kwese, can have access to some of the best movie channels. In this department Kwese is not far behind, however, with channels like AMC, Viceland and Bollymovies providing a wide range of movies likely to satisfy any film buff’s tastes.
In its infancy, one can conclude that Kwese’s main target appears to be DStv’s Compact bouquet subscribers, with the price range of its services suggesting that this demographic is the key battleground where the two will lock horns.
The actuality programming provided by the channel further reinforces this point. Animal Planet, Travel Channel and Discovery Science offer a nice counter to channels like National Geographic Wild and Fashion TV.
For the children, Kwese still packs a punch, with acclaimed animation channels Toonami and DreamWorks channel likely to prove a potent one or two punches that might hit DStv’s subscription numbers in the guts in the long run.
However, what might prove to be Kwese’s Achilles Heel not only in Zimbabwe but elsewhere around the continent, is the DStv’s stranglehold on soccer rights, particularly its firm grip on the lucrative English Premier League (EPL).
Compact subscribers in Zimbabwe have access to two 24-hour channels that showcase both the EPL and La Liga while in comparison Kwese is poorer in this department, as it is only able to show the match of the day at 5pm every Saturday.
Earlier this year, Multichoice East Africa was subject to an investigation by the Competition Authority of Kenya over concerns raised about its monopoly in airing the English Premier League, which was shutting out other competitors.
A report to the competition watchdog in November last year suggested exclusive EPL broadcast rights have put it ahead of payTV competitors where sports, especially the popular EPL, is viewed as a major driver for payTV subscriptions.
While Kwese has exclusive rights to the NBA, it will continue to lag behind its well established counterpart as basketball is a far less popular sport in a soccer-mad continent.