Zimbabwe telecom and media group, Econet has received government licencing for content distribution, web casting and Video-on-Demand (VoD) services in the country under its Econet Media unit. Econet Media incorporates Kwesé TV, the pay television service that competes directly with MultiChoice Zimbabwe.
Econet and the government fought running battles in Zimbabwean courts over licencing for Kwesé TV, with the service at one point being taken off air. The government argued that Econet did not have a proper licence while the company said it was utilising a licence held by local satellite television company Dr Dish, a relationship it subsequently terminated.
Following the termination, Econet applied for broadcasting licences from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. On Thursday, the Strive Masiyiwa-founded firm said it had secured the licences for broadcasting services in the country.
“Take notice that Econet Media has been awarded a Broadcasting Service Licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 10 of the Broadcasting Services Act,” it said. It further stated that the licences it had secured were for “Video on Demand, Web casting and Content Distribution” within Zimbabwe.
Dataxis says the African pay television market will face growing competition and disruption from OTT offerings that are expected to ride on broadband rollout projects in most markets on the continent. Econet also controls Liquid Telecom, a broadband internet service provider. “An increased broadband penetration combined with a rise in connected devices could entail the development and success of OTT offers. In Sub Saharan Africa, OTT Linear TV is foreseen to remain nascent in the upcoming years while ad supported options should benefit from an improved connectivity,” said Sa Eva Nebie, research analyst at Dataxis.
Dataxis says The Sub-Saharan Africa TV market recorded strong growth in 2017, driven by the increasing appeal of pay television in homes across the region. Revenues in the TV industry across Africa reached US$4.3 billion in 2017. Econet is hoping to claw its mark in the regional market and get a share of the expected growth in the industry – although experts say greater competition will come from new OTT services.
South Africa is “maintaining its remarkable weight in the TV market alongside a significant development gap with other regional countries,” added Dataxis.