Netflix and Kwesé recently announced their partnership for South Africa, and launched a customised Roku player in the country.
Called Kwesé Play, the service and media player offer access to 100 Roku channels at launch – including Netflix, YouTube, and Red Bull TV.
The Kwesé Play box is on sale at a recommended retail price of R1,599, and comes with three months of free Netflix.
We took Kwesé Play for a spin, and it made an excellent first impression.
The Roku box contains everything you need to get started, including an HDMI cable, and setup was a breeze.
The Roku’s interface was responsive, and at no point did we struggle to move the cursor around the screen when we needed to type or navigate.
When you initially configure the Kwesé Play, you go through all the usual connectivity settings and calibrations – and you are prompted to create a Kwesé account.
Once everything is up and running, the interface looks similar to the Roku default.
From the tests we conducted, we found that the Kwesé Play supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, wired Ethernet, 720p and 1080p HD video, and screen mirroring from Android devices.
Kwesé Play interface
5GHz Wi-Fi support
100 channels available
As part of the Kwesé Play launch in South Africa, not all apps on the standard Roku platform will be available initially.
Kwesé Play CEO Ryan Solovei said this was done for several reasons, including to prevent the installation of apps that enable piracy. This is a big concern for content owners, and something they had to address.
Kwesé also wants to ensure that each channel on its Roku delivers an excellent experience to customers before it expands.
“We had a list of 5,000 channels to choose from, and we narrowed it down to 100 for now. We will grow the content offering exponentially over time,” said Solovei.
Looney Toon Network
Netflix signup with Kwese Play
Overall, the Roku player from Kwesé impressed. Its software is clean and responsive, and its launch offer shows a lot of promise.
It will be interesting to see what the company has waiting in the wings, as its corporate parent Econet Media operates a significant bouquet of TV channels outside South Africa – including live sports channels.
Econet also owns a majority stake in Liquid Telecom, giving Kwesé a link to content delivery network hosting providers and telecommunications operators.
Kwesé is poised to be a solid media and entertainment competitor in South Africa, judging by its initial offering, and is set to take on the likes of Telkom and MultiChoice.