RIP Kwese Play

Kwesé Play has announced that it will be entering liquidation.

“It is with deep regret that we are today announcing the liquidation of Kwesé Play,” said Econet in a statement.

“A few weeks ago, Roku, our technology platform partners, deactivated all the Kwesé Play devices in our markets and customers have been unable to use them to watch Netflix, YouTube and other apps on their TVs.”

“We’ve spent considerable time negotiating with Roku in order to reactivate the devices, but have unfortunately been unsuccessful. This means that the Kwesé Play devices will remain deactivated and will no longer work.”

Initial shut down

Kwesé Play launched in South Africa in September 2017 after Econet Media penned agreements with both Roku and Netflix to be their official African partners.

As part of this agreement, Roku built a customised media player for Kwesé Play.

On 3 July 2019, however, Roku devices that offered Kwesé Play to South African subscribers stopped working, and displayed the following message:

“Econet no longer offers Kwesé Play. For more information contact Econet.”

Later that evening, Econet sent its subscribers an email which said that Roku had unexpectedly terminated the Kwesé Play service amid negotiations between the two parties.

The email said the following:

Econet Media, has noted that today customers received a notification on their devices that they have been deactivated.

Kwesé Play service was launched in partnership with Roku, a US-based OTT streaming platform. We have been in discussions with Roku regarding the viability of the Kwesé Play service.

The closure of the service and the message relayed on the device this morning was unexpected and comes at a time when we are engaged in discussions with Roku about their future plans on Africa.

We apologise for the inconvenience and are working on resolving this. Detailed communication will be provided to all customers in due course.

Roku released its own statement at the time that claimed Econet was shutting down the Kwesé Play service completely:

Econet licensed our platform to deliver the Kwesé Play streaming service to its customers. Econet is shutting down the Kwesé Play service and is no longer working with Roku. For more information contact Kwesé/Econet.

Failed attempt at business rescue

A Business Day report previously said that Econet Media had placed its satellite broadcasting business under administration.

CEO Joseph Hundah told the publication that Econet Media planned on entering into talks with its creditors in an attempt to rescue its satellite business, as the business was too small to deal with the financial burdens it was facing.

However, it appears that any efforts to fix this business were unsuccessful.

When MyBroadband asked Econet if customers who currently own these devices will receive any form of compensation, a spokesperson said that any further announcements will be subject to the liquidation process.

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RIP Kwese Play