Kwesé Play has launched in South Africa and announced that it is the official partner for Roku and Netflix in Africa.
The company is run by Econet Media, a subsidiary of the company which owns Liquid Telecom.
Its partnership with Roku allowed Kwesé to develop a custom media box for its service, which includes approval from ICASA.
The Kwesé Play media box is available for R1,599 from tech retailers, and supports 720p and 1080p HD video streaming through an HDMI port.
It also has a built-in player that can play media via a USB port.
Kwesé’s Roku player also supports Wi-Fi, has an Ethernet port, and a microSD card slot.
The company said that while the media box is a Roku, not all apps on the Roku platform will be available on Kwesé Play at launch.
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.
“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.
While many channels were already available through content delivery networks with nodes in South Africa, there are still many more that are not locally mirrored.
Kwesé has worked to bring those channels onto its network, said Solovei.
He explained that they can host content on several nodes on Liquid Telecom’s network across the continent, including its data centres in South Africa – which it acquired from Neotel.
They also peer at NAPAfrica in Teraco’s data centres, giving them access to content hosted there.
As Kwesé Play adds more channels to its platform, the aim is to ensure they deliver content from data centres close to subscribers.
Kwesé has also partnered with Netflix for its launch, which it said is a first for Africa.
Under its agreement, Kwesé can bill customers on behalf of Netflix in local currency and will be able to use Netflix’s brand to market Kwesé Play.
Chris Whiteley, the head of business development for EMEA at Netflix, told MyBroadband the partnership will enable new methods of payment to subscribers in South Africa.
Kwesé’s billing integration will let clients add their Netflix subscriptions to their bill with their operator, and pay for the service in rand.
Solovei told MyBroadband that their Netflix prices were set when negotiations with Netflix started at the end of 2015 – when the rand was weak.
Kwesé is working on reducing its Netflix prices to bring them in line with their US dollar equivalent. The company also plans to launch across Africa in the coming months, said Solovei.
Pricing for Netflix subscriptions purchased through Kwesé are summarised in the table below.
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