Zimbabwean Media giant, Econet Media has sealed a deal with English Premier League to show premier league matches for free across 50 African countries through its new platform Kwesé Sports starting with the 2016-2017 season.
English Premier League Chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement on Wednesday announced that Econet Media, struck a deal valid for the 2016/17 and 2018/19 seasons. The agreement is for the three seasons 2016/17 to 2018/19 and Econet, through its Kwese Sports platform, will make available one Saturday afternoon Premier League match live on a free-to-air basis each weekend of the season. He said:
“We are very pleased that Econet Media has chosen to invest in the package of free-to-air broadcasting rights that we have made available in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Premier League clubs enjoy passionate support across sub-Saharan Africa and these rights are important to ensuring that as many fans as possible can follow and enjoy our competition.”
Econet owned by Strive Masiwiya, Zimbabwe’s richest man, prepares to launch Kwese TV later this year, with sport among the service’s flagship offerings. Kwese has already acquired rights to show matches in Spain’s Copa del Rey, as well as showpiece cricket and rugby events, but the Premier League deal represents another step up.
The Premier League claims a TV audience of over 4 billion from 212 territories each season, worth over $7 billion a year, and it is the world’s most popular domestic competition of the world’s most popular sport. Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the Premier League’s fastest-growing audiences, with an estimated 276 million viewers tuning in each year.
Robin Jellis, TV markets expert at Sports Business, told CNN that Kwese may have a challenge getting into the market, but it is planning to rival South African DSTV –which charges $40 to $100 – on the long term.
Econet is expected to lose money on its Premier League deal, but it is a strategic move to build an association with the league ahead of launching Kwesé TV, Jellis says.