Walt Disney’s ESPN has agreed on a content deal with Kwesé Sports, the sports network arm of African telco and pay-TV operator Econet.
Rapid TV News reported that from 2017, the sports network will be available via Kwesé in 19 countries in Africa, with ESPN also producing the daily sports news update SportsCenter for local viewers. By the middle of next year, ESPN and Kwesé will launch an African version of the ESPN website and mobile app. The new KweseESPN.com and accompanying app will combine ESPN’s global sports with African sports coverage from Kwesé.
ESPN and Econet said together they will “deliver the most comprehensive sports coverage in Africa, offering a wide range of sports and thousands of hours of programming.”
They added: “African audiences will benefit from industry-leading content from the world’s leading sports media company in ESPN, in conjunction with Kwesé’s premium sports offering, while Kwesé’s pan-African reach and its TV everywhere multi-platform distribution capability will deliver the content to viewers through TV and digital platforms making it accessible to sports fans wherever they are.”
Following the content deal, Kwesé will add NCAA American football and basketball to its existing TV rights for American sports, which include the NFL, NHL and the NBA.
“This long-term collaboration across television and digital media will...serve millions of sports fans across Africa with exceptional products, content and coverage,” said Russell Wolff, executive VP and managing director, ESPN International. “We are very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as we bring ESPN’s great content, including SportsCenter, and decades of experience in sports media together with one of Africa’s most dynamic and vibrant companies.”
Joseph Hundah, CEO, Econet Media, added: “Ultimately our goals are the same, to bring fans the best in global sports. The synergies between Kwesé and ESPN allow us to achieve that goal by leveraging our collective ability to deliver premium African and global sports programming to sports fans across Africa.”
The deal is seen as part of ESPN’s strategy to raise its international operations through local partnerships. The US network has also sealed regional deals with Sony Pictures Networks in India, Tencent in China and BT Sport in the UK.