People were so excited about Kwese TV when word about its coming got out. In fact, Strive Masiyiwa first mentioned about Kwese plans sometime in 2015. The service was unique in that it promised to provide an alternative to Dstv by also leveraging on its being a home-grown service. It was initially met with so much excitement and that was evidenced by the so many people who quickly got connected. No one would have ever thought that barely 18 months after its launch it would be in the deep end. Beginning of November last year, Kwese TV officially called it quits. This effectively left Kwese TV users with the option of at least watching free channels that are accessible using any set of satellite TV connectivity equipment. So, what went wrong or what lessons can we learn from the short-lived Kwese TV?
Poor Timing And Value Proposition
This I am saying in relation to the local state of the economy. Later on, I will talk about anticipating evil which is somewhat connected to this. Timing is a huge part of the success of a new product. I believe Kwese TV was launched at the wrong time because the operating environment was already showing signs of serious instability. Had they waited a bit longer they could have empirically realized it is not yet time to launch this service. The other thing is that Kwese was airing content that many did not like or value. For instance, basketball does not appeal to that many people locally. Even for those who do love to watch it most of the times the games aired were at odd hours due to time zone differences.
Carefully Consider Your Pricing Approaches
Kwese TV did two major mistakes in this regard. The first one was that their entry pricing was so high that most people shunned the service from the onset. This would, later on, be compounded by poor service delivery – especially with respect to poor content. The second one is that Kwese TV did offer the option to subscribe using the local surrogate currency. While this was a welcome move by their local subscribers it was fatal to their operating capacity. It is no wonder why they ended up failing to provide good relevant content because they could not afford (i.e. licensing) it since it required foreign currency.
As an individual and especially in business learn to anticipate evil. A shrewd business person must have a keen ability to project into the future to anticipate possible unfavourable circumstances. This then must be followed by the necessary preparedness to avert such circumstances or to withstand them. Had Kwese projected into the future by considering possible hurdles, they would have done better. Poor pricing and poor timing led to poor programming that in turn led to dissatisfied subscribers.
Competition Can Bury You
It seems Kwese did not carefully assess the implications of competing with Dstv. In business, you must always take time to check out your competition and be brutally honest with yourself. I think from the onset it was never going to be prudent to enter a space already dominated by Dstv. Most people actually got connected to Kwese whilst still subscribing to Dstv. To me, it seems as if people were giving Kwese TV a chance to prove that they can do better than Dstv but they failed dismally. In business never underestimate your competition or overestimate your product thinking it will automatically eclipse the existing established players. At times it is wise to frankly concede that the competition is too intense and maybe it is not yet time to launch or I must rethink my value proposition. We are almost seeing a repetition of this same mistake with the Sasai mobile app. So far it has not gained any promising momentum given that WhatsApp is a giant competitor and that is coupled with expensive data.
Fulfil Your Promises
The initial promises were that Kwese TV would be a package of sporting and entertainment content with the overall target market being the African continent. There are several promises Kwese made but never fulfilled and that led to the waning of customer loyalty. There are certain popular soccer leagues that they promised to air but never did in the end. They had also promised to offer more channels as they went on but they did not fulfil the promise. Though most of this stemmed from their ailing financials due to various reasons it still does not justify failure to fulfil promises and commitments made to customers.
Kwese Play, Kwese Free Sports and Kwese Iflix are still available for those interested but the cost of data nowadays is a huge impediment for some of these. These services are pursuant to their vision to now establish their place in the digital space. This is something I think they should have tried from the beginning and they would have slowly transitioned or diversified into satellite TV later. It is actually reported that Kwese TV has debts that are beyond US$100 million dollars. So take a cue from the story of Kwese TV to know which things you must do or not do to ensure your business succeeds.