Johannesburg and London, 08 March 2017: Econet Media’s Kwesé Sports and ESPN today launched the exclusive ESPN channel on the Kwesé TV bouquet. This collaboration with Africa’s emerging home of premium sports marks the much anticipated return of ESPN to the African continent. The channel comes after the announcement of the game-changing long-term agreement between the two sports broadcasting powerhouses which confirmed Kwesé Sports as the home of ESPN in Africa.
The channel will deliver the most comprehensive sports coverage on the continent bringing the best in sports to African fans through live coverage of events from across the globe. Along with live sports, the channel introduces unique original programming including an African edition of the popular SportsCenter programme, an iconic and hugely popular show with fans across the world. Hosted by ESPN’s Philip Murphy, SportsCenter will cover the latest in sports news, highlights and updates in its signature fast-paced format, which has made it one of the most loved and awarded shows in television.
Since it launched in 2016, Kwesé Sports has continued to shake up the sports broadcasting industry with its unique offering that already boasts an impressive line-up which includes some of the best in American sports, including the NFL, NHL and the NBA. Through this collaboration with the global leader in sports media, Kwesé will exclusively bring thousands of hours of programming to audiences in 19 countries across sub-Saharan Africa.
The channel aims to be the first choice for fans wanting the latest news and updates and promises a diverse programming schedule designed to appeal to even the most discerning sports fan. The exciting launch programming for March includes; March Madness which tips off on the 15th, X Games action live from Norway, Indy Car 2017 and AFL.
In addition to launching the ESPN channel, Kwesé and ESPN will launch an African edition of the ESPN website and mobile app later this year. Leveraging ESPN’s position as the world’s leading digital sports brand and Kwesé’s pan-African reach and TV everywhere multiplatform distribution, these digital destinations will keep sports fans up-to-date with access to news, scores, features, video, live games and matches wherever they are — putting the best in international sports in their pocket! KweseESPN.com and the new KweseESPN app, coupled with the Kwesé TV Everywhere App, will give its viewers 24/7 access to all the latest in sports from across the globe in a way that has never existed for African sports fans.
Commenting on the launch, President and CEO of Econet Media Joseph Hundah said “This is a real game changer. In ESPN we have a collaborator that enhances our offering to our viewers. We have always aimed to deliver premium sports programming and we continue to bring the best to our sports fans, through our acquisitions of top-shelf sports rights and our investment in our platforms and in how we deliver our programming whether through Pay-TV, Free-to-air or digital mobile platforms. The launch of this channel is significant as it cements our place as a leading provider of sports programming in Africa”.
Added Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International, “We are thrilled to be working with a fellow innovator like Econet to bring ESPN and SportsCenter back to television screens in Africa and expanding the Kwesé and ESPN digital connection with fans. This launch is just the beginning of how these two great companies will serve fans in Africa.”
African viewers can look forward to thousands of hours of ESPN content which will be licensed to Kwesé. Including both live sports and award-winning original programming, the content will appear across the ESPN and Kwesé Sport channels.
Post launch programming schedule for March includes exclusive broadcast of:
- March Madness – With the regular season out of the way 68 teams will bid to be crowned NCAA Basketball Champions. Starting 15 March, the month of March will see teams whittled down through the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final 4 until a Championship which will be broadcast on April 4!
- X Games – Norway: The event takes place in Lillehammer, Norway and features some of the greatest freestyle skiers and snowboarders of our time. The world class action sports action and commentary showcases the skills of many of the world’s top winter sports athletes in front of huge crowds, creating a fantastic viewing experience.
- Indy Car 2017: The Grand Prix of St Petersburg is the first of 17 stops on this year’s IndyCar Calendar. Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will be out to defend his driver’s championship, as they tackle the street circuit on March 12.
- AFL: Thanks to ESPN, Aussie Rules football is back with a bang as the season opens on March 23rd with matches taking place in iconic venues like the MCG in Melbourne. Eighteen teams go in pursuit of a place in the Grand Final and the chance to take home the title on September 30.
- Original Programming: In addition to the original SportsCenter programme, the channel will include award-winning ESPN Films 30 For 30 documentaries, and a range of additional studio programming such as ESPN FC, Pardon The Interruption, Around The Horn, College Gameday and more. Kwesé also already licenses NFL-related programming – including NFL Live, NFL Countdown and more – from ESPN, as part of a TV rights deal with the NFL, brokered by ESPN Media Distribution.
Kwesé also features coverage of the Premier League, Formula One, Cricket Australia, Aviva Premiership Rugby, The Spanish Copa Del Rey, Brazilian football, Extreme Fighting Championship and so much more.