American sports broadcaster ESPN is ending its termination of service to Africa early next year after entering a broadcast rights agreement with Econet Media’s Kwesé Sport.
ESPN pulled their ESPN and ESPN Classic channels from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East three years ago.
ESPN, which is owned by Disney, made the decision to cease broadcasting ESPN and ESPN Classic (that were exclusively on DStv) in Africa as a result of a business decision to yank the channel in all non-US territories where their operations were no longer financially viable.
But Econet has managed to pull them back in, and with it, SoccerNet, SportsCenter and an array of American sports.
Econet announced the deal in a news release, on Thursday, saying it will deliver the most comprehensive sports coverage in Africa, offering a wide range of sports and thousands of hours of programming.
“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 multiplatform distribution capability will deliver the content to viewers through TV and digital platforms making it accessible to sports fans wherever they are,” reads a statement.
The deal comes into effect in early 2017 with the launch of an ESPN channel in 19 countries, which is exclusive to Kwesé. ESPN will also produce daily SportsCenter updates for Africa, bringing the iconic sports news and highlights brand to the channel.
Joseph Hundah, chief executive of Econet Media, said ESPN and Kwesé will also launch an African edition of the ESPN website and mobile app.
The new KweseESPN.com, and its accompanying app, is expected to combine ESPN’s coverage of global sports and offer world-class digital platform with local African sports news, analysis and perspectives from Kwesé.
The Econet-ESPN agreement Kwesé ads NCAA American football and basketball to its existing broadcast rights for the NFL, NHL and the NBA, making it the home of American sports in Africa.
In addition to the original SportsCenter programming of soccer, American football, NBA, boxing, X Games and Special Olympics, the agreement will include ESPN films and documentaries.
Kwesé also features coverage of English Premier League, Formula One, international Cricket, Aviva Premiership Rugby, Spanish Copa Del Rey, Brazilian football, among others.