Econet Media is giving DSTV a run for its money, as it has signed a deal with the English Premier League to show premier league matches for free.

Yesterday, the Premier League announced that Econet Media, owned by Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean tycoon, struck a deal valid for the 2016/17 and 2018/19 seasons.

“The Premier League is pleased to announce that Econet Media has acquired the package of free-to-air broadcasting rights that it makes available in sub-Saharan Africa,” Premier League said in a statement.

It added that: “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.

“The matches, along with weekly preview and review shows, will be available in 50 countries across the region.”
Speaking on Kwese and the Econet media deal, Masiyiwa, who is also Zimbabwe’s richest man, according to The Cable, said: “Kwesé TV is our new soon-to-be-launched satellite and broadcasting network, wholly owned by Econet Media, a subsidiary of Econet Group.

“After the launch of Kwesé TV later this year, I’ll also use this as a case study on how to set up a major business venture like this one.

“Timing is important in business. Notice that I didn’t shout out, ‘hey guys, I’m bidding for the English Premier League.’ Do it first, before you start talking about it!”

Richard Scudamore, Premier League Executive Chairman, expressed his pleasure at the deal, saying: “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.”

Kwese has already acquired rights to show matches in Spain’s Copa del Rey, cricket, and rugby from other parts of the world.

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,” he said.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the Premier League’s fastest-growing audiences, with an estimated 276 million viewers tuning in each year.