Huge news for the sports world: Walt Disney’s ESPN is officially launching in Africa. (Well technically it’s relaunching—ESPN previously had an ESPN and ESPN Classic channel in Africa, but they were closed in 2013.)
The network will soon be available in 19 countries across the continent as part of a game-changing, pan-African partnership with Kwesé, the sports subsidiary of African telecom and pay TV operator Econet.
The deal was announced on Tuesday.
Financial specifics were not disclosed, but the partners vowed to “deliver the most comprehensive sports coverage in Africa, offering a wide range of sports and thousands of hours of programming.”
The deal will take effect in early 2017 with the launch of an ESPN channel in 19 countries. The channel will be exclusive to Kwesé.
ESPN will also produce daily SportsCenter updates for Africa.
Together, ESPN and Kwesé are planning to launch an African edition of the ESPN website and mobile app by mid-2017. KweseESPN.com will combine ESPN’s coverage of global sports with local African sports coverage from Kwesé.
“African audiences will benefit from industry-leading content from the world’s leading sports media company in ESPN, in conjunction with Kwese’s premium sports offering, while Kwese’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,” a statement read.
“This long-term collaboration across television and digital media will…serve millions of sports fans across Africa with exceptional products, content and coverage,” said ESPN International’s executive vp and managing director, Russell Wolff. “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.”
Econet Media CEO Joseph Hundah added: “Ultimately our goals are the same, to bring fans the best in global sports. The synergies between Kwese 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.”