Mayur Patel, currently senior vice president of Africa’s Kwese Mobile Experience, will be named CEO of a joint venture between Kwese and iflix Africa, the regional offshoot of Asia-based streaming service iflix, Variety has learned. The announcement will be made next week.
Patel’s appointment comes at a time of widespread turnover at iflix Africa, a turnover that began in late 2017 as fast-growing iflix continued its aggressive expansion into developing markets to get a jump on players such as Netflix and Amazon. “Most of the management team was dissolved” at one office, one former iflix Africa exec said. “Things weren’t defined. They didn’t know exactly what they wanted. There was a lot of inconsistencies about what we hoped to achieve.”
Kwese, a subsidiary of Econet Media, has emerged as one of Africa’s biggest players since its launch last year, pairing its pay-TV operations with an aggressive mobile strategy while inking deals with the likes of ESPN and Vice.
It also has a partnership with iflix, and announced Wednesday that it had upped its stakes in iflix Africa, with Econet Media CEO Joe Hundah telling Variety the companies would “combine our operations and ultimately offer one app containing both iflix [and Kwese] content.”
“This creates a much stronger proposition and makes sense,” said Hundah (pictured).
Since launching in Malaysia in 2015, iflix has rolled out services in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, positioning itself as an alternative to Netflix in emerging markets. With its launch in sub-Saharan Africa last June, iflix signaled its intent to capitalize on the continent’s youth population and fast-growing Internet and smartphone penetration.
Andre de Wit, then-iflix’s Africa chief, said of the launch: “We are passionately focused on providing the broadest selection of premium content at a price everyone can afford. We can’t wait to tackle both the enormous opportunities and challenges ahead in serving this incredibly diverse and exciting region.”
De Wit left the company in November.