The 2018 FIFA World Cup is upon us. It’s been coming all along and those of us who are hard core football fans cannot wait for the action to kick off in Russia. Unfortunately for most of us, we are not in any position to make it to Russia. Thanks to advancements in technology, however, Russia will be coming to our living rooms at home and, since it’s 2018, Russia will be anywhere there’s a mobile data signal because… mobile.
Sure, streaming sports online is something that some of us do on almost weekly basis but there are usually some hiccups.
First there’s the big debate about the legality of some of the means we use to get to watch matches live (hint: they’re mostly illegal streams) and, secondly, there’s the small matter of the consistency of the quality of those streams. Some buffer for hours on end. It’s never a good thing to hear your neighbours celebrating a goal while the person taking the corner kick that supposedly leads to the goal is not anywhere on sight on your television.
This is why I usually welcome any chance to be able to view a consistent stream on platforms like, say, Facebook (Live), YouTube, etc. The only problem with these, as seen in the recent UEFA Champions League final whereby UK sports broadcaster BT Sport was airing it live through its website and YouTube channel, is the usual content geo-restriction meaning that a process that ought to be as straight-forward as possible ends up being a tad too complex for the average user when they need to invoke the help of a VPN app.
For the upcoming football bonanza, it looks like I (and, I believe many other football-loving Kenyans) won’t have to worry about where to watch the tournament online.
Why online? Well, to be honest, 64 matches are quite a lot and because of the timing of some of them, you can be sure that some fixtures will find you far away from home so at that point it will matter less whatever kind of subscription or home entertainment equipment you have invested in back in your house. You’ll need to go online…
And that is where it gets exciting because on top of all the options that are currently available, and will likely become available as the World Cup draws closer (there’s just a week left), there’s one from a trusted brand, Safaricom, and a player that is heavily invested in the sporting industry, Econet Media’s Kwesé.
Kwesé entered the Kenyan market in 2016 with a free-to-air TV channel that has become popular across the country for airing live Premier League matches.
Last year, Kwesé launched Kwesé TV, a pay TV platform meant to challenge market leader Multichoice’s DSTv. Now, it so happens that Kwesé has a partnership with Malaysia-based subscription video on demand service iflix. iflix launched in Kenya last year.
Kwesé owns a stake in iflix Africa, something that has seen the two brands band together to provide their respective subscribers the best of both worlds in an arrangement that has seen Kwesé subscribers able to access online content through iflix while iflix, which is relatively new to the continent gets a familiar shoulder to carry it across the continent something akin to what Multichoice has been doing with DSTv and Showmax premium. The end result has been Kwesé iflix.
It is this Kwesé iflix that will be bringing the World Cup to millions of Safaricom subscribers across the country starting on June 14th.
This will be possible through new data bundles dubbed Giga Football Passes.
For the Kshs 99 that currently gets you a 1GB “Giga” data bundle on Safaricom for use in a day, one will be able to get a full day (unlimited, of course) of live World Cup footballing action as well as access to iflix’s premium video content.
Since Kwesé prides itself for offering a “pay-as-you-watch” subscription model, there will be another bundle that lets users tune in to live World Cup action for a full 3 hours for just Kshs 20. Yes, that’s right, 20 bob. You know, just in case you are interested in just one match or have only time for one game… You won’t have to pay for everything else that you don’t need.
All this sounds juicy and all but what if you’re already an iflix subscriber who has access to a whole tonne of flicks but are wondering where you lie in this World Cup 2018 equation? Well, you will just pay Kshs 50 per day to be able to stream live World Cup matches without any limitations.
Come June 14th, one will only need to dial *544# on their smartphone in order to activate any of the above-stated bundles.
Since Giga Football Passes are also applicable to the Safaricom Digital TV and Internet Box (both generations), *400# will apply in that case. The procedure should be the same as that highlighted here.
Live streaming of the World Cup games will be through the iflix app that can be found on the Google Play Store for smartphone users and on the same store for Safaricom Big Box users, even though it comes pre-installed on the latter device.
The fine print
This is one of those rare moments that Safaricom is offering “unlimited” data so there must be a catch, right? Yes, there is.
Here’s the catch: the stream quality will be capped at 480p. Yeah, I know but I already mostly do this more so when I am being wary that YouTube will just guzzle all my data so, no surprises for me. Plus, anyway, it’s the standard resolution for us who’ve relied on Mobdro for so long. Also, the stream speed will be capped at 600kbps… Fair usage policy.
Safaricom is banking on having the widest broadband network coverage in the country to be able to deliver quality streams to its customers during the World Cup period, something that most, if not all, of its competitors struggle to match. There’s an entire discussion on 24Bit on this coming in a few weeks that you should look forward to.
Both iflix and Kwesé already had separate arrangements with Safaricom previously.
iflix had partnered with Safaricom to ensure speedy access of its content to Safaricom subscribers as well as offering them a free trial period of up to two months.
Kwesé, on the other hand, had roped in Safaricom to aid it in distribution of its video content through specific video-centred data bundles.