ShowMax ups the ante for video on demand in South Africa

August 21st, 2015
This week, Naspers launched its video on demand service, ShowMax, which it says represents a step-change in the range of video entertainment content available to consumers in South Africa.

Media group Naspers this week launched a new video on demand service called ShowMax, which it says is a giant leap forward in the range of content available to local consumers. The service ups the ante for similar services in South Africa, coming in at the lowest local price yet.

It also appears to be a bold gambit to pre-empt the arrival of foreign services like Netflix, a global player that is due to enter South Africa by the end of 2016. Naspers also owns satellite pay-TV service DStv, which was expected to lose many subscribers to Netflix. By launching its own competing service, it is likely to win back the business of many potentially departing DStv subscribers.

A key factor in the move is probably the knowledge that DStv has a captive audience of sports fans, thanks to its dominance of live sports broadcasting in South Africa. None of the video on demand services will be able to provide significant live sports.

At launch, ShowMax has content that is says adds up to more than a year’s continuous viewing of series, movies, documentaries, a wide selection of children’s shows, and an array of classics. Complete sets of heavyweight series such as Entourage, Game of Thrones, and The Wire form the foundation of the service. ShowMax will also bring new shows like “The Late Late Show with James Corden” to the South African audience.

The content catalogue, which totals more than 10,000 hours, spans major production studios from across the globe as well as local African content. This brings ShowMax customers two  benefits: a library many multiples larger than those currently available via local services, and also African content not available via services originating outside the continent.

ShowMax is available via a wide range of smart devices with an Internet connection. This includes mobile phones and tablets via iOS and Android apps, laptop and desktop computers using a range of web browsers, and Samsung and LG smart TVs.

“We’re unashamedly ambitious in what we’re aiming to achieve with ShowMax,” said John Kotsaftis, General Manager of ShowMax South Africa. “The ongoing change in viewing habits has given us the opportunity to build a video on demand powerhouse to feed the marathon viewing trend. We’ve got all the best content from Hollywood and beyond, but at the same time we also have the local content that consumers here expect. Importantly, we’re bringing this in at an attractive price, and doing this across more devices than ever before.”

ShowMax is offering a seven-day trial period, with free access to the entire library in order to test the service. The ongoing cost of subscription is R99 per month, which allows access via five different devices. Two different video streams may be watched simultaneously on separate devices using the single monthly subscription.

This compares to equivalent services from Times Media Limited’s VIDI, at R149 a month for an unlimited service, and MTN’s FrontRow, which dramatically slashed its subscription fee from R179 to R119 a month ahead of the launch of ShowMax. Pricing appears to give the latter an edge over both local and international rivals – the equivalent service from global player Netflix currently costs from R120 ($9 per month) for those who are able to unblock its regional bars. The price excludes the cost of unblocking services.

“We’re aiming to change the game,” says Kotsaftis. “ShowMax won’t just be the best subscription video on demand service available in South Africa – we’re competing with the best in the world.”

For more information, visit www.showmax.com.

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