ShowMax in South Africa: this is how it works


[quote_box_center]This is how ShowMax, the Netflix competitor from Naspers, works in South Africa.[/quote_box_center]

Subscription video on demand platform ShowMax recently launched in South Africa, offering a two-tier online video streaming service with a low-priced “premium” package.

ShowMax Basic offers a selection of older TV series, including local and kids shows, for free.

ShowMax Premium costs R99 per month and gives subscribers unlimited access to the service’s library, with videos streaming in resolutions of up to 720p.

You can have up to five devices registered simultaneously to an account, and may stream to two of them at a time.

Content delivery networks

ShowMax boss John Kotsaftis said the video content is brought to users by content delivery networks, to bring content as close to customers as possible.

ShowMax uses a “clever architecture to keep performance high,” he said, explaining that they have servers all over the world, including South Africa, with caching servers in various places.

Buying and producing new TV shows and movies

Kotsaftis also spoke about the content available on the platform, particularly why all five seasons of Game of Thrones are available, but the latest season of Arrow is not.

He explained that subscription video on demand services typically buy content in its second release window.

The first window contains the latest episodes of a show, and is where pay TV platforms often license series. It is also much more expensive to buy content in its first release window.

Kotsaftis said it would become prohibitively expensive to license all the latest episodes of the shows on its platform, to the point where R99 per month “becomes a very difficult price point.”

At launch, ShowMax had around 750 different series – with 850 complete seasons and 19,000 episodes, which comes to over 11,000 hours of viewing time.

It also offers around 400 movies.

HBO and local shows give us an edge: ShowMax

ShowMax plans to release four or five series that are not on TV in South Africa, and which will be exclusive to its platform.

New episodes of some shows will also be coming to ShowMax “very very close” to their first airing on TV, said Kotsaftis.

He said they also plan to release their first original ShowMax series for the South African audience before the end of 2015.

This focus on the South African market, with third-party local content and original shows, will give them an edge over international platforms like Netflix, he said.

ShowMax will also continue to get a wide selection of shows from studios like HBO – something Netflix won’t offer.