Johannesburg – ShowMax, South Africa’s answer to Netflix, is coming to Mzansi as a new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service from Naspers.
The launch of ShowMax will be officially announced on 19 August at a media launch in Johannesburg, with the subscription service set to roll out commercially soon afterwards in the country.
It will be offering subscribers hit shows ranging from cult library series like True Blood to drama series like Ray Donovan and Vikings and comedies like The Big Bang Theory.
Although ShowMax will be competing directly with its own satellite pay-TV offering MultiChoice, which runs DStv, it is actually being established to fend off the looming competition from the global internet subscription TV service Netflix.
Netflix told Channel24 it plans to become available in South Africa before the end of 2016 if not sooner. Now Naspers with ShowMax is rushing to have a presence in what is called the over-the-top (OTT) sphere.
"See it as the new M-Net but for the internet age," a source told Channel24, in reference to when M-Net started as the first sole pay-TV channel in South Africa 29 years ago.
"ShowMax will be competition for all existing pay-TV players but its plan is to get in the game before Netflix arrives here.
"A lot of the prime content that will be on ShowMax people can already see on DStv but it will be a new way for customers to watch. Also the economic model is different – the service is more about enabling people to really go for binge-watching and things a SVOD player are better at than traditional pay-TV operators," said the source.
ShowMax will also be new competition in the growing local VOD field where the Times Media Group runs VIDI, MTN has its FrontRow service which just lowered some of its prices, MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice and Altron's flopped Altech Node decoder which it is now getting rid of.
*Channel24 is part of Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers.