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Netflix vs ShowMax: The showdown

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TV, in South Africa, is not quite dead yet. But it’s certainly headed that way thanks to the rise of on- demand video streaming services.

Netflix Versus ShowMax

Being the top two ‘paid TV’ options in South Africa, we put together a summary of the pros and cons of both Netflix and ShowMax.

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The Top Four Streaming Sites in South Africa

There are quite a few video streaming services available locally. They do not, however, have the same breadth of content as their international counterparts. The local scene is dominated by the big names in the industry.

1. Google Play Movies

Google’s video on demand (VoD) service is preloaded onto pretty much every Android device currently available. This makes it accessible to a vast majority of mobile users.

The app requires you to create an account in order to use the service. If you’re an Android user, however, then it will associate the account with your Android login details (which are used for all Google services on an Android device).

The app opens on the “Watch Now” section and shows Top Selling Movies and New Releases amongst other categories.

Watching something is as simple as selecting whether you’d like to rent or purchase the movie and then downloading it to your device, or streaming it on a compatible device.

Rentals can be done in either SD or HD. HD titles only play on certain devices though.

The South African version of the app is, unfortunately, still very limited in terms of content. But there are quite a few recently-released titles available for rent or purchase.

The app is available on Android and iOS.

App cost: Free.

2. iTunes

If you’re a Mac or iOS user, then you know all about iTunes. Yes, it is available on Windows PCs, but the experience isn’t the same.

iTunes is most well-known for having revolutionised the music industry. Yet, beyond it being a great place to buy music, it also has movies and TV shows.

If you’re using the South African iTunes store then, unfortunately, you won’t be able to purchase or rent any TV shows, but you will be able to get movies.

Movies can either be purchased or rented in SD or HD and then watched on compatible devices. The number of devices that you can watch the movie on varies between titles and is dependant on licensing agreements between Apple and the content provider. This same rule applies to which content can be rented and/or purchased (not all titles can be rented, most can only be purchased).

The selection is bigger than that found on Google Play Movies but is still limited when compared to international versions of the service.

Compatible with Mac and iOS as well as Windows PCs.

App cost: Free.

3. Netflix

Netflix is the global leader in video on demand streaming and when the service launched in South Africa in January 2016, many people rejoiced.

As is the case with pretty much every video streaming service in South Africa, content is limited and the much coveted Netflix Originals range of series is not available locally.

Netflix also does not allow downloading, which means that whenever you want to watch something, you’ll need to be connected to the internet.

Netflix is available on a wide range of devices from set top boxes to smart TVs, tablets, laptops and smartphones.

Cost: ranges from R111 p/m to R167 p/m ($7.99 p/m to $11.99 p/m)

4. ShowMax

ShowMax launched in South Africa before Netflix reached our shores, which has clearly worked out for them. The service is the overwhelming favourite of many South African video on demand aficionados.

The service has both movies and TV series and allows you to stream and/or download content. This means you can still watch your favourite shows when you don’t have an internet connection (definitely handy on planes).

It doesn’t have exactly the same titles as Netflix, but it is continuously growing its offerings.

Available on multiple devices including smartphones, select smart TVs and PCs / Macs.

Cost : R99 p/m

* Source: CompareGuru

Arts and Entertainment

VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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Arts and Entertainment

Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, announce big streaming deals

Cell C, Vodacom and MTN have all announced new data offerings designed to increase use of social media and streaming services on their networks.

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Cell C, Vodacom and MTN have all announced new data offerings designed to increase use of social media and streaming services on their networks.

Cell C has announced that, for the next three months, it will offer all customers free streaming on black, SA’s newest video-on-demand platform. Cell C customers can stream series, movies, music, kids’ entertainment, sport, news, and live TV channels on their mobile devices without being.

“We know the biggest hurdle to gaining access to streaming content is the data component, and so for the next three months, any existing or new black customer that is also on the Cell C network will not have to have data to be able to download or stream their shows,” says Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.

Any Cell C customer, whether prepaid or contract, will have access to this promotion, which kicks off on 7 May and will run until Friday, 10 August. There is no opt in required. In other words, browsing the black platform has also been zero rated, so customers looking around to see what is available will also not be charged for data if they are on Cell C. However, clicking through to the betting platform and the ticketing service will be charged according to the customer’s data plan. National data roaming is also not included in this promotion. so black customers that are on other networks will not benefit from the free data promotion.

“Our promise to our customer is the affordability and flexibility to pay what you want; for what you want; however long you want. Go on, sign up for the 7-day free trial, and start binge-ing with black,” says black Chief Executive, Surie Ramasary.

Customers can watch blockbuster movies like Star Wars: The Last Jedi; kids’ animated movie Ferdinand; and the comedy-remake, Jumanji, starring Dwayne Johnson. black series include the multiple award winning show The Fixer, starring Kerry Washington.

With flexible packages from R25 per movie rental or R5 per day for a whole day streaming a football club channel, customers have a range of options.

For more information on how to sign up for black and take advantage of this promotion, visit www.black.co.za or www.cellc.co.za.


MTN goes social

MTN has introduced a range of social bundles starting from R1 a day.  The bundles give new and existing customers affordable access to four social media platforms, namely WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Customers can use the social bundle data allocation without affecting their regular in-bundle data. The bundles cover daily, weekly and monthly expiry rates, allowing customers to choose bundles best suited for their specific usage needs and their budgets.

“There’s been a marked increase in the consumption of social media and data services, so these social bundles are designed to meet those changing customer needs,” says Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs: MTN South Africa. “By offering a variety of expiry periods, we put the control in the hands of our customers, so they can choose to buy just for the day or to stay connected for a week or a month.”

Moderate users can stay in touch with family and friends via WhatsApp for as little as R1 per day, while more medium and heavy users can opt for social bundles that retail at R5 and R10.

To give the customer more control over their usage, the social bundles will send notifications confirming bundle purchase, expiry and depletion notifications.

The social bundles are available on the MyMTN app or via USSD.

The table below illustrates the social bundle rates:

Facebook YouTube WhatsApp Twitter
Duration Data Price Data Price Data Price Data Price
Daily 100MB R5 100MB R5 20MB R1 20MB R1
Weekly 500MB R20 500MB R20 100MB R5 100MB R5
Monthly 1G R50 1G R50 1GB R10 1GB R10

Tickets for Vodacom 

Meanwhile, Vodacom is introducing a data bundle called “Ticket”, which offers overall usage of a range of apps, through categorised bundles, to Prepaid and Hybrid (Top-up) customers through the Vodacom Just4U platform. Ticket bundles offer up to four times the amount of data compared to standard bundles and are also priced for the best scenario, offering data bundles that are specifically tailored to the usage behaviour of the customer.

“Vodacom Ticket will offer customers a simpler way of accessing data bundles for a range of categories, allowing them to stay within their data budget,” says Nyimpini Mabunda, Vodacom’s Chief Officer: Consumer Business Unit.” Vodacom is continuously looking to deliver value for money offerings to our customers, and Ticket is no different. Our customers can engage in the things they love the most without the fear of spending more than they wanted to. That is what Vodacom’s Ticket bundle is ultimately looking to achieve so watch this space as we continue to evolve the product.“

Vodacom says it has formed partnerships with multiple market-leading streaming and digital apps to ensure that customers receive the best value for their data when posting pictures, watching videos, playing games and listening to music.

The service provides full data access to digital and entertainment content through four Ticket categories:

·        Video Ticket (for VuClip Videos, DStv, Netflix, YouTube and Showmax)

·        Music Ticket (for Deezer, Apple Music and Joox)

·        Social Ticket (for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter)

·        Gaming Ticket (for VuClip Games, Vlive Games, SGN and Gamemine)

By partnering with app brands that customers enjoy the most, says Vodacom, it is able to give customers access to what they love, for less, without the limitation of restricted data access to a single pre-assigned app.

For instance, customers looking to binge on the latest series on Netflix, “update their tweeps on their tweleb lifestyles” (Vodacom’s words!) or listen to a hot new track on Deezer, can purchase a Ticket for any of the four available categories via Just4U by dialling *123# from a Vodacom Smartphone. Vodacom’s Ticket bundles enable customers to access platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, through a single Social Ticket.

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