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ShowMax ups the ante for video on demand in South Africa

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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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Prepare for Digital TV migration

The deadline for the digital migration is fast approaching. JACQUES BENTLEY, Skyworth Southern Africa Sales Manager, lets us know what we can expect.

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By now you’ve probably heard about the impending digital migration for South African broadcasting. Initially, this shift from old-school, analogue technology to newer, more efficient digital technology was set to take place in 2015 but the deadline for a national migration has been pushed out several times. With our neighbours Namibia and Botswana blazing ahead with their own digital transformations, the pressure is on for our own government to push forward to a fully digital South Africa.

But what does this overdue switch really mean for you and me?

What is digital migration?

Basically, the process involves moving over from an analogue transmission to a Digital Terrestrial Television/Transmission (DTT). We currently use analogue technology, transmitting video and audio through analogue signals. The drawback of this traditional broadcasting format is that the colours, sound and brightness are heavily impacted by the quality of the signal, resulting in a less-than-ideal snowy effect, and your TV deciding to randomly fade or ghost.

Digital TV, on the other hand, boasts crystal-clear image quality and excellent sound without interference because of its land-based network of TV transmitters that broadcast digital signals. This kind of technology also allows viewers to access a wider range of channels with different programmes.

Why is it happening?

Apart from the fact that everyone wants clearer sound, more channels and an enhanced viewing experience, the conversion to digital TV also has a far-reaching goal that ultimately

aids developing nations like our own. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the objective of Broadcast Digital Transition (BDT) work is to help developing countries with their smooth journey from analogue to digital broadcasting, including terrestrial TV, mobile TV and sound broadcasting. In turn, this means that we can enjoy new broadcasting services as well as an allocation of the digital dividend.

When is it taking place?

June 2019 is D-Day for all countries to have completed their digital migration. Our Communications department is determined to meet this international deadline and has implemented a specific DTT war room to ensure that all the boxes are ticked, and they can deliver on time.

The first province to undergo the digital migration was the Free State back in August, where digital Set-Top Boxes (STBs) were launched in Senekal. Essentially, STBs decode digital signals for old, box-style TV sets and the government aims to distribute these devices to about 5-million poor households, so that all citizens can enjoy prime TV, despite their financial situation. In fact, Skyworth is one of the chosen suppliers of these set-top boxes and is proud to be a core part of an all-inclusive transition to digital.

What can you do about it?

While the government has agreed to subsidise cash-strapped consumers with STBs, the only guarantee is that the digital migration is upon us and it is our responsibility to digitally transform our homes in order to meet the requirements. This means that you’ll either need to invest in a digital-ready TV or purchase your own STB to work with your current TV’s analogue signal. Whichever route you decide to go, you can look forward to exceptional viewing entertainment in the comfort of your own home.

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5 things you should ask about buying a new TV

With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.

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Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).

  1. Size matters

If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.

  1. Is it digital-ready?

South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.

  1. Does it have a 4K screen resolution?

Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.

  1. What will you be using your TV for?

Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.

  1. Does it include cutting-edge technology?

From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.

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