ShowMax has officially launched internet TV services to 36 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The company originally launched in August 2015 with the largest subscription video on demand catalogue on the continent.
The sub-Saharan Show-Max service costs US$ 7.99 per month for unlimited viewing. The catalogue includes approximately fifteen thousand TV show episodes and movies, totaling almost ten thousand hours of viewing. The service includes a Kiswahili language section and a Nollywood section, as well as an African Film section that pulls together classic movies from across the continent.
Video 0n demand (VoD) offerings have increased rapidly in the last year in Africa most notably Netflix’s arrival in Africa. Nigeria’s iROKOtv, originally “dubbed the Netflix of Africa” streams over 950,000 hours of VoD content each month focusing on Nigeria’s booming Nollywood industry with Jason Njoku recently receiving an Outstanding Industry Achievement Award for his work in building iROKO.
Appsafrica.com also recently reported a new entrant called NuVu from Ericsson, which claims to be the first “end-to-end subscription video-on-demand content service”, intensifying competition further in the VoD space. NuVu’s solution gives subscribers access to around 3,000 local and international TV and film titles for a small monthly fee.
The main issue is that most streaming systems on offer are on-demand, paid for services (subscription) that only work on broadband connections (3G, LTE, ADSL, FTH etc) and cost and quality of data is still an issue in Africa. Tuluntulu a mobile content platform Voted Best App at the Appsafrica Innovation Awards 2015 overcomes this by distributing TV and radio on a free mobile app designed to work on mobile devices connected via low bandwidth connections but is free on Wifi, targeting audiences in Africa and globally with African focused content.
“The speed and cost of connectivity are significant hurdles for any internet-based service in Africa. Getting it right means you’ve got to do much more than just flick a switch, Barron Ernst, Chief Product Officer for ShowMax commented:
“We’ve been busy testing the service in key locations across the continent and optimising our delivery network. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve adapted our apps to address the needs of consumers in Africa, introducing features like downloads for viewing TV shows and movies when not connected.”
“The other key to success is making sure you’ve got the right mix of international and local content. We’ve added Kiswahili and Nollywood shows and movies to our existing class-leading catalogue of Hollywood and British favourites,” said Ernst.
According to the GSMA, around 160 million connected smartphones were in use in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, set to rise to more than 500 million by 2020. This explosive growth combined with the increasing availability of WiFi services, the rollout of FTTH in urban centres, and the rollout of other high speed fixed mobile options is driving the take-up of video on demand services.
“The growth potential of the African market is huge, and we’re not the only internet TV service looking to meet that demand. The difference is that we’re not simply cutting and pasting an existing model from elsewhere, and instead have built a product and content selection designed specifically for Africa,” concludes Ernst.