February 4, 2018

Showmax: Africa’s Answer to Video on Demand

By Steve Maduka

Today, tight schedules have made it almost impossible for families to come together to enjoy TV programmes. In other to resolve this challenge, TV pundits decided to innovate by infusing the internet into television. This innovation gave birth to online TV such as Netflix, Showmax, Iroko, OntapTV, VU, and Vidi among others.

For brevity’s sake, this comparative analysis will focus majorly on Netflix and Showmax. Netflix is a streaming service which allows its subscribers to watch a wide range of TV shows, movies, sports, documentaries and more on several internet-connected devices. In this case, a customer can stream the movies from his Ipad, tablets, Android phones, laptop, even internet TV.

TV pundits perceive Showmax as Africa’s answer to Netflix. Like Netflix, Showmax is also an online subscription video on demand service which allows subscribers to watch videos and TV series from any device also connected to the internet.

Since the introduction of these two platforms into the Nigerian entertainment market, audio-visual enthusiasts; considering their financial strength seek clarifications as to the opinion that best suits their pocket.

At first glance, some would feel that Netflix has one of the cheapest and flexible plans in the market when compared to Showmax. This is because aside from having three flexible subscription plans – Basic, Standard, and Premium, subscribers to Netflix can subscribe with as low as N3000.

But again, Netflix subscribers would have to also consider the fact that data for these movies doesn’t come cheap. In Nigeria, the cheapest internet plan for 55GB can be purchased between N9500-N12,000 and Netflix can consume as much as 3-7GB per hour. This is a clear indication that even a prudent user of data will barely last a week with this plan.

But besides the outrageous data billing plan in Nigeria, Netflix has a wide variety of local and international movies on it stable. Local movies such as October 1, Lagos Cougars, Keeping My Man, Onye Ozi to mention a few and international movies such as; Space Odyssey, Field Full of Secrets, A Man Apart etc.

This notwithstanding, TV pundits expected that Netflix as an established player putting into consideration the peculiar nature of Nigerian market would have provided more attractive offering to its Nigerian subscribers since they have been in operation for decades. Rather it was Showmax that provided its subscribers with some interesting opinions.

For one, with as low as N2300, Showmax subscribers can gain access to Showmax’s full premium catalogue. In upping their ante, Showmax also made it possible for subscribers to get access to two simultaneous High Definition (HD) streams.

Showmax having considered the challenge with data service in Nigeria made provision for several data-saving options for its users. What this simply means is that a subscriber has the power to estimate the amount of data he needs to watch streaming video with the online bandwidth calculator. Once he is able the determine the amount of data he needs to watch the movie, he can limit the quality of the video so as to save data.

Another interesting feature of Showmax is that it prides itself with exclusivity of several international content. Currently, Showmax has the exclusive rights to international shows including Game of Thrones, Grey’s Anatomy, Mistresses and Beauty and the Beast and it also has several classic HBO series not available elsewhere, such as The Newsroom, Band of Brothers and The Pacific as well as BBC content, including shows like Call the Midwife and Luther.

Unlike Netflix where you need to make subscription payment with a credit card;, Showmax subscribers with just a DStv smartcard number can make payment even in the comfort of their homes through online payment options.

Unarguably, Netflix and Showmax are here to stay in Nigeria but with time, more subscribers through experiencing the services will come to see the unique selling points in both services as this would help shape decisions at the point of purchase.

Maduka is resident in Lagos