Africa Prefers Showmax: Subscription Numbers Surpass Netflix

As Africa gets increased access to internet connectivity, users are moving away from the traditional ways of consuming media and entertainment provided by mainstream media to streaming services.

The switch to streaming services is being driven by users’ need to access their choice of entertainment when and whenever they want without the fear of missing an episode of their favorite show when they cannot access cable television.

Streaming Subscribers in Africa
Streaming Service Subscriber Numbers in Africa
Service Subscribers Key Markets
Showmax 2.1 million Pan-Africa
Netflix 1.8 million South Africa (73.3%), Nigeria (10.5%), Kenya (3.9%)

The Rise Of Netflix in Africa

Since its launch in Africa in 2016, Netflix has been the top choice for users who want to access entertainment from across the globe at affordable prices and with an appealing user interface. Since its launch, the streaming giant has also invested over USD $150 million into the continent’s film industry.

According to a 2023 article by The Exchange Africa, Netflix had invested USD $175 million in film production in its three leading markets –  Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.  Netflix director of public policy, sub-Saharan Africa, Shola Sanni, said the company has created employment opportunities for over 10,000 people.

“Having injected over USD $175 million into sub-Saharan Africa since 2016, providing employment to more than 10,000 people on our productions, watching our local storytelling partners shine in far-flung reaches of the world, we can attest to the fact that there is a huge socio-economic benefit that Netflix injects into the ecosystems where we operate,” said Netflix director of public policy, sub-Saharan Africa, Shola Sanni.

“We were thrilled by the significant milestones that our investments delivered within a relatively short frame of time, particularly in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.” she added.

Why Showmax is Winning Over African Audiences 

Showmax, a South African video-on-demand service, was launched in 2015. Multichoice owned 70% of the shares, while NBCUniversal owned the remaining 30%. The streaming service has grown steadily and is currently available in 40 African countries.

According to Omdia, Showmax gained 1.7 million subscribers in 2022, which had risen to 2.1 by the end of November 2023. This rapid increase in subscriptions saw Showmax overtake the once-streaming giant, which had 1.8 million subscribers by the end of the same year.

Omdia’s research also revealed that Showmax’s market rose by thirty-nine percent. In comparison, Netflix’s dropped to about thirty-three percent, with Amazon video streaming service Amazon Prime coming in third with a mere 300,000 subscribers by the end of 2023.

Why is Showmax growing fast?

From the beginning, Showmax has been growing steadily, venturing into several other countries, and has attributed its growth mainly to its ability to capture the local market with local content, something Netflix had failed to capitalize on since its launch on the continent.

“We are leading the way and taking African audiences into the future. Our technology is designed for how we live, offering the best data saving features available. We believe in telling African stories in local languages that touch lives and celebrate our past and future,” says Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice CEO Connected Video.

Local content with local languages 

In an article by Rest of World Blog, locals said that they prefer streaming Showmax because it makes them feel like they are watching their local television. They mentioned that the platform has a wide variety of shows, from comedy to african reality TV shows.

Another reason Showmax subscribers and market share are growing rapidly across the continent is its investment in producing shows in the local language. Users who couldn’t understand English or other Western languages were a group that other streaming platforms had isolated.

Showmax creates shows in several african languages, like Afrikaans, isiZulu, Kiswahili, Sepedi, SeTswana, Sesotho, and isiXhosa and others and has plans to add more african languages as they expand to other regions.

Their affordability is also another reason why they are becoming a streaming giant in africa. One can get access to Showmax mobile entertainment from as low as ksh 300,NGN 1200 or ZAR 39 per month.

Flexible payment options and sports 

Showmax has a variety of payment options available which makes it easier for people to renew their subscriptions without going through the hustle of getting a bank card.

As more parts of Sub-Saharan Africa continue to get access to the internet, most of the population still doesn’t have access to constant and stable internet which is why Showmax giving them the ability to download their shows and watch them later is a big win.

Showmax has been able to capture football fanatics by including premier league channels in their packages at affordable rates. With just Ksh 1000, one gets access to Showmax entertainment and premier league channels.

During the launch of Showmax premier league,Showmax CEO, Marc Jury said that Africa has over 250 football lovers who will greatly benefit from the product launch as they can keep up with their favorite clubs wherever they are whenever they want.

“There are currently just over 450 million smartphones in the hands of individuals across Africa … and more than 250 million avid football lovers on the continent,” says Marc Jury, CEO of Showmax. “Showmax Premier League is a game-changing product that gives individuals a ticket to the football they love, wherever they are, on the device they always have with them, at a price that’s impossible not to love.” 

“Africa is incredibly important to the Premier League and our clubs; 20% of TV audiences on any given matchday come from Africa,” says Richard Masters, Premier League CEO. “We are delighted with this Showmax initiative, which puts the Premier League in your pocket at a new price point so that millions more can enjoy our fantastic competition,” he added.

How Netflix is stepping up in Africa

In recent years, Netflix has been trying to break into the local market by working with local producers to produce relatable content and only time will tell if the huge investments they are making into the African film industry will actually pay off.

Showmax’s fast growth and market capture can be largely attributed to the already established market by its parent company  MultiChoice. 

In conclusion, As Showmax continues to dominate the local market in the second quarter of 2024, MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela is confident that their numbers and market share will keep increasing because they understand africa and are creating content and a platform that will revolutionize streaming in Africa in 2024

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