Is DStv’s Showmax  Actually More Popular Than Netflix In South Africa?

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A recent survey conducted in South Africa concluded that Netflix is less popular than Showmax in the country. Granted the survey was only a reflection of the thoughts of 3 154 participants, for a long time the assumption has been that Netflix is the king of everything VoD. At least they are the usual reference point.

Research conducted by the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa and was taken between January and June 2018. The respondents in the survey were asked two particular questions which are; which video streaming platform they had used in the past week and which video streaming services they used most often? The responses don’t follow the expected pattern.

Streaming service used in the last week (% of respondents) 24% 5%4%
Streaming service used most often (% of respondents)87%6%5%

SA has good internet coverage and the internet is not prohibitively expensive so how does a survey with 85% of the respondents living in metros and urban areas respectively, end up looking like this?

What’s the story?

The respondents who took the survey were grouped into 5 different Socio-Economic Measure groups with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. As expected those in higher groups 3, 4 and 5 voted for Netflix as being more popular but those in 1 and 2 chose Showmax. Clearly, ana Netflix ndeve ma salad. Jokes aside though, exposure plays a big part and it’s not too surprising that this is the case as DStv has been losing premium subscribers. Some of these subscribers go to lower packages and others stop using the service altogether and one would expect that these are the guys shifting entirely to Netflix. There is something quite interesting still…

Local content

South Africa has a booming film industry and their local content is consumed quite heavily with popular shows such as Isibaya, Our Perfect Wedding and The Queen just raking in eyeballs. If Netflix does go ahead and start acquiring even more African content then there will be problems for the likes of Showmax. Without much in the way of differentiation and a less popular brand, one would think Netflix would truly pull away and even these small sample-size surveys will paint a gloomier picture for the African VoD service.


Another advantage that Showmax has is exclusives. Now hear me right, I’m not saying they have more exclusives than Netflix but they do throw some heavy punches with the exclusives they have. Because they piggy-back off of the content secured by their more popular big brother (DStv), Showmax has been able to get exclusives like Game Of Thrones which are not on Netflix and I think this goes quite the way in acquiring a following.

Of course, this is a risky move if the likes of HBO (the guys who actually create GoT) decide to start streaming in Africa as DStv will probably no longer get that content but the situation on the ground right now stands to benefit Showmax and DStv. How do you think this plays out? Will Showmax have an edge on Netflix because of local content or will Netflix’s selection end up trumping all African rivals?

One response

  1. That Dude

    showmax is free to dstv subscribers in SA so that’s not really a comparison

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