Monday, August 17, 2015

ShowMax library titles leak before launch announcement; M-Net, BBC Worldwide and SABC onboard with content for Naspers' new SVOD service.

The ShowMax library titles leaked from the website before this Wednesday's official announcement of the new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service from Naspers, revealing that the new South African streaming player acquired licensing rights from BBC Worldwide, M-Net and the SABC.

Naspers is creating and launching ShowMax to pre-empt the arrival of the global streaming subscription service Netflix which told TV with Thinus that it will be in South Africa before the end of 2016.

ShowMax will launch soon in South Africa, likely with a free ShowMax Basic option giving people free but limited access, as well as a ShowMax Premium subscription offering that costs R99 per month for unlimited use.

While ShowMax from Naspers will be direct competition for Naspers' MultiChoice operating the DStv satellite pay-TV service in South Africa, it also does something else: weakening Netflix' available offering.

As with linear pay-TV and VOD services like M-Net, On Digital Media's StarSat and Times Media Group's VIDI, content on SVOD services are also acquired by and licensed to specific operators for specific periods.

That is why Netflix' offering differs from country to country and territory to territory.

House of Cards which is a Netflix drama has for instance been licensed to M-Net for Africa, meaning that House of Cards, although it is actually a Netflix show, won't be available on Netflix when the over-the-top (OTT) operator launches in South Africa.

With ShowMax sowing up the rights to a further collection of content from the SABC, BBC Worldwide, M-Net, and several of the big Hollywood studios, ShowMax is as much about the creation of a new service as it is also a tactical, pre-emptive blow to possible decrease and limit what Netflix as a video internet subscription service would eventually be able to carry on its service.

Interestingly most notably absent from ShowMax - but which could be added before or after the service launches officially - is content from in South Africa and large international content providers like Discovery Networks International and FOX.

The Naspers service managed to get a large number of classic series from the SABC archives - a lot of which are not shown on the linear SABC Encore (DStv 156) channel on DStv and which are making the jump straight from digitisation of the SABC library to online streaming.

Besides a large number of movies, documentaries and stand-up comedy ranging from Rocky to Blue Planet and Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger to TV shows like Deadwood, Dexter, Orkney Snork Nie, The Black Adder, isiBaya, Frozen Planet and many more, will enable viewers to "binge-watch" - watching multiple episodes and as much as they want.

While users will be able to watch as much as they want, ShowMax is warning that the use of the service will be subject to fair usage, although it's not currently explaining what that "fair usage" will mean.

ShowMax is set to show content through adaptive streaming in high definition (HD) (720p) and says subscribers should have a minimum internet speed of 2 megabits per second (Mbps) but that an uncapped 4Mbps connection or faster is recommended for the best experience.

ShowMax subscribers will be able to use the service on personal computers through browsers, on iPhones and iPads, on Android phones and tablets, as well as on Samsung Smart TVs and Samsung Tizen Smart TVs and on LG NetCast Smart TVs and LG WebOS Smart TVs by downloading and using the ShowMax app.