The launch of ShowMax – will officially be announced on Wednesday in Johannesburg, with the service set to start shortly thereafter.
ShowMax is Naspers' attempt to get traction and a foothold in the over-the-top (OTT) subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) market in South Africa before the coming launch of global on-demand video internet subscription service behemoth Netflix.
While Naspers has remained silent and PR company Atmosphere Communications handling the ShowMax contract hasn't issued any information to the press, information is already leaking impacting the new brand – the word ShowMax apparently an amalgam of the names Showtime and Cinemax both known as premium TV providers in America.
According to the cached information on ShowMax's website at showmax.com and which might still change, the service will launch with two options: ShowMax Basic which will be a limited free subscription service which will give users a taste of the ShowMax library and try to upsell them to tho the second option – ShowMax Premium at what will likely cost R99 per month for unlimited access to all movies and series.
The service will only be available in South Africa at launch with possible expansion into the rest of Africa later.
ShowMax will also be offering a 7 day trial period. People who sign up will get 7 days to try the service and can cancel anytime. ShowMax has categories like Hollywood, Best of British, kykNET, South African content and Kids.
Showmax' cost of R99 – a psychological consumer number – is interestingly compared to the basic monthly subscription fee of R699 for MultiChoice's DStv Premium package. In America Netflix and Amazon subscribers pay around $10 for the streaming service, compared to between $80 and $90 per month for a premium satellite or cable pay-TV service.
‘The face of entertainment is changing’
ShowMax is set to show content through adaptive streaming in high definition (HD) (720p).
ShowMax 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.
Viewing is unlimited, but ShowMax is warning that the use of the service is subject to fair usage – although it’s not currently explaining what "fair usage" means.
"The digital experience gives you the freedom to choose when, where and how you watch. The face of entertainment is changing, and you can be part of it," says ShowMax.
According to the indexed site, ShowMax will work on personal computers (through web browsers), iPhones and iPad running iOS7 and higher, Android phones and tablet running Andriod 4.1.0 or higher; Samsung Smart TVs from 2012 to 2015, Samsung Tizen Smart TVs from 2015, LG NetCast Smart TVs from 2012 – 2014 and LG WebOS Smart TVs from 2014 and 2015.
ShowMax subscribers will likely be allowed to watch on two devices simultaneously and will be allowed to register up to 5 devices.
Shows from BBC, SABC, M-Net, international studios
Naspers has culled a massive number of locally produced shows from pay-TV broadcaster M-Net's archives which will be offered to subscribers ranging from M-Net (DStv 101), Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) to kykNET (DStv 144) shows on offer.
Besides programming from BBC Worldwide which has been seen on MultiChoice's BBC channels on DStv like Frozen Planet, a large number of programmes from the SABC archives also appear which will also be available for streaming through the subscription service – some iconic programmes from the public broadcaster like Skoppensboer, Gazette, Vyfster, Agter Elke Man, Arende and several more.
Besides library cult titles like True Blood, ShowMax also features a large number of international shows currently on M-Net, from Arrow and Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife and The Big Bang Theory to Suits, Under the Dome, Elementary, Chicago Fire, Teen Wolf and many others.
"See it as the new M-Net but for the internet age," a source told TV with Thinus earlier this week.
"A lot of the prime content that will be on ShowMax people can already see on DStv but it will be a new way for customers to watch. Also the economic model is different – the service is more about enabling people to really go for binge-watching and things a SVOD player are better at than traditional pay-TV operators," said the insider.
ShowMax will be new competition in the growing local VOD field where the Times Media Group runs VIDI, MTN has its FrontRow service which just lowered some of its prices, MultiChoice has DStv BoxOffice and Altron last year launched the flopped Altech Node decoder which it is now getting rid of.