Netflix vs Showmax – Ultimate content showdown

Netflix and Showmax are the two most popular standalone streaming services in South Africa and, ideally, viewers should get a subscription to both to access the widest range of content possible.

The obvious choice for which service you would use on a given day would be based on the content you want to watch, whether that is Game of Thrones, Westworld, and His Dark Materials on Showmax, or Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and The Witcher on Netflix.

For those who prefer to stick to one streaming service, we have compared the number of highly-rated new series and movies on each platform to provide an idea of how popular content is distributed between the two platforms.

Netflix has quantity

When it comes to sheer number of shows and movies, Netflix offers the biggest selection in South Africa.

The table below shows the number of movies and series offered on each platform at the time of writing.

Content Netflix Showmax
Series 1,589 414
Movies 3,287 761

Showmax is owned by MultiChoice, however, which operates satellite broadcaster DStv.

DStv is the single best place to find live sports in South Africa, and Showmax has also started experimenting with streaming live sport.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has stifled the global sports industry, however, meaning live sport is not a contender at this point in time.

For this comparison, we therefore looked at the movies and series (and new seasons) launched since 1 January 2019, selected the top 25 from each category based on their IMDb score at the time of writing.

Shows that were not available on either platform were excluded from the comparison.


Netflix’s original shows have proven to be popular among viewers, with Stranger Things, Our Planet, Black Mirror, and Sex Education all ranking highly.

Showmax also offers a selection of highly-rated series, many of which are sourced from HBO.

Interestingly, shows such as The Witcher and His Dark Materials were not ranked in the top 25 TV series, despite being launched in the past year.

Title Seasons IMDb Rating Showmax Netflix
Chernobyl 1 9.4
Game of Thrones 8 9.3
Our Planet 1 9.3
Rick and Morty 4 9.2
When They See Us 1 9.0
True Detective 3 9.0
Stranger Things 3 8.8
Black Mirror 5 8.8
Westworld 3 8.7
The Crown 3 8.7
BoJack Horseman 6 8.7
Dark 2 8.7
Bajillionaires 1 8.6
Formula 1: Drive to Survive 2 8.6
Love, Death & Robots 1 8.6
Mindhunter 2 8.6
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance 1 8.5
Succession 2 8.5
Mr. Robot 4 8.5
Delhi Crime 1 8.5
Unbelievable 1 8.5
Sex Education 2 8.5
After Life 1 8.4
What We Do in the Shadows 1 8.4
Barry 2 8.4

Movies and Documentaries

As this comparison looked at movies launched from 1 January 2019, there are not many recent cinematic releases included in the table below.

Instead, this comparison portrays the strength of the two platforms’ original content selection, as well as their bouquet of international films which have performed well globally.

Netflix, with its global presence and regular production of original movies, documentaries, and comedy stand-up specials, dominates this comparison, with only one Showmax film released since 2019 ranking in the comparison.

Title IMDb Rating Showmax Netflix
Unbroken 9.0
Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones 8.5
Bill Burr: Paper Tiger 8.2
Marriage Story 8.0
Salam – The First ****** Nobel Laureate 8.0
The Irishman 7.9
The Game Changers 7.9
Last Breath 7.7
Road to Roma 7.8
3 Days to Go 7.8
A Star Is Born 7.7
Tell Me Who I Am 7.7
Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us Now 7.7
The Crystal Calls – Making The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance 7.6
Yeh Ballet 7.6
Invader ZIM: Enter the Florpus 7.5
Patria 7.2
Spider-Man: Far from Home 7.5
Uncut Gems 7.5
Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid 7.5
John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch 7.5
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby 7.5
Shelby American 7.5
Aziz Ansari: Right Now 7.5
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie 7.4

Now read: Big increase in Showmax users during lockdown

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Netflix vs Showmax – Ultimate content showdown