Showmax banking on African streaming boom

MultiChoice expects the African streaming market to benefit from a boom in the near future, and it is positioning Showmax to make the most of it.

The Sunday Times reports that MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela, during MultiChoice’s final results presentation to analysts, said he believes streaming will be profitable soon.

This comes after MultiChoice reported a R799 million trading loss for Showmax on the back of a 46% increase in revenue to R555 million.

“All evidence suggests that streaming will be profitable soon as operators have revised their content costs, subscriber prices are increasing everywhere, and financials are improving,” said Mawela.

“It is critical that we make our move now before others reorganise themselves and make a play for Africa, which is seen as the last remaining growth market.”

MultiChoice announced Showmax 2.0 on Wednesday, 15 November 2023, and has said it will launch in February 2024.

With over 450 million smartphone users and 250 million football lovers on the African continent, it is a significant market for the new Showmax.

The revamped streaming platform’s model comes from its partnership with Comcast-owned Peacock and Sky, established earlier this year.

When it launches in February, users will notice it has done away with the standard Showmax and the Showmax Pro subscriptions.

Instead, it will give customers three options — Showmax Entertainment, Showmax Entertainment Mobile, and Showmax Premier League.

The Showmax Entertainment and Entertainment Mobile subscriptions are similar concerning content.

However, they differ in the type of device on which customers can stream, the number of concurrent streams, video quality, and likely price.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO

As the name suggests, Showmax Entertainment Mobile only supports mobile devices, and users can only watch on stream at a time at a maximum video quality of standard definition.

Showmax Entertainment subscribers can stream content on mobile devices, smart TVs, laptops, and media streaming devices at a maximum video quality of high definition.

Showmax’s two Entertainment plans don’t include any live sports.

However, English Premier League (EPL) fans can opt for the Showmax Premier League plan for access to all live matches and associated extra content.

The plan provides zero access to general entertainment like series, movies, kids’ shows, news, and documentaries and instead focuses on EPL-related content.

“Powered by SuperSport and made for mobile users, Showmax Premier League is the first standalone Premier League mobile streaming service ever to launch in Africa and will take every single match of the world’s most popular football league to every corner of sub-Saharan Africa,” said MultiChoice.

The Showmax Premier League subscription is mobile-only, and video quality maxes out at standard definition. It only allows one concurrent stream.

MultiChoice says Showmax’s migration to Peacock’s global streaming platform allows for rapid scalability, which it plans to leverage.

“The robust platform is used across the globe and is a leader in sports streaming, having successfully live-streamed the Super Bowl to more than six million users simultaneously,” it said.

It added that its partnership with Comcast will help it to deliver an additional $1 billion (R18.2 billion) in revenue in the medium term.

The features offered with each of Showmax’s new subscriptions are compared in the table below.

Showmax subscription breakdown
Feature Showmax Entertainment Showmax Entertainment Mobile Showmax Premier League
Premier League live matches and extra content No No Yes
General entertainment: series, movies, kids’ shows, documentaries, etc. Yes Yes No
Concurrent streams 2 1 1
Mobile app support Yes Yes Yes
Viewing on Smart TV, Laptop, Streaming device Yes No No
Maximum resolution HD SD SD
Downloads for offline viewing Yes Yes Yes (excluding live matches)
Data saver settings Yes Yes Yes

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Showmax banking on African streaming boom