Showmax 2.0 hands-on tested

Showmax’s overhauled streaming platform and apps are well-designed and polished, and they performed well during a closed release-candidate trial conducted over December and the start of January.

MultiChoice gave MyBroadband access to the trial for several weeks over the festive season.

We tested Showmax’s new smartphone apps, web interface, and Samsung TV app.

It will also offer apps for LG and Hisense TVs, Huawei smartphones without Google Mobile Services, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Playstation, and Xbox — although not all models will be supported.

MultiChoice announced launch details for the revamped “Showmax 2.0” at a media event on Monday — including a price cut for its original service from R99 to R89 per month.

Showmax 2.0 will launch from 23 January, when MultiChoice will begin migrating existing subscribers’ accounts, and new subscribers will be directed to the updated apps.

The official launch date for the revamped Showmax is 12 February 2024.

MultiChoice first revealed its plan to overhaul Showmax in March 2023, when it announced a deal to sell 30% of its streaming service to Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky.

The partnership gives Showmax access to the technology powering NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform, as well as its content.

In addition to featuring hours of new content and refreshed apps and user interfaces, Showmax 2.0 will offer up to full HD video and Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

Screenshot of Showmax 2.0 user interface shown at media event on 15 January 2024

Regarding the trial, it should be noted that it was not loaded with Showmax’s full content catalogue.

Although there wasn’t enough time to really put the new Peacock-powered recommendation engine through its paces, we could test the overall user experience — which was top-notch.

From logging in, to browsing, to searching for something specific, to playing back content, the user experience was responsive and well-designed.

The new layout resembles other major streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video — which is a good thing.

On large screens, content is organised into rows representing various categories.

Some of the rows are static, like “Featured”, “Recently Added”, and “Continue Watching”. The latter lists shows you’ve started with unwatched episodes or movies you haven’t finished yet.

The interface also contains several dynamic categories to surface content that Showmax believes you might be interested in, similar to other streaming services.

Live demo of Showmax 2.0 Premier League football streaming interface during media event on 15 January 2024

Most of the features customers have come to expect from Showmax are already in the new apps.

This includes downloading content to watch offline later, setting your video quality to reduce data consumption, and age-restricted kids profiles.

However, one feature I noticed was no longer available — screencasting from an iPhone to Apple TV.

Queried about this, Showmax said they do support screencasting via Google Chromecast specifically, but not AirPlay.

The button to cast content via Chromecast will also only appear if one is detected on the network.

Streaming quality also caps out at full HD (1080p).

Live demo of Showmax 2.0 interface during media event on 15 January 2024 – showing episodes of a TV series

Speaking to media during a Q&A session on Monday, Showmax chief product officer Stephen Featham said that although the new Showmax won’t have 4K support at launch, the Peacock platform already supports the technology and will come to Showmax in time.

Featham also confirmed that existing subscribers would be migrated seamlessly and that their passwords would continue to work.

He said people’s watch history would unfortunately be lost, and subscribers would have to select the specific episode of a series they were in the middle of to continue watching.

Overall, Showmax’s closed trial of its new platform instilled confidence that it was a worthwhile switch.

Showmax and MultiChoice South Africa CEO Marc Jury acknowledged that while there might be teething problems on launch day, they are committed to learning from mistakes and quickly correcting issues.

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Showmax 2.0 hands-on tested