Showmax 2.0 tested

MultiChoice’s upgraded Showmax offers a much-improved interface and responsive performance on par with major international streaming services.

The South African pay-TV broadcaster has partnered with US media conglomerate Comcast’s NBCUniversal to create a new Showmax that runs on the same platform as Peacock, its video streaming service.

It will officially launch on 12 February 2024, with a new price of R89 per month for the regular Entertainment plan that provides access to thousands of movies and TV shows on various devices.

The mobile-only Entertainment plan will remain at R39 per month, while Showmax is adding a Premier League Mobile plan for R69.

The latter can be bundled with either the regular or mobile-only Entertainment plans.

MyBroadband previously tested a closed release-candidate trial of the service over December and the start of January.

We found the experience on a Samsung Smart TV to be on par with international streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Over the past few weeks, MultiChoice has gradually opened up the new Showmax to general users and launched a preview version of the app.

Despite the increase in users on the improved service, we found Showmax 2.0 has continued to remain stable — throughout sign-up, payment, login, and general use.

We tested the service through its website on the Chrome browser, via the Android mobile app on a Samsung Galaxy S22, and on the Android TV app on a TCL 4K Smart TV.

All three versions were well-designed and easy to use — with no major playback issues or bugs over several hours.

Importantly, there was consistency in certain features where it mattered, such as the basic layout of content, which simplified the navigation process.

Showmax 2.0 browser home page
Showmax 2.0 mobile app home page

The layout of the Showmax 2.0 interface is similar to Netflix and Disney+.

At the top of the browser window and apps is a large carousel of banners for popular movies and TV shows, with shortcut buttons to start watching them immediately.

Underneath the banner section are scrollable horizontal rows for different categories of content.

Across all three platforms, the order of the categories was the same, starting with  “Showmax Original: Stories”, followed by “Recently Added Series”, and then “Continue Watching”.

Further down, users will come to a section that sorts content by genre, including action, romcoms, true crime, and comedy.

Underneath this category is where users will see “+My Stuff”, where all the titles added to a profile’s watchlist are stored.

At the bottom of the categories on the home page is a section that sorts content by provider, like HBO, NBC, Universal, Warner Bros., Paramount+ Sky, and Sony.

This should come in handy for those who are fans of a particular network or studio’s titles.

Showmax 2.0 mobile home page on left and HBO section on the right.

The mobile app — which will be an important focus for MultiChoice given that many Africans primarily access the Internet through their smartphones — was particularly exceptional.

Firstly, the navigation pane at the top provided quick access to the Movies, TV, and Sport sections.

An additional “More” button expands into a large list with the same content sections and the “+My Stuff” category.

A floating menu at the bottom of the home page also provides quick access to the Home, Search, Downloads, and Your Space pages.

The latter is for configuring your profiles and account settings, including streaming quality.

It is presented upon first signing into the app on mobile, allowing users to avoid heavy data consumption from the get-go, another important feature for price-sensitive consumers.

The video playback window on the mobile app had large buttons for controlling the stream.

At the top right are controls for quick muting, subtitle selection, playback quality adjustments, and a three-dot button that opens the “Continue Watching” section, with the option to go to “+My Stuff”.

The mobile app also had plenty of places where the “Download” button could be easily accessed, allowing users to quickly download a movie or episode while on Wi-Fi so that it could be viewed without consuming mobile data.

Layout of individual titles. It should be noted that the casting button only appears when a Chromecast-supported device is detected on the network.

The home pages of the browser and TV app versions of Showmax were very similar, apart from the navigation panes being at the top in the browser and to the left in the TV app.

However, the basic order of the sections was the same.

The playback windows on the browser and TV apps were well laid out to make the best use of the extra screen real estate.

Most of the buttons shown at the top-right in the mobile app are located in the bottom-left corner — including the controls for subtitles and video quality settings.

The pause/play button and buttons for rewinding or forwarding by 10 seconds are in the middle of the playback window beneath the timeline bar.

The web app also has buttons for full-screen toggling and volume control in the bottom and top right corners, respectively.

Basic layout of playback control on Showmax 2.0 on a browser. The content in this video is blacked out for copyright reasons.

We had some minor gripes with the new Showmax, but it should be emphasised that the service is currently only in preview, and many of these issues will likely be resolved by the official launch.

Firstly, we found that several titles, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, had no subtitles.

Secondly, movie and show trailers were hidden away in the Extras or More Info sections of each title, making it difficult to quickly get a good feel for the content. For many titles, there was no trailer available.

On the browser version of Showmax 2.0, the resolution of the banner images was also quite low, giving the overall interface a bit of a cheaper look than on the other platforms.

The major issue that several users were complaining about in the reviews of the app on the Google Play Store was that a lot of content available on the old Showmax was missing.

It should be stressed that the catalogue is still being populated with all the content that Showmax has licenced and will likely only be complete at the official launch.

However, the one problem that devout users of the previous Showmax will have to live with is that their watch histories, recommendations, and watch lists will be purged on the new app.

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Showmax 2.0 tested