The technological landscape in South Africa has been changing at a steady pace in recent months, encouraging viewers to move away from linear broadcasting or illegal torrent downloads for their TV fix and turn to internet TV instead.
Here are 8 reasons why this is the year of internet TV.
1. The problem with torrents
In a recent MyBroadband poll, 63% of voters claimed that they no longer regularly use torrent files from the Pirate Bay.
Torrent files are an extremely popular medium among hackers to distribute viruses and malware that may crash your PC and wreak instant havoc.
The malware may invisibly install background processes, rootkits, keyloggers, Trojans, and other types of threats.
In addition, torrent files are often copyrighted content, and the act of sharing them is illegal and could result in prosecution.
In South Africa, the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft (Safact) is actively involved in the lobbying for improvement of copyright and cyber-related legislation.
And now, with better infrastructure and more options, streaming or downloading shows on internet TV has become more accessible, making the security risks and legal concerns that come with torrent files just not worth it.
2. Better infrastructure
The CSIR reports that in the past three years, the ICT industry has invested R78bn in infrastructure, and government intends to have universal broadband penetration at a minimum speed of 2Mbps by 2020.
We saw a big expansion in operators providing FTTH (Fibre to the Home) in South Africa last year, and Telkom plans to have one million homes connected to their fibre network by the end of 2018.
We’ve already seen a huge growth in fibre connectivity, and this is only going to increase with the operators’ aggressive targets.
3. Greater choice
With the increase in broadband penetration and fibre rollouts, inexpensive internet TV options are on the rise, with three internet TV services available to South Africans today.
ShowMax, South Africa’s own video-on-demand service, for example, costs only R99 per month and gives subscribers a huge variety of local content, boxsets of old favourites, movies in every genre, kids’ shows, and brand-new big name shows that come express from the States and the UK.
4. Real-life editors recommend new content
All of this means that internet TV viewers enjoy incredible choice – but searching for something to watch on the internet can be tiresome.
One of the advantages of legitimate internet TV services is the function that real-life curators and editors play behind the scenes, recommending shows based on viewers’ history.
ShowMax, for example, curates similar shows into their own collections or box-sets, such as the recently launched Oscars Collection, which features all the Academy Awards’ darlings.
In addition, sophisticated recommendation engines work tirelessly behind the scenes building a viewing profile and searching for hidden gems you might otherwise never find.
5. The ultimate binge – a new way to watch TV
Internet TV also plays into viewers’ on-demand habits that mean they don’t want to wait for a new episode of their favourite series, or for there to be any hassle in watching subsequent episodes back-to-back.
Internet TV is designed for binge-watching, with all episodes of a series being automatically queued up, so viewers can watch an entire season of Friends, for example, without having to move off the couch or even pick up the remote control.
6. Data usage that’s easy to control
All these advantages are appealing, but according to a consumer survey, the most common reason people have for not signing up to internet TV services in South Africa is the cost of data.
The amount of data needed to stream TV shows and movies can be one gigabyte (GB) per hour or more.
But, for one thing, internet TV does not leave viewers open to the data loss that comes with seeding (or peer-to-peer sharing) of torrent files once they’re downloaded.
And for another, internet TV service providers are sensitive to viewers’ reluctance to part with data.
ShowMax, for example, has introduced bandwidth capping functionality that reduces data consumption by as much as 75% by lowering the quality of the video being streamed.
If a subscriber is going to watch on their smartphone, for example, they can choose a low-quality setting and use less data.
They can also use ShowMax’s online bandwidth calculator to estimate the amount of data needed to watch streaming video.
ShowMax’s apps also monitor subscribers’ connection speed and automatically adjust the video resolution to the make the most of the available bandwidth.
Subscribers can select a low bandwidth cap of 0.3 GB per hour, a medium cap of 0.7 GB per hour, or leave usage uncapped at 1.42 GB per hour.
7. Downloads for lower data usage, and for all devices
A major plus of internet TV is that subscribers can watch on all their devices – tablets, smartphones, laptops and smart TVs – which makes for convenient viewing, especially when travelling.
And internet TV apps allow for downloads that can be watched offline with zero data costs.
If subscribers use free Wi-Fi to download shows through the ShowMax app, for example, they can watch up to 25 different shows while offline, and will have used absolutely none of their own data.
8. Family friendly
With multiple user profiles on a single account, internet TV services ensure that viewer experience is customised and, importantly, that young viewers are restricted from accessing material that is not age-appropriate.
ShowMax recently added this feature to its Android, Apple TV, iOS and web apps.
Make 2017 your year of streaming by signing up for a free trial
ShowMax currently offers a 14-day free trial. Cancel any time before the trial ends and you won’t be charged a cent.
This article was published in partnership with Showmax.