John Kotsaftis discusses South African VOD service “ShowMax”

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Showmax now free for DSTV Premium subscribers
Showmax now free for DSTV Premium subscribers
John Kotsaftis, General Manager of ShowMax South Africa
John Kotsaftis, General Manager of ShowMax South Africa

Video on Demand (VOD) services have boomed in South Africa. In mid August 2015, the country saw the launch of a new, exclusive VOD service dubbed “ShowMax.”

At launch ShowMax revealed that it had a content catalogue that totaled more than 11,000 hours of video content, which included local African content as well as international content.

With Netflix being unavailable in South Africa, for the moment, ShowMax is essentially the go-to VOD solution for South Africa at the moment; however, how much data does the service use and how much does the service cost? IT News Africa interviewed John Kotsaftis, General Manager of ShowMax South Africa to gain more insight regarding the service.

1. What is ShowMax exactly?
“ShowMax is a VOD service that gives South African consumers the ability to access more than 11,000 hours of international hit movies and series as well as the best home-grown content online. With a catalogue spanning major production studios from across the globe, ShowMax takes content to a new level, giving local consumers the widest range of video entertainment for their smart devices. ShowMax aims to be Africa’s video on demand powerhouse blending local knowledge and international expertise to give an unparalleled video entertainment experience.”

2. How often does ShowMax update the movies and series’ on the platform?
“We update the content on a regular basis. Essentially there is no set schedule, but the emphasis is clearly on keeping the content fresh for the South African consumer using the service.”

3. What type of internet connection would a user require for ShowMax?
“We recommend a minimum of a 2Mbps connection, with 4mbps upwards preferred. One ideally needs a large data allocation or an uncapped service. An uncapped service will prevent the consumer from wracking up extremely high data charges.”

4. How much data does ShowMax use when streaming a series episode?
“Data usage varies by device, but as a rough guide an hours’ viewing typically uses between 500MB and 1GB of data.”

5. Are you planning to offer the service throughout Africa?
“Our focus is currently on South Africa only at the moment.”

6. On what devices can consumers watch ShowMax?
“At launch we support Android and iOS smartphones and tablets via apps, laptop and desktop PCs via web browser, and newer Samsung and LG smart TVs. We’ll be adding support for additional devices in the future.”

7. How much does ShowMax cost and will the subscription be rising?
“R99/month. At this point we have no plans to increase the price.”

8. In closing, what does ShowMax have on offer, and do you expect competition in the VOD sector?
“ShowMax has 11,000 hours of content which is more than a year’s continuous viewing. One of the local competitors put out a press release last week saying that they have 3,500 episodes (of various series) in their library. ShowMax has 19,000 episodes.”

“We have classic series that includes the likes of Friends, Sopranos, Dexter, CSI and Alias. Additionally, we also offer newer series such as Suits, Game of Thrones, Big Bang Theory and more. As an online service we also have content from major studious including HBO, Time Warner, CBC and MGM.”

“Our local content is diverse and will appeal to all audiences, a lot of the content included comes from the SABC, Kyknet and Mzansi Magic.”

“We’re unashamedly ambitious in what we’re aiming to achieve with ShowMax. The ongoing change in viewing habits has given us the opportunity to build a video on demand powerhouse to feed the marathon viewing trend. We’ve got all the best content from Hollywood and beyond, but at the same time we also have the local content that consumers here expect. Importantly, we’re bringing this in at an attractive price, and doing this across more devices than ever before.”

Darryl Linington