Showmax is the best VOD service in Africa right now, and here’s why

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
VOD Services, Showmax Africa, Pay TV Services

For a lot of people across Africa, the options for video entertainment have never been as good as they are right now. The internet has introduced people to a lot of entertainment that includes a number of pay TV alternatives.

In addition to the early to market pay TV services like iROKO and DStv, there have also been several new providers like Netflix, Showmax, ONTAPtv, and NuVu that have emerged in the past year also staking a claim for the top spot in the Video On Demand services race.

Comparing these services isn’t such a straightforward process, though. Most of them aren’t available across Africa (Netflix and Showmax are the only ones that actually cater for most of the continent) and some of them have niche market focuses (like iROKO’s focus on Nollywood).

Despite these circumstances, it’s still possible to identify the one service that has emerged as the best-placed VOD content provider for Africa. Right now that spot belongs to Showmax.

Other than being accessible in the majority of countries (37 countries) on the continent this VOD service has positioned itself as the best choice for the African market because of the way it addresses the unsolved problem of internet access in Africa.

For all the praise VOD services receive and the excitement they create as entertainment alternatives for linear TV, there’s the reality that right now, in Africa, most people won’t consider them as serious TV contenders because internet access is still widely driven by expensive mobile broadband options that make streaming or downloading difficult.

This is where Showmax outdoes its competitors. The service’s mobile application has incorporated a couple of features that make it easier to access a data hungry service like VOD on a tight mobile broadband budget.

Showmax helps users manage their data consumption with features liek bandwidth capping
Showmax helps users manage their data consumption with features like bandwidth capping

The main feature is bandwidth capping which gives users the option to control the amount of data that they spend for streaming. With options for low, medium and high quality streaming a user can spend as little as 0.3 GB per hour while streaming content, which translates to approximately 3 hours for 1 GB of data.

Also related to budgeted bandwidth, there’s the feature that gives users offline access to content with the option to adjust the quality of video that’s downloaded and ultimately the data spent downloading this content.

To be fair, both these features have been independently used by other VOD services like Netflix (it introduced bandwidth capping as a way of adapting to markets with expensive data) and iROKO (it brought in offline access to accommodate usage patterns).

However, Showmax is the only African provider that has adopted both features, which shows a strong focus on the African market by making a service that is aware of the broadband issues we have here.

Is that enough to take a lead in Africa? Yes, especially since Showmax also offers the largest repository of content (which also has some African productions), has a slightly cheaper service than its biggest rival, Netflix and it is, after all has been said, catering for most of Africa.

If you add these things to the considerations around bandwidth then you have a winner in the contest for best African VOD service.


  1. G

    plus showmax has the most uptodate series as compared to netflix for africa
    but they have many technical problems, when i tried to use showmax on the free trial i never managed to download or play even i movie both on my phone or on a pc using fibre
    they also charged me for the free trial as soon as i signed up which is not what a fre trial is
    when i attempted to cancel my subscription later found out they use galipay for their payment processing, they charge u $1 to cancel ur subscription, they also changed my account from free trial to premium – all that these guys have is funding but their product is aweful technical and their customer support is aweful

    1. Nigel Gambanga

      That sounds like a terrible experience G. I didn’t face any of those challenges, though. Downloading or playing content hasn’t been an issue even on the 3G connection I used to try out the service for the first week, and the users that I know that cancelled the subscription weren’t given grief as well. From what you are saying it seems there’s still a lot that Showmax needs to address then.

  2. Jeanette

    Hi G, really sorry to hear that you had issues. Please send the e-mail address that you registered with to and ask them to refer it to management. I will pull all records on your previous correspondence and look into your case personally. We don’t charge anything on the free trial or if you cancel. We will also be glad to assist you with any issues that you may experience.