Showmax vs Netflix in gripping battle for African stories. Who will win?

Published May 26, 2024


Africa is a melting pot when it comes to talent and storytelling, and this continues to be proven with the content that is being delivered on film, TV and even through music.

Streaming platforms such as Netflix and Showmax have become places bursting with content for Africans by Africans that are of international standards.

When it comes to Showmax and Netflix there’s an unofficial beef going on between the two as they aim to capture the lionshare of the market. The two platform giants are in a fierce battle to deliver content that is for Africans by Africans.

This May, Netflix debuted ‘The Ultimatum South Africa’ which has been a success locally and internationally. Urban Brew Studios is behind the first edition of the international format.

Netflix has been delivering when it comes to South African content but with ‘The Ultimatum South Africa’, it is as though it drew its chess moves when it comes to its counterpart Showmax.

‘The Ultimatum SA’ S1 hosts Salamina Mosese and Howza Mosese. Picture: Netflix

Showmax was launched in South Africa in 2015 and has created its lane when it comes to delivering successful African content achieving success with the reality and Original shows that they have delivered.

“We’re an African business with its roots here, so we understand the market better than anyone else. And we want to reimagine the game by making it effortless to access and afford the stories that our customers love and that people across the continent love,” Showmax chief executive Marc Jury told The Hollywood Reporter.

‘The Real Housewives of Durban’ is one of Showmax’s biggest success stories, when it comes to their reality TV offerings. They were even able to tap into other franchises in Africa such as Nairobi, Lagos and Abuja.

Showmax has discovered the sauce with reality shows; ‘This Body Works For Me’, ‘The Mommy Club’, and ‘Bae Beyond Borders’ are just some of the titles that have been successful among viewers.

‘The Real Housewives of Durban' cast. Picture: Showmax

The streaming platform has also delivered when it comes to riveting original shows that offer a bit of everything true crime, gripping western drama’s localised and youth edutainment.

“In the last few years, Showmax has over-indexed on local content and they are seeing the long-term impact of that strategy,” film industry investor and tech entrepreneur Jason Nkoju told Rest of World.

One could attribute Showmax’s 2024 re-brand to it’s recent success. The platform unleashed a new content slate that was aimed at local viewers across the board but ever since the streaming platform arrived they have always been about delivering content for Africans by Africans on an international scale.

Showmax 2.0 has an expanded content line-up, including local originals, Hollywood hits and English soccer, attractive pricing and plans to “change the game” in streaming on the continent as they strive to be number one.

If only Showmax would stop making subscribers wait days for episodes, instead of a season upload, like their counterparts at Netflix.

The international streaming giant has always delivered top-quality content but when they entered the African market they also invested in Africa. Netflix officially launched in 2016 in South Africa.

Khosi Ngema as Fikile Bhele and André Lamoglia as Iván in “Blood & Water” S4. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

The collaboration between Netflix and African creators is proving to be gold. With several successful titles ‘Queen Sono’, ‘Blood and Water’, ‘How To Ruin Christmas’, and ‘Kings of Joburg’ being released.

Netflix’s Africa and Middle East content vice president Ben Amadasun told AFP that well-crafted local stories are “a major opportunity”.

People in and from Africa “deserve to see themselves, their lives, their cultures, their languages and their countries reflected on screen”, he added.

The cast of Outlaws, from left, Thembinkosi Mthembu, Siyabonga Shibe, Mnqobi Kunene, Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku, Mmabatho Mogomotsi, Lehlohonolo Mayeza and Keketso Mpilo. Picture: Showmax

There are 52 markets in sub-Saharan Africa, all of which are completely different from one another, including in terms of cultural needs and while Africa may be treated as one, not all content lands in various markets.

That’s why both these streaming platforms are going the extra mile to produce content that will resonate with each market if not most.

So, which streaming platform delivers for you when it comes to content by Africans for Africans?

IOL Entertainment