What could be deemed as the worst-kept secret in South African streaming entertainment, Naspers’ ShowMax officially launched yesterday across the internet.

In actual fact, the leaking of what the service has and what it entails created more publicity than Naspers could have hoped for.

While we will have a review up a bit later today, for now here is everything that you need to know.

What do you need to watch it?

Oddly, a lot of people on Twitter wanted to know if you need a decoder or satellite dish to view it. No, you don’t – the only thing that you need is an internet connection. You access the website, register and you are all good to start watching movies and television series.

What internet connect do you need to watch?

The content on ShowMax is currently only available in 720p video resolution. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that you only need an internet connection of at least 2MB to view content. The bad thing is that you won’t get the crystal clear visuals akin to 1080p, which might put off a lot of people.

How much content is available?

A lot. By Naspers’ estimates, there are about 750 complete television series available to watch, and while it didn’t divulge exactly how many films there are, it did say that across the entire service, all the content equates to about 11 000 hours of viewing time.

Does it have Game of Thrones?

If you haven’t seen Game of Thrones yet, then you are in luck. ShowMax does have the hugely-popular series (all five seasons actually), but one thing that could have caused some confusion from the launch, is that ShowMax doesn’t have Star Wars.

How much does it cost?

The service has two tiers of viewing – a paid model, and a free version. The paid model will set you back only R99 a month and you can view as much content as you heart desires. There is no paying extra to view certain content, and the R99 gives you access to all the content – which can be streamed to three devices. The free version allows you to watch the limited selection of content marked as ‘free’ only. There is however, a seven day free trail so you can kick the tires a bit before committing to the R99 a month.

Is it better than Netflix?

Well, that depends on your tastes. The service has a lot of films, but many of them are also available on Netflix. To be honest, it would be silly to have a ShowMax subscription and a Netflix subscription. But if you want to go the legal route without having to struggle with geo-locking, then ShowMax is for you. Its a combination of Netflix and Hulu Plus – of sorts.

How long will content be available for on ShowMax?

While it varies between shows and films, most of the content will be available for 12 months from the moment it has been added. Rest assured that content will constantly be added, so there is no worry that you will one day wake up with nothing to watch.

How up-to-date are the shows and films?

For television series that are still on-going, most available are about one to two seasons behind the US release date. ShowMax explained that that it buys the streaming rights in the second buying window (where the first window would be up-to-date streaming). If you want to stay current with your favourite series, ShowMax is not for you. If you want to binge watch through multiple seasons, then ShowMax is perfect. In terms of films, you are looking at a good couple of years behind box office release.

Will ShowMax have original series and films?

Yes! During the media briefing yesterday, ShowMax General Manager John Kotsaftis did say that ShowMax will in the future commission original South African content. This also puts it even more in competition with Netflix, as the US-based streaming service is known for their ‘Netflix Original’ content like Orange is the New Black.

Does it have Afrikaans shows?

While not as big as initially thought, ShowMax does have Afrikaans shows and films – and some impressive titles at that. Television shows like Villa Rosa, Binnelanders, Agter Elke Man and even Orkney Snork Nie and Vetkoek Paleis are all there.

Does it have content for the kids?

Yes – and the little ones will be very happy with the selection. Toddler favourites like Shaun the Sheep, Teletubbies, Paddington Bear and Gummi Bears are all there. There is even a kid-friendly version of Super Mario World and The Avengers.

On what devices can you watch ShowMax?

For now, you can watch it only almost anything that has an internet connection, like mobile phones, tablets and computers. The following devices are all supported:

  • iPhone and iPads running iOS 7 or higher
  • Android phones and tablets running Android 4.1.0 or higher
  • Samsung Smart TVs (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
  • Samsung Tizen Smart TVs (2015)
  • LG NetCast Smart TVs (2012, 2013, 2014)
  • LG WebOS Smart TVs (2014, 2015)
  • PCs and laptops

We did ask if the service will be bringing out an app on the local PlayStation and Xbox market places, and while it isn’t there now, there is definitely the possibility that it could happen if enough people have the need.

Further questions

If something isn’t very clear or there is a question that we didn’t tackle and you would like to get it answered, please do let us know through Twitter so that we can inform you to the best of our abilities. After all, that is why we are here.

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.