There are now four major video on demand services that South Africans can enjoy namely, Showmax, VIDI, Netflix and OnTapTV.

Granted Netflix is not entirely new, but the fact that any South African with internet can now access Netflix for a nominal fee has been the news of the day.

So now that we have all this choice, which is the best streaming service? Which offers most bang for your 100 bucks a month? To answer that question we need to break down all four services and see just how well they perform.

Before we begin please note that all of these comparisons are in relation to the South African offering of these services. International offerings were not taken into account.

Movies


The quality of movies is very subjective, but if we were going to name a winner between Netflix and Showmax, which clearly have similarly sized libraries, it would probably go to Showmax because it has a great variety of locally produced content and blockbusters from over the pond.

TV Series


Once again, a very subjective area if we’re honest, and which service is right for you really comes down to your tastes. Showmax does offer a lot more in terms of popular shows produced locally and abroad, including Suits, Game of Thrones and Isibaya which are all available to binge watch right now.

Price

We know Netflix offers a cheaper option ($7.99 for one screen viewing in SD only) but because Showmax and VIDI allow streaming to two screens simultaneously we chose the $9.99 package, because that’s the one closest to its rivals. For that, you get HD streams (if your bandwidth can tolerate them). The cheaper package is limited to SD, while the more expensive package gives you 4K streams if you want them. Like the other services OnTapTV allows streaming from two locations simultaneously. Showmax and Netflix are the only two services currently offering streaming at HD quality while VIDI and OnTapTV are currently only streaming in standard definition.

It’s important to remember that Netflix is charging subscriptions in dollar pricing at the moment so your subscription fee will fluctuate as the value of the rand does. What we’re looking for here is value for money and Showmax has it in bucket loads.

There is a lot of content and more is being added to Showmax frequently. That said using a service that scrambles your DNS request like TunnelBear or Hola! means that you can access international Netflix libraries, this is an additional cost you will need to factor into your purchasing decision.

Local content & considerations

This is something we thought was important to include because it does strike us as important. Netflix’ service has had no customisation for South African tastes or needs: it doesn’t even follow our local age rating program at the moment. The firm does have a good reputation for investing in local studios post-launch, but there’s nothing original yet.

Showmax and OnTapTV, on the other hand, not only have a lot of niche content for specific audiences (Afrikaans TV and Bollywood movies, for example) they can both be used offline. That’s something which is necessary if streaming TV is going to go mainstream here: not many households have uncapped internet at home, but downloading a show on Tshwane Free WiFi and taking it home? Yes.

Trial Period

VOD Service Trial Period in days
Netflix 30
Showmax 17
VIDI 7
OnTapTV Unlimited

Well, Netflix was going to win one round and it’s the trial period round. Netflix offers a 30 day trial where you can enjoy all the content available on the site. While the OnTapTV offering does look tempting the free trial only grants users access to select shows from select series which rotate regularly so we have to take points off for that.

Extras

VOD Service Extras
Netflix None
Showmax Offline viewing on Android phones and tablets, pay for Showmax with eBucks
VIDI Instant Rentals
OnTapTV  Select (Hollywood blockbuster movie rentals), Special channels including African OnTap TV, Chinese nowTV, Fight Sports and Glow TV (Bollywood)

OnTapTV takes the cake in extras especially for fans of Bollywood and locally produced content. These extras do require additional payment as do the VIDI Instant Rentals, something to keep in mind.

So which are you going for? Tell us in the comments below…

[Image CC by 2.0 – Daniel Horacio Agostini]