Showmax price problem

Showmax is one of the most expensive streaming services per title available to South Africans, a bad sign for parent company MultiChoice, which is trying to beat international giants like Netflix and Amazon in Africa’s streaming wars.

MultiChoice released its financial results for the year through March 2024, which revealed a 9% decline in active DStv subscribers.

The company admitted that they were expecting a drop in subscribers since subscriber growth tends to be more muted in years following the FIFA World Cup. However, the company did not expect such a sharp drop.

“Despite the typical resilience of pay-TV in a downturn, many of our would-be customers cannot afford to consistently pay for our product or choose not to subscribe when power availability is unreliable,” the company said.

“Given the challenging environment, the South African leadership team prioritised customer retention and cash generation during the year.”

These major financial hits over the last year forced the company to hike its prices to compensate for subscriber losses.

The company explained that they “drove pricing discipline across all offerings, with the average South African price increases of 5.6% following inflation in order to support ARPUs against weaker subscriber activity and ZAR depreciation”.

MultiChoice’s annual DStv price adjustments kicked in on 1 April 2024, with subscription fees increasing between 3.1% and 7.8%.

Only DStv’s decoder-based products are getting a price hike. Its streaming-only package remains unchanged.

MultiChoice assured that it would offer greater value on these packages to compensate for these price hikes.

These upgrades include revamped channels for Compact Plus subscribers that include the best of Showmax’s original content and the addition of SuperSport’s La Liga football channel to its sports offering.

DStv’s price adjustments for the 2024/25 financial year are summarised in the table below.

DStv PremiumR929R8795.7%
DStv Compact PlusR619R5796.9%
DStv CompactR469R4494.5%
DStv FamilyR329R3193.1%
DStv AccessR139R1297.8%
DStv EasyViewR29R290%
Access FeeR120R1154.3%
ADD MoviesR79R790%
Box OfficeR40R400%

Streaming wars

Showmax, the company’s streaming service, implemented lower pricing packages following its relaunch earlier this year.

According to MultiChoice, Showmax delivered record single-month growth in March 2024, with the paying subscriber base growing 16% from the migrated base at relaunch to year-end.

Showmax revenues for the year grew by 22% to R1 billion, while trading losses increased to R2.6 billion.

MultiChoice is banking on Showmax to deliver growth in its Rest of Africa division and make it the dominant streaming service in Africa. However, Showmax is up against global giants Netflix, Disney and Amazon.

An analysis by Daily Investor showed that while Showmax’s base package is technically cheaper than Netflix and Disney’s, it also offers less variety in terms of movies and series.

According to JustWatch data, Showmax subscribers can choose from 1,010 movies and 256 shows.

Showmax offers the following subscription plans:

  • Showmax Entertainment – R99 per month
  • Showmax Entertainment Mobile – R39 per month
  • Showmax Premier League Mobile – R69 per month

JustWatch states that Netflix offers a selection of 3,951 movies and 2,663 series. While this streaming service is the most expensive at R159 per month, its 6,614 title selection means that it only costs users 2 cents per title for the standard plan.

Netflix also offers a mobile plan for R49, a basic plan for R99, and a premium plan for R199 per month.

Amazon Prime Video has the widest selection of movies, with 7,419 titles and 1,344 series. At R79 per month, with a total of 8,763 titles, this works out to less than 1 cent per title.

From a value-for-money perspective, Amazon Prime Video’s extensive catalogue and price make it the best bang-for-buck streaming service available to South African residents.

Disney+ offers two plans: a mobile plan priced at R49 and a premium plan priced at R139.

It should be noted that exact title numbers are not readily available for Disney+. However, the company says it features at least 1,000 movies and 1,500 TV shows.

Conservatively, Disney+ works out to six cents per title for their premium subscription service.

As a result, at 7 cents, Showmax’s price per title is higher than that of its other competitors despite its lower monthly cost.

The table below compares Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Showmax regarding their catalogues, pricing, and price per title.

ServiceMoviesSeriesTotalPricePrice per title
Amazon Prime Video7,4191,3448,763R79R0.009
*Disney+’s TV show and movie numbers aren’t readily available. The price per title figure is based on the company saying it features at least 1,000 movies and 1,500 series.