Internet TV service ShowMax, which launched in August 2015, has expanded its footprint to 36 additional countries across sub-Saharan Africa. In total, ShowMax now supplies subscription video on demand (VOD) services to 65 countries worldwide.
The company boasts the largest subscription video on demand catalogue on the continent, which includes around 15,000 TV show episodes and movies, totalling around 10,000 hours of viewing.
The service includes a Kiswahili language section and a Nollywood section, as well as an African Film section that pulls together classic movies from across the continent.
“The speed and cost of connectivity are significant hurdles for any Internet-based service in Africa,” explained Barron Ernst, chief product officer for ShowMax. “Getting it right means you’ve got to do much more than just flick a switch. We’ve been busy testing the service in key locations across the continent and optimising our delivery network. Perhaps more importantly, we’ve adapted our apps to address the needs of consumers in Africa, introducing features like downloads for viewing TV shows and movies when not connected.”
The product features developed by ShowMax to address connectivity constraints include adaptive bitrate streaming that monitors connection speeds and automatically adjusts video stream resolution to avoid buffering.
The service also includes a download functionality, allowing consumers to save up to 25 TV shows and movies in total to Android and iOS smartphones and tablets for viewing offline
“The other key to success is making sure you’ve got the right mix of international and local content,” continued Ernst.
According to the GSMA, around 160 million connected smartphones were in use in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, set to rise to more than 500 million by 2020. Combined with the increasing availability of WiFi services, the rollout of FTTH in urban centres and the rollout of other high speed fixed mobile options is driving the take-up of video on demand services.
“The growth potential of the African market is huge and we’re not the only Internet TV service looking to meet that demand,” concluded Ernst. “The difference is that we’re not simply cutting and pasting an existing model from elsewhere, and instead have built a product and content selection designed specifically for Africa.”