Naspers-owned Internet television provider ShowMax on Friday said that it is expanding to 36 additional countries in sub-Saharan Africa. ShowMax was launched only 10 months ago in South Africa.

The sub-Saharan service costs $7,99 per month for unlimited viewing making pricing one of its competitive advantages to Netflix.

The catalogue available to viewers across sub-Saharan Africa includes about 15 000 TV show episodes and movies, totalling almost 10 000 hours of viewing.

The service includes a Swahili language section and a Nollywood section, as well as an African film section that pulls together classic movies from across the continent, ShowMax said in a statement.

“The speed and cost of connectivity are significant hurdles for any Internet-based service in Africa. Getting it right means you’ve got to do much more than just flick a switch,” said ShowMax chief product officer Barron Ernst in the statement.

“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, download functionality, user-selectable download and streaming quality to limit data usage, and automatic size reduction of static pictures delivered to mobile devices.

According to the GSMA, around 160m connected smartphones were in use in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, set to rise to more than 500m by 2020, ShowMax said.

“This explosive growth, combined with the increasing availability of Wi-Fi services, the roll-out of fibre to the home in urban centres and the roll-out of other high-speed fixed-mobile options, is driving the take-up of video-on-demand services,” it said.

The sub-Saharan countries that ShowMax has launched in are Botswana, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Reunion, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

As seen on TechCentral