On 5 January 1976 South Africans sat with bated breath in front of newly acquired television sets to bear witness to the first ever television broadcast. A lot has changed since then, including the addition of subscription services like DSTV.
Between 1976 and 1978 no ads were broadcasted and after years of using ad breaks to make coffee, we’re back to ad-free viewing with innovations like PVR and more recently VOD.
Video on demand (VOD) perfectly satisfies our demand for instant entertainment and series binge-watching. Up to last year the choices for VOD have been slim.
DSTV’s Box office online, a movie rental service for DSTV subscribers, was the first contender for a VOD audience. Soon others followed suit – Altech with Node, MTN with Frontrow and Times Media Group’s VIDI. When American entertainment provider Netflix announced they would be expanding their service to South Africa by the end of 2016, the race was on.
The biggest game changer occurred this past Wednesday when Naspers announced their entry with Showmax.
According to sources Showmax promises to be “…the new M-Net but for the internet age.” Two subscriptions are available – a premium and free option. The premium service will cost R99-00 per month and will include a host of popular series, as well as a combination of blockbusters and older movies. Old South African series like Egoli, Binnelanders and Agter elke man are also listed on their menu. Whether this is a move towards a target audience or merely saving money in acquiring local productions, remains to be seen.
All you need to use Showmax is a minimum internet speed of 1MB and an internet browser. If you are unsure whether Showmax is for you, a 7 day trial period is available to test the water with first.
[SOURCE: www.mybroadband.co.za, www.iafrica.com]
Times Media Group launched VIDI in September last year and until Wednesday, they’ve been the biggest competition for Netflix locally.
A monthly subscription goes for R149-00 with unlimited viewing including a wide selection of movies and series. (Apparently more than 1000 worth’s viewing) Movies alone can also be rented at R27-00 for new and R15-00 for older releases.
Once again, a line with a minimum internet speed of 1MB is a prerequisite. Just remember that, if you prefer watching your sport and movies in HD on a big screen, 2 – 4 MB connections are a necessity.
The biggest advantage of VIDI, and all available VOD services, is the choice to watch movies or series whenever you want to, uninterrupted or not. If you can’t finish a movie, pause, stop or bookmark it and it will be added to your to-watch list.
Content can be watched on multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, laptop, Apple and Android tablets and smartphones. VIDI also adapts the quality of files according to your platform and bandwidth, so you should be saved from the frustration of buffering images.
[SOURCES: www.htxt.co.za, www.bizcommunity.co.za, www.sabc.co.za, www.tvsa.co.za and www.mybroadband.co.za]
MTN initiative, Frontrow, was launched last year in September – a week after VIDI. Marketing has been extremely low-key and the main criticism is the limited viewing options. As should be expected from a cell phone provider, they focus on handheld devices. MTN does offer a package which includes mobile data.
But don’t take our word for it, rather read mybroadband’s review of Frontrow.
Currently VOD can’t compete with traditional broadcasting channels. DSTV alone accumulated up to five million subscribers over the past 5 years. Sport still remains the biggest drawing card – something which no VOD service caters for so far. However, television as we know it will have to adapt to keep up with technology.
I you are considering the VOD route for your home entertainment, read what the experts say about the current internet VOD options, the possible arrival of Netflix in 2016 and how they compare:
ShowMax, Netflix and SA’s disrupted TV future
Netflix could be game-changer in SA
Netflix vs FrontRow vs Vidi vs Node in South Africa