Naspers-backed Netflix killer ShowMax courts Safaricom as it launches in Kenya

Naspers owned ShowMax, a subscription video on demand service is partnering with Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telco and the most revered company in Eastern Africa, to gain a considerable market share in Kenya, a market it considers ready for its service than Nigeria due to broadband prices.

Launching to the general public today, ShowMax has been doing trials with a few users, has built a local content delivery network in Kenya to curb slow speeds and buffering and has M-PESA as a payment option allowing users to pay via their mobile phones. Apart from M-PESA payments, the two firms are also working on a data bundle exclusively for ShowMax subscribers. The deal will be officially announced in a few weeks.

According to ShowMax CEO John Kotsaftis, Kenya has all the right ingredients: tech-savvy consumers, rapidly expanding internet connectivity, and an appetite for quality TV shows and movies and ShowMax is a fit as it also solves one the biggest challenges such customers face.

“It doesn’t matter how good your service is if you don’t first solve the data challenge for customers, particularly for the majority of people who rely on mobile internet,” Kotsaftis said. ”That’s why we designed data-saving features and the ability to download content into ShowMax from the outset. With these features and a strong focus on local content, we think ShowMax will finally crack the internet TV model in Kenya.”

At the moment, ShowMax has two-tier services in Kenya;ShowMax Select, a mobile-first option priced at KSh 330 per month. ShowMax says Select is data optimised and reduces data consumption to up to 75%. Select also focuses on local content, and is paid for using M-PESA. The second offering is ShowMax Premium, priced at KSh 880 per month, has a full range of international and local content.

Both Select and Premium allow subscribers to either stream content or to download up to 25 shows to watch offline. Downloaded content is valid for 30 days. Some of the local content available on ShowMax include Real Househelps of Kawangware, Churchill Live, Auntie Boss, and Kona, as well as popular series and movies from Hollywood like Mr Robot, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Blue Bloods, and The Good Wife.

Initially launched in South Africa last year, ShoMax says it’s currently available in 65 countries as a single-tier service and ShowMax Select was launched to solve the data issue, ease payment options, get a mix of both local and international content and make the service affordable.

The split of local and international content on ShowMax Select is approximately 50/50.  ShowMax Premium adds access to the full ShowMax catalogue of hit shows and movies from Hollywood and the UK.  ShowMax Premium contains approximately 30% regional content and 70% international content.

ShowMax is set to face competition from Netflix which launched in various markets across Africa, Liquid Telecom’s ipidi.tv, Ericsson’s Nuvu, Malaysia’s iflix and Wananchi Group’s unnamed, yet to be launched on-demand video platform and several others targeting the African market.

Users can get the service via Android, iOS, Appletv, Chromecast and can pay VIA credit cards, PayPal or M-Pesa.

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