Showmax vs. Netflix: The Fight for High-Octane African Drama Heats Up

Showmax vs. Netflix: The Fight for High-Octane African Drama

Showmax vs. Netflix: The Fight for High-Octane African Drama Heats Up

Sassy and provocative African-made dramas are emerging as a potential key player in one of the world’s largest streaming markets, and a new show is exemplifying this trend. “Youngins,” a series released on the South African-based subscription streaming service Showmax, is making waves with its bold depiction of life in a fictional South African boarding school.

The series challenges societal norms, as evidenced by a teacher telling a new student, “Lights off at eight. No sex here.” However, the narrative quickly unfolds to reveal a wild ride filled with fun, danger, sex, and violence. Kealeboga Masango, who plays the head girl in the drama, describes it as “captivating, relatable, authentic, fun, funny, and fresh – but like South African fresh.”

Crucially, the show’s creators aim to leverage its African authenticity to distinguish it in the competitive streaming landscape. Showmax, owned by the MultiChoice group, one of Africa’s largest pay-TV operators, has ambitious plans for expansion in the African subscription video-on-demand market. With 70% of sub-Saharan Africans aged under 30, the potential for growth is significant.

While global streaming giants like Amazon Prime are reducing their investment in Africa, Showmax is increasing production efforts. The company recently released 21 new original African shows and aims to reach 50 million consumers across the continent by 2028. Showmax’s CEO, Marc Jury, articulates their ambition to become the number one streaming platform in Africa.

Rival Netflix is also actively expanding its presence in Africa, investing $175 million in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya between 2016 and 2022. The streaming giant has signed deals with Nigerian production companies, including a multi-title agreement with EbonyLife, resulting in successful releases like the revenge thriller “The Black Book.”

Despite the potential for growth, streaming technology faces challenges in African markets, such as limited affordable broadband access, data consumption concerns, and internet piracy. However, optimistic forecasts highlight Africa’s vast untapped market of tech-savvy youth, suggesting a bright future for the streaming industry.

Showmax aims to capitalize on this by employing new streaming technology, collaborating with NBCUniversal and Sky, and partnering with MTN South Africa to enhance accessibility through data bundle offers. The company plans to launch over 1,300 hours of original programming in the next 12 months, marking a 150% increase in production output.

The success of Showmax’s African-centric storytelling is evident in the streaming platform’s viewership patterns. In 2022, the majority of the top-streamed titles in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa were African-produced. Showmax’s strategy involves creating original series tailored for key markets, with plans to release its first original series from Ethiopia and Tanzania later this year.

The positive reception of African-made content highlights the appetite for authentic and relatable stories, affirming the potential of homegrown productions to capture the diverse audiences across the continent.


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