Netflix or Showmax, that is the ultimate question when it comes to streaming services that we have in South Africa. I have mentioned Viu in the past but then I do not see it having a bigger piece of the pie due to the content they have at their disposal.

So, in this article I am going to only concentrate on the two big video streaming services in South Africa.

Video streaming pricing in South Africa

Netflix has a tiered pricing strategy where you find that their prices range from R99 to R169. Last year they introduced the R239 Ultra package which is said to have superior sound when compared to what we have at the moment.

When you sign up to Netflix, you get a 30-day free trial.

Netflix South Africa Pricing
Netflix South Africa pricing.

Showmax, on the other hand, only has one price and tier, their R99 package. On top of that, as a new subscriber you get a three months free trial period. If you also have a DStv Premium subscription your Showmax subscription is free and it will cost you R45 if you are on DStv Compact or Compact Plus.

Showmax South Africa
Showmax in South Africa only has one price.

The other thing about these tiers is that each tier has an amount of devices that you can use simultaneously. Netflix limits you to 1 device on their cheapest package and allows you up to 4 devices on the Premium package. With Showmax, you can register up to 5 devices but you can only use up to 2 at the same time.

Video Quality

Netflix uses different quality video standards depending on what tier you subscribed to.

You get SD on the Basic package, HD (1080p) on the Standard package and Ultra HD (4K) on the Premium package.

Showmax only delivers its content in HD (720p).

Platform support

Netflix has an application for almost every other device out there from iOS, Android, Xbox One, PS4 and Microsoft Windows.

Showmax only has applications for PS4, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. I have been struggling with the fact that they do not have an application for Windows. This means when you're on a Windows computer you only watch Showmax via a web browser.

Usability of video streaming apps

I have used Netflix and Showmax on a PS4, Android phone, and a laptop and with the hours Iโ€™ve raked in using those services on those devices Iโ€™ve deduced that Netflix is far more superior than Showmax when it comes to their usability.

For some reason Showmax looks like itโ€™s all over the place meaning for me I only use it when I know what I want to watch whereas with Netflix everything looks clean and very organized. As mentioned above, I do not like the fact that with Showmax they do not have an application for a Windows based device which makes the whole thing look inferior to its competition.


With content, if you want movies or series you havenโ€™t watched before then I suggest you choose Netflix as they have a variety of shows you can watch due to their wide range of Netflix Originals. These range from stand up comedy, anime, and everything in between.

Showmax has a lot of shows you would normally get on DStv like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire. Something I like about Showmax is the fact that at times shows appear way before they are broadcast on DStv a Prime.

Verdict - Netflix or Showmax?

I started using Showmax early in 2018 as part of my DStv Premium package and Iโ€™ve got to say I enjoyed using it very much. I then tried out Netflix.

I enjoyed watching shows on Netflix so much that I actually stopped watching DStv for a good 6-7 months I only got back to DStv due to my wife wanting to watch certain shows that we couldnโ€™t get on Netflix. So, out of the two products, we have in our hands Iโ€™ve got to say Netflix takes the trophy due to the visual quality limitations that Showmax has. On the other hand, Showmax applications look clumsy and then the fact that they do not have an application for Windows devices is a thorn for me as you might have noticed above.

Which of the two do you prefer?

Cover image credit: Pinho/Unsplash

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