media update’s Taylor Goodman unpacks the three most popular streaming services available for South African audiences. 

Although audiences are inundated with streaming options, locally, these options are a tad bit limited. Currently, two of Netflix’s biggest competitors — Hulu and Disney+ — are unavailable to South African audiences … for now.  

Despite this, South Africa’s top streaming services (Netflix, Showmax and Prime video) are dominating the market, making up 83% of the market.

Want to know more? Let’s get into the top three streaming services in South Africa right now:


What is it? 

If you don’t know what Netflix is, you must be living under a rock! Although Netflix started as a DVD rental service, it has grown to be the top streaming service in the world. 

The streaming platform boasted a massive 207.64 million paid subscribers worldwide in the first quarter of 2021. 

Netflix can be largely attributed to the rise of streaming and is the motivating factor behind the consumer migration towards subscription-based, online services over their cable TV subscriptions. 


A basic plan on Netflix costs as little as R99/pm. The standard package goes for R199/pm

The difference between these plans is that with a basic subscription, you can only view on one screen, while a standard package allows you to view on two screens at once. 

A premium package is R169 per month. This allows you to watch on four screens at once.

Additionally, viewers with standard and premium subscriptions can enjoy content in HD and Ultra HD resolution. 

As of September 2020, Netflix began testing its new mobile subscription plan. This was created solely for mobile use. Users could either subscribe to the basic mobile plan, at R39/pm or Mobile+ for R59/pm. 

Why should you use it? 

What gives Netflix its edge is its variety. Netflix has over 3 000 titles available.

Netflix hosts beloved original content, with smash hits like Stranger Things, The Crown and Orange is the New Black.

*Image courtesy of Netflix

Despite this platform originating in the USA, it has a wide array of international content. Whether you’re interested in anime or reality TV, there are a lot of options to choose from. 

Netflix also has its fair share of South African content, like the popular Blood & Water, which was the first South African show to reach the number one spot in the United States. It also held a top spot in countries like Brazil, Mauritius, Belgium and the United Kingdom

Aside from the diversity on this platform, it is also easy to use, supports offline playback, is ad-free and allows for multiple viewership, even on the basic payment plan. 

Netflix’s competitive pricing, coupled with its diverse range in programming, gives the platform an edge over its competitors. 


What is it? 

Showmax, South Africa’s very own online subscription video service, launched in 2015 and has skyrocketed in popularity since. 

In South Africa, Showmax is currently Netflix’s biggest competitor. Netflix dominates 35% of the market, while Showmax is hot on its tails with a 24% share of the market. 


Currently, a standard Showmax subscription goes for R99/pm. With this package, users can have two concurrent streams and can watch in HD resolution. 

Want a cheaper alternative? Showmax Mobile is available for as little as R39/pm. With this price plan, users are only able to watch on one screen and in SD resolution. 

For those looking to splurge, the streaming service offers Showmax PRO for R449/pm. This allows the user access to two concurrent streams, HD resolution, a 24-hour news channel and live sport. 

Why should you use it? 

Similar to its competitors, Showmax offers movies, series and live sport, all on demand. Where it has an amicable edge, however, is with its array of local content. 

Although Netflix does feature some local content, Showmax completely overshadows it. The platform is particularly popular for broadcasting content in South African vernacular. 

Another highlight of the platforms is Showmax Originals like Life with Kelly Khumalo, DAM or Tali’s Baby Diary.

*Image courtesy of Showmax

Additionally, as HBO Max is unavailable in South Africa, Showmax broadcasts many popular HBO series like Game of Thrones, Westworld and Euphoria

What sets Showmax apart from its competitors is its variety of local content as well as its offer of live sport. If you are looking to support local, Showmax is definitely the way to go. 

Amazon’s Prime Video

What is it? 

Amazon entered the streaming wars with their offering Prime Video. Although this platform is the newest player in the game, launching in December 2016, it is proving to be a force to be reckoned with. 

Although Netflix is the clear front runner in the South African streaming wars, Prime Video is closing in on Showmax. Showmax currently holds a 1% edge over Prime Video with their market share, sitting at 25% and 24% respectively. 


Prime Video offers a seven-day long trial, after which users pay $5,99/pm. This works out to R85.57/pm. This platform only offers this payment option, which is the cheapest of the lot. 

Additionally, users can stream from three screens at one time and this platform supports offline playback. 

Why should you use it? 

Although you can stream many popular movies and TV shows on Prime Video’s platform, its biggest claim to fame is its selection of exclusive, award-winning content. 

This platform is host to the Emmy-winning Fleabag and The Marvelous Ms. Maisel. Prime Video also offers an extensive movie catalogue that is regularly updated with both recent releases and the classics.

*Image courtesy of Prime Video

What sets Prime Video apart from its competitors is that it offers viewers the option to stream in 4K resolution. Neither Netflix nor Showmax currently has this option. 

With this in mind, if you’re on the hunt for unique content at 4K resolution, Prime Video may be the option for you! 

What is your favourite streaming platform? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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If you want to learn more about the streaming wars? Then be sure to check out Streaming versus pay TV: Which option is best?
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy