MultiChoice’s Showmax is making a big move to secure more market share in Africa as competition intensifies between the online streaming platform and its rival Netflix. As a strategy, Showmax is investing in producing its own local content for African audience, Reuters reported.
The move is in line with the broadcast rules announced by Nigeria’s Ministry of Information last year, that reinforces the requirement of 70% local contents in the broadcast industry. The Ministry mandated the broadcast regulator, Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to use their capacity to ensure that contents being broadcast are localized to meet the 70% requirement.
MultiChoice launched Showmax in 2015, and it has risen to become one of the largest streaming platforms in the world, available in 46 African countries and beyond. Showmax’s streaming services extends beyond African shores to Western countries, including Britain and France, which have sizeable African diaspora populations.
As competition with Netflix intensifies, Showmax’s senior executive Yolisa Phahle said in an interview that the company is focusing on developing movies and shows set in its biggest markets of Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
“For us, it really is about getting the local entertainment which we know African audiences enjoy, programming in their languages, stories reflecting their realities, their hopes and their dreams,” said Phahle.
She did not say how much Multichoice was investing in the production of local content.
The countries of focus are all pushing to have at least 30% local content in broadcasts, and the streaming companies are working to make it happen.
Showmax released six new original productions last year to add to its catalogue of content from the U.S-based cable channel HBO. It also offers global football, including the English Premier League, on its Showmax Pro platform.
Some of the shows released so far this year include a reality TV series from Nigeria and a police procedural drama set in Kenya.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced people to spend more time at home, there was an initial increase in viewership for Showmax, Phahle said.
Netflix has in its stream, many popular Nigerian movies including Lion Heart, The Wedding Party, Road to Yesterday and October 1. The company is also introducing new African movies, some of which, it produced.
However, while local contents seem to be paving the way for players in the African streaming market, cost of streaming remains key in winning more audience.
Last week, MultiChoice said it would charge Showmax mobile subscribers across Africa on average 20% less for access on a single mobile device, in recognition that some users may not be able to afford such luxuries during the pandemic-induced economic slowdown affecting most countries.
Phahle said Broadcasters of all kinds on the continent are under huge pressure to keep viewers engaged, and they simply have hundreds and hundreds of other places where they can take their eyeballs or their wallets.
The company is co-producing programmes with HBO and Cinemax on productions set in Africa to global audiences, she said.
“They know that the stories that we are telling from our own backyard will find global audiences,” she said of HBO and Cinemax.