Showmax, the MultiChoice subsidiary and streaming service that competes with international platforms including Netflix and Disney+, has differentiated itself from its competitors by adding a low-cost sports package to its product offering across the African continent.
The new Premier League subscription costs R69/month as a standalone offer that can be bundled with a R39 general entertainment subscription for R99/month – both offerings are geared towards mobile devices. Although a lean-back television experience is available through the general entertainment plan – R89/month – the Premier League games can only be viewed on mobile.
“The future of video entertainment is on mobile. Currently, about 70% of video entertainment on the African continent is viewed via a mobile device. There are 45 million mobile devices on the continent. Combine that with the most watched sporting property in the world, the Premier League, and we believe we have a winning product,” said MultiChoice South Africa and Showmax CEO Marc Jury at a post-launch media round-table event on Monday.
Sport has long been one of DStv’s main drawcards. MultiChoice hopes that its football package on Showmax will help the platform scale rapidly across its markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
From a technical point of view, Showmax leveraged its partnership with NBCUniversal owner Comcast to scale the platform and add features that improve the user experience. The new platform is faster when browsing, searching and viewing content. One of the newest features specific to its football subscription, however, required the expertise of a US-based Israeli artificial intelligence firm to implement.
“With AI-generated highlights, subscribers can get quick updates without having to watch all the games. The AI watches the game and selects key moments to edit out. It then strings them together into a highlights package, which is loaded onto the platform. The tech is from WSC Sports,” said Showmax chief product officer Stephen Featham.
Another new Showmax feature unique to its football subscription is something Featham described as “a first for a streaming service on the African continent”. Football fans sometimes need keep up to date with multiple concurrent broadcasts of live matches without having to switch streams. On certain matchdays, four or six matches are broadcast live at the same time, usually at 3pm on a Saturday. Premier League content producers, Premier League Productions, have added a Goal Rush feature that switches the video feed to a different match whenever a goal is scored. The commentary team stays the same throughout the broadcast window.
“Viewers can choose to watch a single stream and switch to other matches manually if they want to – this is just for fans who want to watch every goal as it goes in,” said Featham.
The addition of Premier League football to the Showmax platform, Jury said, did not require any new deal between MultiChoice and the English football rights holder. “The rights that MultiChoice has already allows it to broadcast the Premier League on any of its platforms,” he said.
Jury also explained that the Showmax team is deciding what kind of content will be used to keep users engaged during the league’s off-season. The choice to add a football package first, he said, was influenced by the belief that it would help the revamped Showmax scale the fastest. The addition of other sporting codes and how to package them is still under discussion.
“When you have discussions with other rightsholders, a lot of them start to ask, ‘What about us?’. Interestingly, as much as we put pressure on ourselves to offer fresh content on the platform, some of that will come through discussions with sports federations. That will help us better package our offerings across the board, whether linear or OTT (streaming). Rugby? Perhaps, but that’s very much a South African product. It might be difficult for us to scale it across Africa, which will be led by football,” Jury said. – © 2024 NewsCentral Media.
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