It’s 2023 and humanity is blessed with something called ‘video on demand’. Locally, there are a handful of stellar streaming services to choose from. These give you the freedom to watch what you want, when you want to.
In South Africa, Multichoice’s linear TV offering DStv still has a user base of just over nine million people (according to its 2022 earnings report). The streaming offerings we’ll detail below don’t really compete with that number but it’s nice to know that South Africans have VoD options.
Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services globally and, in turn, in South Africa. It offers an impressive library of TV shows, movies, and documentaries.
It’s continuously producing its own original content, which has been hit-or-miss just lately. But it offers a user-friendly experience and has some of the most iconic shows and movies of the recent past. If you suffer from chronic FOMO (fear of missing out) it’s probably smart to add a Netflix subscription to your streaming arsenal.
It has several subscription options but it’s important to note that Netflix will, at some point in the future, start to limit account sharing. Keep that in mind.
- Basic plan: R99 per month (SD quality, one screen at a time)
- Standard plan: R159 per month (HD quality, two screens at a time)
- Premium plan: R199 per month (Ultra HD quality, four screens at a time)
- Mobile plan: R49 per month (mobile only, one device at a time)
Amazon Prime Video
Then there’s Amazon Prime Video. The rule is, if you can’t find something on Netflix, you’ll probably find it on Amazon Prime.
Amazon also develops its own shows and films. Most of these haven’t hit popular culture quite as hard as Netflix’s additions have but there are some gems in there if you’re keen to search. The app experience isn’t as seamless as Netflix but it’s improved over the years, and it’s not the worst you’ll see on this list.
Amazon Prime Video offers a 30-day free trial and has a subscription fee of R79 per month. On this plan, three devices can be signed into one account simultaneously, and two devices can stream the same content at the same time.
While not DStv’s official competitor in the streaming space, Showmax is also owned by Multichoice but offers a more local focus with its content.
Here you can watch locally-produced content – not all of which is… terrible. On the Pro subscription, South Africans can watch a handful of SuperSport channels and keep up with major live global sporting events. Keep in mind that you’ll pay dearly for that option so may be worth holding on to your parent’s DStv logins for a while.
Showmax offers a 14-day free trial and has a subscription fee of R99 per month for the base plan that includes five devices. It also offers a mobile plan for R39 a month that allows two mobile devices to be signed in at once, and a Pro plan priced at R349 per month (with a R299/m promotion running until July this year). Finally, there’s Showmax Pro Mobile, which will set you back R225 per month.
This is where we get to DStv’s ‘official’ streaming competitor. It used to be called DStv Now but has since rebranded.
This feels like a ‘gateway’ product to get more users onto its more expensive satellite TV offering. At R99, it offers a streaming option for non-subscribers that includes content from just 66 channels.
The ‘Premium’ option costs R699 per month and offers content from more than 135 channels. With that kind of money, you can sign up for close to all the streaming services on this list. DStv streams are available in up to 1080p resolution and there are no trials offered.
Crunchyroll is an anime streaming service that offers a wide range of anime and manga content. It consists of a 14-day free trial and has a subscription fee of R109 per month.
In addition to a massive library of anime, this service offers a same-day simulcast of new episodes from Japan. That is, for certain content only but if you’re keen on Japanese animation, this option should be on your radar.
This is a controversial one. If you remember the fleeting life of the Telkom One streaming service, you know that that’s essentially what this is. The SABC managed to take over that streaming service and rebrand it. It now offers free access to channels including SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 and, ironically, you don’t need a television licence to sign up.
You can also expect to see an SABC sports channel, a 24-hour news channel and a bunch of radio stations. A subscription is free, but you’ll pay with your sanity while navigating the page.
It feels like South Africans (and most of the world, that is) have waited a long, long time for this streaming service. Owned by Walt Disney Co, Disney+ offers some of the most well-known content, including movies, TV shows and original programming from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.
Like its competitors, the company is working on a massive line-up of original content, much of which is set in existing universes, like Star Wars. The app is available on a variety of platforms, but be aware that the TV and console apps available here are not the app they use in the US. It’s a watered-down version from India that does have its foibles.
For the most part, it works. It’s worth investing R119 a month to stream all your childhood favourites and Marvel’s Ad-vengers.
Go up an LSM bracket, and you get Apple TV+, which doesn’t licence much content. Here, you’ll find Apple TV+’s exclusive original content.
This can all be streamed on Apple devices, and some smart TVs and gaming consoles. It’s ad-free and offers a minimalist seven-day trial. If you buy certain Apple devices, the company will gift you three months of Apple TV+ for free. A subscription costs R125 per month. Ted Lasso is on it.
An interesting but important entrant in the SA market is BritBox. It offers all-you-can-consume British content. Thanks to the partnership between BBC and ITV, BritBox offers the largest British catalogue you can find pretty much anywhere outside of the UK.
Here you’ll find a mix of classic and contemporary shows. Think everything from dramas and comedies to crime dramas, soapies and documentaries. It’s started offering original content in recent years. Expect to stream the best of British on smart TVs, streaming devices, mobile devices and Web browsers in 4K on Samsung smart TVs, and up to 1080p on other devices. You’ll pay R100 per month or R1 000 per year.
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