The music industry has been called ‘ground zero’ for true digital disruption of an industry. Being a music fiend, I have followed, and participated in the evolution of music access, jumping onto nearly every platform, especially now with streaming leading the way. I have, or have had, accounts on simfy Africa, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, Nokia Music and even Spotify, in addition to Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and online radio through TuneIn Radio and RapStation.
In the last few years, video seems to be following suit. Traditionally a big lover of series as much as the next person, in the days of only scheduled viewing, I used to religiously watch quite a few series, in particular Oz, Prison Break, Heroes and all the different incarnations of CSI. Then my son came into the world and changed all of that. Usually at the start of an episode of something or the climax when you find out whodunit, he would demand attention. As a result, much has passed me by.
I am not going to say that I downloaded movies and series via torrents or copied from what friends have but I am aware that this did happen. I have a collection of DVDs, some of which have never actually been unwrapped. I also still have DSTV, primarily because of sport, but am a fan of DSTV Now and Catch Up, which I can engage with on various devices.
Video streaming is evolving at a rapid rate, especially with increased internet connectivity and speeds. The options and platforms available are many and include everything from YouTube, Vimeo, Apple TV, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix to mobile network services and traditional television platforms. In South Africa, with Netflix probably establishing a presence some time in 2016, stakes are getting higher. Cue: Showmax.
Launched in August this year, the Naspers-owned Showmax is a video on demand service providing a range of content including international series, movies, documentaries, children’s shows as well as African content. It launched with more than 10,000 hours worth of content and have been regularly adding content to it.
In reviewing it, I watched primarily on Macbook in browser, on an iPad and on an Android tablet, for which they have apps, and it is a relatively painless process. You can also watch on mobile phones and smart TVs, through the browser. You can, currently, watch on 5 devices and watch two different streams at the same time on different devices.I binged my way through all of Luther, Vikings and season 1 of Dominion. When my trial came to an end, I immediately signed up at R99 per month.
It’s going to be interesting watching how they build the content and how much that would then encroach on a DSTV, which is under the same group. They have an exclusive on the UK series Jekyll and Hyde, having aired the first episode 24 hours after it was broadcast in the UK. They are also looking at developing an app for the next-gen Apple TV, all the while regularly adding series and movies.
In such a changing landscape, all we can do is watch and hope for the best, which is ease of video consumption and options.