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DSTV vs Netflix vs Showmax: Best TV Entertainment To Choose In South Africa

Almost a century ago the world was forever changed when a 21-year-old American inventor, Philo Taylor Farnsworth, created the first fully electronic television. The next big invention arrived in 1962 – satellite television.

There were a few sceptics in the beginning, speculating that the strange little box with pictures would never amount to very much. Who would have guessed that years later people would be constantly glued to that little box!

Satellite TV vs Digital Providers

The next evolution of entertainment came with online Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) services. One of the most famous ones, Netflix, was founded in 1997. It is the world’s sixth-largest internet company, ranked by revenue. Currently it’s available in more than 190 countries.

Netflix hit the South African shores in 2016, a year after a local SVoD was founded. ShowMax was created in 2015, in partnership with DStv. After its successful launch, the company decided to make its services available through the existing DStv decoder.

So, you can get the best of both worlds, instead of deciding which type of provider is better. But let’s look at each separately to explore the pros and cons.

DStv vs Netflix vs Showmax Best TV Entertainment for South Africa


When it comes to satellite television, it does feel like DStv has a monopoly in South Africa. The other options are OpenView HD or StarSat. But it does seem that quality-wise, DStv remains the firm favourite.

They offer seven packages, ranging from R29 p/m for 15 channels to R759 p/m for 110 channels. Other add-ons include BoxOffice, a virtual DVD store, and special decoder options such as the personal video recorder (PVR).

The upside of a DStv subscription, is that you can choose a package that fits your budget. Instead of being stuck with only the local channels of SABC and Etv, you can broaden your viewing horizons with movie or documentary channels and more. If you are a big sports fan, DStv will keep you entertained for hours. Of all the local satellite provider options, DStv is definitely the best option if you want high-quality sport coverage.

DStv vs Netflix vs Showmax Best TV Entertainment for South Africa


With its formidable reputation around the world, it’s exciting that this service is now available in South Africa. The company grew from a video-on-demand streaming service and DVD sales plus rentals, to solely focusing on online content.

In 2013 they also entered the content-production industry, debuting with the House of Cards series. Their exclusive content makes the service very popular. Plus, they support higher quality visual devices such as HD and Ultra HD.

Packages range from roughly R115 to R175 ($7.99 to $11.99). The different packages are linked to the type of streaming – the basic one offering one standard definition stream and the advanced up to four simultaneous high and ultra-high definition streams.

DStv vs Netflix vs Showmax Best TV Entertainment for South Africa - Netflix Shows

You have access to thousands of movies, series and documentaries with new additions every day. But there are some that complain about the fact that locally you only have access to about 5% of the international content. The exclusive content does remain a big perk. Popular series include Marvel’s Daredevil, Orange is the New Black and Narcos.

Try a 30-day free Netflix trial.

DStv vs Netflix vs Showmax Best TV Entertainment for South Africa


It’s basically the local version of Netflix but with more limited content. The monthly subscription is only R99, which definitely makes it a great subscription video on demand service to consider.

Starting out in 2015, the company offered about 750 different series and 400 movies. The service includes both international and local content. Golden oldies include Egoli, Orkney Snork Nie, Msawa and Ballade vir ’n Enkeling. International shows include Game of Thrones, True Detective and Entourage. They also showcase older classics such as Breaking Bad, The Newsroom and The Wire.

ShowMax is owned by Naspers. Does that name ring a bell? Yes, that’s the same owner of DStv. Both mediums also offer similar content. The biggest difference between Netflix and ShowMax, is the connection to DStv. Because of the partnership between the two companies, you can effortlessly combine the two services to enhance your viewing experience. But with ShowMax, you have to settle for lower quality streaming, on average 720p.

Try a 14-day free ShowMax trial.

DStv vs Netflix vs Showmax Best TV South Africa

Remember Digital Providers Use A Lot of Data

If you are considering completely breaking away from satellite television and only subscribing to Netflix or ShowMax, you must invest in a good data package. Uncapped is highly recommended to make sure you don’t receive an unexpected high bill.

A 22-minute HD series episode will consume about 400MB and a HD movie roughly 1GB to 1.5GB. Your internet connection also needs to be good. To stream a standard ShowMax show to just one device at a time, you will need a 2MB line or higher. If you want to stream a HD show to multiple devices, you need at least a 4MB line.

How to Decide Between Satellite Television and Digital Providers

It all depends on what you like watching. If you are big fan of a few specific series and you’ve got a good internet connection, you could consider cancelling your DStv subscription. But if you are for instance a big sports fanatic, it’s best to keep your subscription and DSTV installation. And in this case, ShowMax can be a nice addition.

On the DStv Compact or Compact Plus packages, a ShowMax subscription will only cost you R49 per month. It’s included for free in a DStv Premium package. Other packages will pay the usual fee of R99 per month. ShowMax can be added to any decoder qualify. But the DStv Explora decoder can be directly used as a streaming device if it is connected to the internet.

How to Connect ShowMax for Free to Your DSTV Account

If you’ve activated a DStv Premium package, you automatically have access to ShowMax. Next all you need is a good internet connection and a robust data deal to enjoy the extra content. Let the binge series watching begin!

Step 1: create a ShowMax account

To add this great extra feature, create a ShowMax account. Click here.

Step 2: specify payment option

Follow the steps and select the “Add to DStv account” instead of your banking details. Type in your DStv login details, using your Connect ID as verification.

Step 3: accept the Terms and Conditions

Read the terms and conditions and tick the accept box. And you are ready to start watching ShowMax!

How to Access ShowMax On DStv Explora

After you’ve activated your ShowMax account and connected your decoder to the internet, press the blue DStv button. Next scroll until you see the “Watch Now” option and select ShowMax. You can scroll through the content with the left and right arrows. Similar to a DStv program you can press the “i” for more information or press the “OK” button to start watching a show or movie.

The More, The Merrier

We would definitely recommend adding ShowMax to your DStv subscription. It’s a great way to make full use of your decoder and access great content, catering to your specific needs. If you are still unsure about how to connect ShowMax to your decoder, chat to one of our experienced DStv installers.

Contact us now.

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