So at long last streaming video services are now properly available in South Africa.

This of course means that I then needed to make a choice, because we don’t actually have DSTV (too expensive and I don’t watch the sport needed to vindicate having it), but we do have Internet access!

the it crowd

After some investigation, the only two real options boiled down to either the fresh faced Naspers-owned ShowMax, or the global heavy hitter, Netflix. (Note: I’m not in the market for geo-unblocking VPN services. I don’t want the extra hassle of still dealing with all of that!)

After evaluating both of them, I came up with the following conclusion. ShowMax has by far the newer, more relevant, more interesting show line-up, whilst Neflix has by far the better apps and technical infrastructure.

Over time, I’m sure ShowMax’s apps will get better, and its video streaming technology will catch up, whilst Netflix’s content should improve once its catalog licencing to Multichoice (and thus ShowMax by virtue of the shared lineage) lapses.

Considering the fact that I’m not a big TV watcher (nor is Chantelle for that matter), most of the Netflix catalogue is actually new to us both, so given the fact that I have both an Xbox 360 and an Xbox One setup for the televisions in the house, and the fact that Netflix runs so smoothly over both those platforms, I’ve opted to go for the more technically sound Netflix streaming video option – the experience of which by the way has me so far pretty much smiling from ear to ear.

netflix screen selection layout

For $7,99 per month (I can up it to $9,99 if I want to add extra screens and HD – for now I’m still trialing it…) I get four distinct user profiles, one for myself, Chantelle, Jessica and Emily. This means that everyone has their own unique playlist with suggested shows, suitably tailored to taste and viewing history. (In other words, I can have comedies and documentaries suggested to me, while Chantelle can stick to all the real proper TV stuff!)

The adaptive streaming works fantastically well, and I have yet to experience any buffering issues on my rather paltry 4MB ADSL line – the only break I have experienced thus far was when our Internet briefly went down!

The on demand aspect of streaming video is by far my favourite feature. Long gone are the days of sitting down at a preset time once a week to catch a show – no, I far prefer the freedom and flexibility to sit down when I finally get a chance to breath and take a moment for myself, pick something that I actually want to watch, and shock horror – watch it.

So far so good. Now it is just a matter of seeing how long it takes for Netflix to start throwing a bit more (and slightly fresher) content at us!

Related Link: Netflix