DStv Now, Netflix or ShowMax?

With so many choices for entertainment on Internet TV, how do you know whether you’re making the right one for your household, tastes and budget? All the heavy lifting has been done for you to guide this decision. Remember, though, that no matter which service you use, you need 4 Mbps or more to watch series with little or no buffering, and streaming is data-heavy. Also, you need to be aware of data costs, which can be high. Uncapped Wi-Fi is recommended so the entire family can enjoy their favourite shows without any complaints.

DSTV NOW

THE GOOD

  • You can access it from your cellphone, tablet or computer
  • You can stream live internet TV (not all channels and programmes, but the offering is good) – great for watching rugby while you braai 
  • You can easily search for any programmes on the DStv schedule
  • You can schedule recordings on your Explora from the app (you need an optional Internet explorer linked to Explora)
  • You can watch all Catch Up titles
  • You can download titles to watch offline, for example, when you’re on a plane for a family holiday or have no Wi-Fi connectivity
  • You can access information about your DStv account, fix errors and get statements
  • You can link four devices to one account and watch on all four devices at the same time – this way the kids are kept happy and you don’t have to watch their animated or teen-angst shows
  • You can set reminders for programmes from the app – great for the busy household
  • The programmes on offer are current
  • There is plenty of local content available

THE BAD

  • You can’t stream programmes from your mobile device to your Apple TV or Smart TV
  • You need a DStv Premium subscription (R759 per month) to get access
  • Recent episodes of a series are available but the season is incomplete

THE VERDICT

  • It’s a digital video store with live TV and channels, but access is quite expensive 

NETFLIX

THE GOOD

  • You get the first month’s viewing free
  • It offers various pricing options: R130 per month (one screen), R165 per month (two screens), R200 per month (four screens)
  • It works on your phone, tablet, computer, Apple TV, Chrome etc
  • You can stream from your mobile device to your Apple TV, Smart TV etc
  • Some series, movies, programmes and documentaries are shot exclusively for Netflix
  • You can set profiles (for example Me, Husband, Daughter, Son)
  • It makes viewing recommendations according to what you’ve watched before – this is great for finding new shows to watch with your family
  • Complete series are available

THE BAD

  • There are fewer titles on offer in South Africa than in other countries and you can’t download titles to watch offline
  • The latest season of a series is not always available – some go to TV first
  • It’s difficult to stop watching after just one episode – and you know you need your sleep, but it’s just so good! (Not great when you have to get up early for work and get the kids ready for school)
  • Local content? What local content?

THE VERDICT

  • It’s more convenient than going to the DVD store, but we hate the fact that there are fewer titles on offer in South Africa

SHOWMAX

THE GOOD

  • It costs only R99 per month
  • It can connect up to five devices on one account – great for everyone in the family to get a slice of the ShowMax pie
  • It works on a phone internet tv, tablet, computer, Apple TV, Google Chrome etc
  • Most of the titles missing from Netflix SA are available here and there is local content
  • Complete series are available, but this can also fall under ‘The Bad’ because it doesn’t update with the latest episodes

THE BAD

  • You only get a seven-day free trial
  • The great Netflix-exclusive content is not available here
  • You can’t set different profiles for everyone at home
  • The recommendations aren’t particularly helpful for new shows
  • There is no sport or news content to catch up on in the evening or during a braai

THE VERDICT

  • Put it this way: even the guy who owns the DVD store down the road has a ShowMax subscription
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