SA streaming services compared

Streaming isn’t replacing TV – yet! But it could become the only place to find your favourite TV show in the years ahead. With the help of expert Thinus Ferreira, we investigated 11 streaming services in South Africa to find out what they offer and what they cost to help you decide which option could work for you!

Getting started

Thinus says you should spend some time investigating services and exploring the content each platform offers before subscribing. Don’t assume a platform is right for you – see what it offers first! And where there are free trial periods, use them to see if you want to use the service in future.

Thinus advises users to follow the three Cs: Card, Cancel and Connect:

  • Card: Buy a gift card before signing up for a subscription to see if you enjoy the service. This allows you to use the service without committing to a monthly payment, and there is no danger of forgetting to cancel a subscription or debit order! You can buy gift cards online, such as a R250 gift card for Netflix.
  • Cancel when you are not watching: Most services allow you to cancel at any time, when the current subscription ends. Use this to your advantage – sign up for the months when there are shows you want to watch and cancel the months when you won’t be watching any content.
  • Connection: Make sure your connection is reliable and fast enough for the service. Uncapped or unlimited data is best, and speeds of 5-10MBps or faster are recommended.

What does it cost?

There are three costs to budget for:

  1. The subscription, such as R179 a month for Netflix. This is usually an automatic renewal month to month, and can be cancelled at any time, but the current month’s fee won’t be refunded.
  2. Data costs, which are the costs to livestream and/or download. These costs vary depending on your data package and the actual content viewed. “If you stream a detailed production or fast moving sports event you will use more data than if you stream snooker!,” says Thinus.
    According to Netflix, an hour of streaming can use between 1GB and 3GB.If you don’t have uncapped data and you watch a lot, you could spend more on data than on the subscription. Be careful of saving on costs by sharing a subscription, where you take one subscription for your family, and different family members watch content at the same time on different devices.  If your internet speed is not ultraquick, or your internet connection isn’t stable, you may end up viewing in slow-mo, with lots of buffering, because there are so many users!
  3. Equipment. You may have to purchase equipment such as a smart TV (from around R3 000) or Android box to connect your TV to the internet (from R350) or DStv Explora Ultra that allows you to access streaming services via your decoder (R1 600–R2 200). Thinus says that as a rule of thumb, if your device has a screen and can access data or connect to Wi-Fi, you will be able to use a streaming service on it.

Can you save on these costs?

Remember to investigate any loyalty and partner programme special offers and promotions. For example, MTN has a promotion with Showmax on offer at the moment. Your bank or internet service provider may also have special offers from time to time. You can find these on the streaming service’s website.

ServiceCost per month, may vary depending on bundle chosenFree trial, subscription periodsYou’ll like this if..

Showmax

R39 to R449 for Showmax Pro (with sport)

Included in some DStv packages

Free trial period

Monthly subscription

You like local drama, want a wide range of international shows and documentaries, and sport

Netflix

R49 to R199 a month

Monthly subscription

Gift cards available

You want top quality international shows such as Squid Game, The Crown and Bridgerton

Amazon Prime

R79 a month

Free trial period

Monthly subscription

You want to watch a specific Amazon Prime series such as Fleabag and The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

Apple TV+

R84.99, R849 a year

Free trial period

Monthly and annual subscription options

You want to watch Apple originals such as the Oprah talk show, Ted Lasso and The Morning Show

eVOD

Free, R5 per day to R29.99 per month

Daily and monthly subscription options

You love local soaps and want to watch them before release, – and if you love Turkish novellas

TelkomONE

R4 per day to R49 per month

Daily, weekly, monthly subscription options

You enjoy local content and want to watch old news channel reports

Britbox

R99 a month, R999 a year

Free trial

Monthly or annual subscription

You like British drama such as Line of Duty and Luther

VIU

R5 per day to R69 a month

Daily, weekly, monthly subscription options

You enjoy etv and SABC shows such as Giyani, Scandal and The Estate, and Bollywood content

Vodacom video play

R5 a day to R99 a month

Daily, weekly, monthly subscription options

You like local content and some Nollywood

Acorn TV

R79 a month

Free trial

Monthly subscription

You love British content, especially older series such as The Prime or Miss Jean Brodie

Marquee TV

R179.99 a month

Monthly and annual subscription options

Gift cards available

You love classical music, philharmonic orchestras, opera and the ballet

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