ShowMax tackles buffer and pixelation issues

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The video streaming market is a tough nut to crack on a good day, so when Naspers launched its ShowMax service just over a month ago, we were rather excited to take it for a spin.

What we found sadly, was that plenty of the videos would stutter a lot and the audio didn’t quite synch up. In a blog post by John Kotsaftis, the GM of ShowMax South Africa, it seems that those issues have now been smoothed out.

“The buffering and pixelation issue was tackled by lighting up some new front-end server caches in South Africa. Our primary hosting location is offshore and the network latency to and from South Africa can be quite extreme (300ms plus RTT for those techies out there!). We also did some optimisation work on our CDN (content delivery network), which really helped,” he wrote.

He added: “Of course, it wouldn’t be a new product launch if we didn’t have a few headaches.”

The service is available on almost every platform that can connect to the internet, including smart televisions. Kotsaftis knew the service would be popular, but the popularity in the use of the smart television apps is something ShowMax didn’t predict.

“One of the biggest surprises so far has been the popularity of the smart TV apps, particularly the Samsung app. We expected that ShowMax would lend itself to lean-forward viewing on phones and tablets, but clearly lean-back viewing is also popular.”

The smart television app proved that users like to sit on the couch and watch television, instead of being hunched over a small screen. This development has caused ShowMax to develop Chromecast and Apple TV apps at a much faster development rate than planned.

“For the lean-back crowd we were already busy on Chromecast support in our Android app and an Apple TV app. I’ve asked the team to redouble their efforts to get both up and running before the end of the year,” Kotsaftis wrote.

For the viewers who complained that the service doesn’t have any options like ‘Resume playing’ or suggested viewing, there is some good news.

“Product functionality has been another hot topic and we’ve been listening. Features like watched indicators (i.e. what have I watched), suggested next episodes, and continuous play are all in the works. You’ll see these rolling out in the coming weeks across the apps and browsers.”

In conclusion, Kotsaftis said that he is aware that ShowMax doesn’t have all the shows that people want, but sometimes the cost involved in bringing them to viewers are just too high.

“I can’t see anyone cracking the everything-in-one-spot model. What I can say is that we already have a huge library – we’re closing in on the 20 000 episode mark.”

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