Showmax 2.0 – Is this it?

A new lick of paint and a new partnership with NBCUniversal have been the points Showmax has been hammering home in its advertising in the lead-up to the platform’s relaunch.

Gone is the blue and pink replaced by a burnt orange and a stylised X as the logo. We never thought we’d miss the blue era of tech. Subscribers are also promised a new mix of content from HBO, NBC, Universal, Sky, Sony, Paramount+ and several MultiChoice properties.

All the new partners are neatly in a row.

However, much like its original launch back in 2015, this new Showmax 2.0 leaves much to be desired.

Subscribers won’t have to wait long to experience this update as the process is already underway. At the weekend, we received the update and we feel like the reason Showmax Entertainment’s price dropped, was simply because there isn’t much here.

First, for newcomers, Showmax has been around for nine years now. Originally launched in South Africa, the streaming platform is now available in 40 markets. A few years after launch, MultiChoice announced Showmax Pro. This subscription tier unlocked live sports, live news and included the catalogue of series and movies Showmax had amassed.

It was, in our opinion, excellent, especially in South Africa where the entertainment landscape is dominated by DStv. Whether live sport or the latest content, a DStv subscription was almost a requirement for most South Africans who wanted the best-in-class entertainment. Showmax Pro changed that for the better. While its live sports offering was limited, it was more affordable than a full-fat DStv subscription and now and then viewers would get access to big ticket finals or entire tournaments.

With the new Showmax, there is no live news, that offer is gone. Live sport is now limited to the Premier League and restricted to viewing on mobile exclusively. Why is this? Showmax 2.0 isn’t saying but our educated guess is that DStv wants to be the exclusive portal for all things sport on a big screen. It’s also plausible that DStv owns the rights to broadcasting via the web for TVs and apps and can’t share these with Showmax as it’s now owned by a conglomerate of companies and not just MultiChoice.

Whatever the reason, removing sports, a shining beacon for Showmax was a silly decision that will surely cost the platform a few subscribers. Perhaps MultiChoice will court more sports fans this way but that’s a big if.

We also have to highlight a complete lack of a 4K streaming option. While we understand that streaming in 4K is rather data-intensive, we can’t ignore that the option to stream in 4K is absent. In an era where 4K TVs are more commonplace than FullHD TVs, the omission is very noticeable and content does look a bit fuzzy on large screens with high native resolutions. Any upscaling tech will be working overtime to make things crisp.

We then have an open question for somebody at Showmax 2.0, who’s bright idea was it to put the volume adjustment on its own in the top-right corner of the player window? All the controls are located in the bottom deck, except for volume. It’s not the biggest issue but it’s a gripe for sure.

Why is the volume control somewhere else on the Showmax website?

As for the content, while there are a few new series and movies, there doesn’t seem to be an influx of new stuff. Showmax already had a decent spread of movies and series and at least that has been somewhat maintained. There are plans to expand on Showmax Originals which is great but those will take time to hit the platform.

The UI of Showmax 2.0 is also void of any way to arrange content by genre. There are panels you can scroll through but we’d have loved a way to see all movies and series that fall under Comedy or Thriller.

One can’t even click on the genre displayed on a piece of content to see all of the content in that genre. It’s a silly and irritating omission that’s only going to frustrate users.

All this rebranding then, is just a rebranding.

The platform itself still has the same pitfalls the old Showmax had, only now with no Pro option on offer and football streaming reduced to mobile only. The user interface is fine at first glance but as you use the platform you discover more omissions and oddities. Unfortunately for Showmax, other streaming platforms are simply better and offer more value than whatever this is. Maybe we’re mistaken if somebody tells us our experience is going to improve, we expect improvements, not just a port of the old system to a newer system.

Our advice – as with all streaming platforms – is to consider subscribing to Showmax when it has content you want to watch and then suspending that subscription.

This opinion could change but having had a taste of this “upgrade” we’re canceling our subscription before the next billing cycle. Even if the subscription is now R10 cheaper at R89 per month, we’d rather put that money into removing ads from Prime Video.


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