A couple of things first: I believe, and I know most of you do too, that the future of TV is online and most probably, on our smartphones.

A big percent of the content you watch nowadays, you do through your phone. Whether it is an episode of your fav series, or a video that went viral, or a new music video. And that’s the reason why we are seeing many companies try to get us to use their video services.

We all know or have heard of Netflix. They spread worldwide literally like bush fire. And I enjoyed my first month free. I keep telling myself that I’ll renew my subscription sometime in future.

ShowMax is like Netflix I would say. They offer movies and series.

Some weeks ago, they launched in Kenya through a collaboration with Safaricom.

When I heard of a collaboration, I initially thought it meant Safaricom would be catering for the data needed to watch movies/series. I was wrong. The collaboration is simple: ShowMax have a Paybill number with Safaricom where you pay for your subscription using M-Pesa. Which is probably the first time we are seeing a big company allowing Kenyans to Lipa na Mpesa instead of the usual cards and Paypal.

showmax-subscriptionI found it much easier to subscribe to ShowMax than to Netflix because of Lipa na M-Pesa. And I believe this is something that will make ShowMax have a bigger reach compared to Netflix.

Update: Apparently there’s 7 days free trial. But you get this after payment. Not before. That makes no sense! And only Card and Paypal payments get the free 7 days. MPesa users don’t. What the hell?

There are two bouquets: Ksh. 330 or Ksh. 880 per month. The 330 offers selected content for you while the 880 bouquet offers you the whole ShowMax library. Naturally, I decided to try out the whole library.

At first I felt disappointed. The worldwide library felt smaller than I expected. Then I realised it is just the design. It doesn’t give you the appeal of something big. I felt like one kind of needs to beforehand, know what they are looking for to actually find it.

Seeing as ShowMax is a big name, I really expected my front page to be beautifully filled with their biggest content. Maybe the way I usually feel when I open up Netflix.

The user interface isn’t complicated. I have discovered they have a lot of movies, documentaries and endless TV shows. From Suits to the Big Bang Theory and to the delight of some of my friends, Pretty Little Liars. Other big shows I noticed include Silicon Valley, Dexter, The Good Wife, Luther, Downton Abbey, Switched at Birth etc.

There’s also Kenyan content including Gavana, Mweshimiwa, Vitimbi and Bebabeba. And if you love Nollywood, you’ll find movies and shows included too.

What however still doesn’t feel right to me is the fact that most of their offerings in terms of TV shows don’t have the latest seasons or episodes. Why?

showmax-mobile-appI cannot say either Netflix or ShowMax is better. It depends on one’s preferences.

But if asked to choose, I’d definitely go with Netflix as their original content – Narcos, House of Cards, Stranger Things, Sense8 and even their latest The Crown – are really good shows.

ShowMax, you should know, allows you to download (with some monthly limits) episodes to watch later. Which is a big thing if you don’t have the bundles to stream and can only access high speed Wi-Fi during certain periods of the day.

Here are the good and bad stuff with ShowMax

The Good:

  • Easy paying subscription through MPesa
  • Android App allows downloads
  • Setting bandwidth allowed so as to cap data used during streaming
  • Kenyan hit series and comedies available
  • Other African movies and series available

The Bad:

  • Lack of properly defined trial period
  • Desktop and Mobile app design needs work
  • Accessing collection in terms of popular, new, etc is a problem
  • No refunds once paid
  • Signing in to app is a problem

So, what do you think about ShowMax? Do you feel it is something you can try out?