In the past year, most of the world leading Video on Demand services have been on an expansion competition. Netflix shocked many with their impressive January 2016 expansion to basically the whole world. It was big news. I bet most of you can remember all the unfounded rhetoric Kenyan “experts” made about Netflix coming to Kenya.

Then in October 2016 Showmax in a sort of partnership with Safaricom launched in Kenya to a lot of media hype. I wrote this article where I felt Netflix was the better option. That has since changed. Safaricom announced Showmax Video bundles where for as much/little as KES 1700 you can get 7.5GB for video streaming.

December 2016 Amazon Prime Video re-did the Netflix expansion to over 200 countries. But this remains the only service I haven’t signed up for. Don’t know why. Maybe they haven’t hyped it enough. If you have an Amazon account with a card, then you are good to go. If you’re on Amazon Prime, you don’t need to pay anything extra.

Last month, August 2017, iflix announced their entrance to the Kenyan market. They are an emerging markets focused service. Forget about their obviously not unique name, they have the best prices currently and claim over 170 studio and distributor partnerships.

So how do they compare? If you were to sign up for either, how would you make your decision? Personally, price would come first, then the library. A good library for me would be one with more local and original content. Original content is key because without it, then all libraries would look the same.

I have compressed the information below into a full table comparing everything here: https://tech-ish.com/2017/09/11/video-on-demand-services-in-kenya-comparison/


Price:

Per month pricing according to latest USD rates

  • Netflix has three tiers; Basic at Ksh. 822, Standard at Ksh. 1027 and Premium at Ksh. 1233. Difference in the three is in HD quality and number of devices one can use at once.
  • Showmax has two tiers; Select at Ksh. 330 with more local content and optimised quality to save data and Premium at Ksh. 880 with access to full library
  • Amazon Prime Video had one price, Ksh. 616, for everything. However you’ll pay Ksh. 307 for first 6 months
  • iflix has one price, Ksh. 260 for everything.

Showmax is the only one here that allows you to pay via Mpesa.

Incentives:

  • Netflix: One month free, cancel any time, download select shows for offline viewing
  • Showmax: 14 day free trial, Pay using Mpesa, Safaricom Video Bundles, Buy 3 months on Mpesa for Ksh. 250, Optimised content to save you 75% data, Download 25 shows on Smartphone that expire after one month, Cancel anytime
  • Amazon Prime Video: 7 day free trial, Ksh. 307 first 6 months then normal, Amazon Prime users access for free, Control data usage, Up to 3 devices at once, Download content on the go for offline access, Twitch Prime membership included for free
  • iflix: 30 day free trial (no card, no nothing), Up to 5 devices at once, Cheapest, Download any content for offline access

Local Content:

  • Netflix: Nah
  • Showmax: King of local content with endless classics and new content. Auntie Boss, Real Househelps of Kawangware, Vitimbi, Naswa etc
  • Amazon: Nah
  • iflix: Local content like Veve, Mchungaji, Ni Sisi etc

Original Content: 

  • Netflix: King of original shows and worldwide hit series Narcos, Sense8, Stranger Things, The Crown etc.
  • Showmax: Started out on Originals this year
  • Amazon: A lot of original shows including The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, and Transparent
  • iflix: Exclusive content from Kenya, Tanzania and the rest of Africa, India and rest of Asia that’s “only on iflix”

Worldwide Library:

  • Netflix: Huge ever changing library
  • Showmax: Big library. But issue here is some series are only available after they’ve already aired on other services.
  • Amazon: Huge library.
  • iflix: Big library containing worldwide content

All of them have Kids shows and you can switch and control access for kids to avoid them accessing other shows.

Amazon Prime and Netflix lag behind on local content. Showmax leads on incentives and their partnership with Safaricom makes everything the more easier for most people to sign up. On the other hand, the best in terms of affordability is iflix.

I still haven’t figured out how to pay subscription on iflix as since I signed up, I’m still on trial.

What are your thoughts? Which of the above will be your go to streaming service? Do you consider Internet TV to be better than DSTv?

Internet access in Kenya is getting cheaper and faster every day, remember. Safaricom fibre is now in over 81,000 homes across Kenya, and they are still expanding. There’s also 4G internet by Telkom and you get 1GB free every day.

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