MultiChoice snubs Showmax subscribers in South Africa
While Showmax has started airing House of the Dragon, HBO’s hit Game of Thrones spin-off, in several African countries, South Africans have nowhere to watch the show legally other than DStv Premium.
The MultiChoice-owned streaming service put on the first episode of House of the Dragon on Showmax in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria on August 24, 2022, two days after its premiere on DStv.
The following episodes were uploaded every Monday, directly from the United States.
South Africans can still only catch it on DStv Premium via set-top box or online streaming, which costs between R699 and R839 per month.
For comparison, Showmax normally costs R99 per month for a standard subscription or R39 for a mobile plan.
The omission of House of the Dragon from the Showmax South Africa library is curious, given that HBO content – often loaded shortly after airing in the US – is one of the service’s biggest drawing cards.
Several South African Showmax subscribers have complained about his absence from the service.
A Twitter user even claims that the company had put up a billboard announcing that the series would be available on Showmax from August 26, 2022.
In response, showmax said the show would only be available in South Africa “by the end of the year, with the exact date yet to be announced”.
In other comments, the company explained that the series was not available on Showmax in South Africa due to “licensing agreements”.
One explanation is that MultiChoice had paid for the House of the Dragon broadcast rights in South Africa, but not the broadcast rights.
However, that wouldn’t explain how the show is available on-demand through its DStv online streaming service.
The company said to Memeburn the show’s release was done with a “windowing strategy,” which is different from what she told Twitter users.
This would suggest that MultiChoice is deliberately keeping it off Showmax in South Africa despite owning the broadcast rights.
MyBroadband asked MultiChoice why it hasn’t made House of the Dragon available to stream on Showmax like it usually does with its other HBO shows. He did not provide comment at the time of publication.
Broadcasting Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA) data shared with TV journalist Thinus Ferreira revealed that the show played poorly when it debuted on DStv, attracting only a few thousand viewers.
By comparison, linear broadcasts of the UK and US premiere drew millions of viewers.
Although more people have probably watched the show on DStv Catchup – online and through their set-top boxes – MultiChoice would not respond to questions from MyBroadband seeking comment on this.
Limiting the show to DStv Premium is unlikely to attract many additional subscribers to the pay-TV service.
Since the first season will have ten episodes, it will take place over two months.
That means people would have to pay three months of DStv to watch the whole season.
Paying between 2,100 and 2,500 rand for the sole purpose of watching a popular TV show would not make sense for most households.
Some people can piggyback on a friend or relative’s subscription, but it’s also difficult after DStv has limited the number of simultaneous streams on all its one-to-one plans.
Streaming services have helped encourage people not to pirate TV shows and movies, making them simple and convenient to watch at a reasonable price.
But without an affordable way to legally watch the wanted show, some South Africans might turn to an “old friend” – BitTorrent.
Game of Thrones has consistently been one of the most pirated TV shows in the world over its eight seasons, which aired between 2011 and 2019.
According to TorrentFreakthe show holds the record for the largest torrent swarm and episode releases have boosted global piracy traffic.
House of the Dragon has already proven popular on torrent sites.
Its first episode was leaked a day before its premiere and downloaded hundreds of thousands of times within hours.