Naspers Ltd., Africa’s largest company by market value, plans to enable customers of its ShowMax service to download movies and TV shows such as “Game of Thrones” without having to use prohibitively expensive live Internet streaming, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The $53 billion media company is rolling out the video-on-demand offering from South Africa to target about 1 billion consumers on the world’s least-connected, most populated continent. Challenges to the strategy include a scarcity of fixed-line Internet and the high cost of high-speed data, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because details of the plan are private. The Cape Town-based company is also opening an office in Dubai as it seeks to grow the service, according to the person.
“ShowMax is only available as a streaming service at present,” the Naspers unit said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We’re exploring a number of future product enhancements.”
Naspers Chief Executive Officer Bob van Dijk sees the expansion of ShowMax as a priority for the company, he said in an interview on Aug. 28. He wants the service to counter the growth of U.S. rival Netflix Inc., which plans to expand into as many as 200 countries -- including in Africa -- by the end of next year. Naspers’ move into video-on-demand is the latest evolution of 100-year-old publisher of Afrikaans-language newspapers, now an investor in emerging market tech startups.