Naspers Said to Plan Showmax Expansion to Take on Netflix

  • The $65 billion media group agrees to partnership with Samsung
  • Showmax to target 15 million customers outside South Africa

Naspers Ltd., Africa’s biggest company by market value, is planning to expand its video-streaming competitor to Netflix Inc. into three new continents next year while Samsung Electronics Co. has agreed to include the service on its smart TVs, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The company will target more than 15 million customers outside its home market of South Africa, providing content across Europe, North America and Australasia, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The service, called Showmax, will provide Afrikaans content in international markets next month and west African shows next year, according to the person.

Naspers Chief Executive Officer Bob van Dijk is overseeing the expansion of ShowMax across Africa and beyond as Netflix targets 200 countries next year. The move into online streaming is the latest evolution of a South African business that started as a newspaper publisher and is now an investor in emerging-market startups including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and India’s Ibibo.

Bob Van Dijk
Bob Van Dijk
Photographer: Graeme Williams/Bloomberg

A Showmax representative declined to comment. Samsung representatives declined to comment in an e-mail.

Naspers shares gained as much 1.6 percent to the highest on record and traded 1.4 percent higher at 2,230 rand as of 12:56 p.m. in Johannesburg.

Showmax has signed distribution partnerships in South Africa with Samsung and Telkom SA SOC Ltd., the country’s largest fixed-line operator, according to the person. The company is also in partnership talks with Vodacom Group Ltd., the South African unit of Vodafone Group Plc, and is exploring further expansion in sub-Saharan Africa, said the person.

Naspers, which has a market value of $65 billion and is Africa’s largest pay-TV provider, is competing with Ericsson AB’s NuVu and PCCW Ltd.’s OnTAPTV video-on-demand services on the continent as well as Netflix. Streaming services are targeting Africa as wireless networks become more widespread and reliable, allowing the delivery of video in a region where landlines are scarce.