Netflix and Disney have a major disadvantage in Africa’s streaming wars

Showmax is a popular local streaming service.
Showmax is a popular local streaming service.
Image: Showmax
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The number of subscription video-on-demand users in Africa is projected to reach more than 5 million by the end of this year, and triple to 15 million by 2026, according to a new projection by Digital TV Research, a London-based business intelligence company.

Netflix is expected to have the highest number of subscribers both at the end of this year, at 2.61 million, and by 2026, when it is anticipated to have around 5.84 million. But its market share will decline, as it competes with international and domestic platforms fighting for eyeballs in the continent

Disney+ is not expected to officially launch in the continent until 2022, and even then only in 12 countries. Digital TV Research expects it to attract around 2 million paying subscribers forecast by 2026.

The trajectory of this growth signals an advantage for local players such as Showmax and MyCanal, the firm writes.

“The selective launch plans from some global platforms works in favor of regional players,” Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said in the report.

Local video streaming platforms like Showmax already have a head start, and they are gaining traction. In addition, local media companies are investing in new video streaming services, meaning the audience may be further distributed among more service providers.

More African consumers are paying for streaming content

Africa’s entertainment space, including video streaming services, is in a rapid growth phase. Spurred by a young population and increasing internet connectivity, it is gaining a larger audience and receiving record amounts of funding.

One of the earliest entrants in video streaming in the continent in 2011 was irokotv , which shows Nollywood films. Today, Showmax, which has both local and foreign content, is a dominant local player. It was launched in 2016.

Foreign entertainment companies have looked to tap into local markets, with Netflix arriving in 2016 and Amazon Prime Video last year. Netflix is customizing content for the region, with African originals such as King of Boys, Nigeria’s first original series for the streaming platform which debuts this month.

With a population of more than 1 billion people, Africa presents a potential significant audience for foreign video streaming services, although perhaps not at the rate of growth which other regions present. Globally, Netflix has about 208 million subscribers, while Disney+ has 116 million.

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