ShowMax is stepping up its pan-African battle with Netflix by putting servers in Kenya

Who takes the throne?
Who takes the throne?
Image: HBO
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In the battle to become the preferred video content streaming service by a majority of Africans, content servers are the weapon of choice.

Last October, Netflix deployed a new server which was expected to hold the entire Netflix content library in Nigeria in a bid to improve its service for African customers. Now, barely three months later, ShowMax, the video-on-demand (VOD) service owned by South Africa-based Naspers, Africa’s largest media company, is adding to its local server capacity as well. ShowMax has confirmed it will host caching servers in Nairobi, Kenya in partnership with Seacom,  a pan-African data service provider.

The “net effect” of the move, Mike Raath, ShowMax’s head of distribution, says, “is that customers can pull video content from much closer to home, which means faster response time and less buffering.” With content servers in Kenya and data requests moving over shorter distances, ShowMax customers in the 15 eastern Africa countries where the service is available will see content delivered much faster and at cheaper costs. Raath also says the deployment of servers in Nairobi is a precursor to ShowMax’s plans for “further expansion” in East Africa.

Ultimately, the deployment of more servers on the continent is great for African video content consumers and internet users in general.  With a majority of content accessed by Africans being loaded from servers in other continents, more local servers will translate to a richer and less disruptive online experience.

While being a predominantly African service, ShowMax has not hidden a desire to compete globally. Offering a range of African content which likely appeals to the African diaspora in addition to popular American TV shows like Game of Thrones, the service is now available on three continents outside Africa.