Netflix vs. Showmax in Kenya - All you need to know
The Kenyan online streaming scene is one of the best sources of content to quench your viewing needs.
Thanks to the rapid growth of internet connectivity within Kenya, streaming content online is not only possible, it’s the main source of entertainment for many Kenyans.
Gone are the days when you had to rely on KBC and KTN for both news and programs. For anyone born after 2000, it’s hard to imagine that KBC once had an opening and closing time for airing.
Thanks to the internet, you can watch your favourite series and movies online through your phone or Smart TV.
Two of the most popular online streaming services in Kenya are Netflix and Showmax. Both platforms have quite a wide library of movies and series that you can watch on demand.
Although Netflix and Showmax are both streaming services, they differ in the type of content available as well as pricing, accessibility and membership options. Let’s explore each platform in more detail.
Netflix is an American online subscription service that distributes films and TV series worldwide. The company was founded in 1997. Back then, Netflix sent out DVDs to customers by mail.
The company successfully leveraged the growth of the internet and enhanced technology to evolve into the largest streaming service (in terms of paid memberships) in the world.
To access Netflix in Kenya, you’ll need to sign up at netflix.com using your email address. Once you create an account, you’ll then need to select and pay for a subscription plan in order to access your content. Below are the current Netflix plans and their features.
Currently, you can only make payments for Netflix through debit and credit cards with logos for Visa, MasterCard and American Express. At the moment, you can’t pay for Netflix in Kenya using M-Pesa.
The majority of modern Smart TVs come with the Netflix app pre-installed. You can easily download the Netflix app on your smartphone and tablet as well.
The main disadvantage of Netflix in Kenya is the lack of M-Pesa support. If you have a card, then this won’t be an issue. You could also use the M-Pesa virtual card but the charges on this option are too high for our liking.
Another shortcoming that Netflix suffers from is the limited selection of local TV series and movies. While the platform is constantly updating its library, Showmax is currently the undisputed king of local Kenyan content among online streaming companies.
Netflix also introduced a limitation on the sharing of passwords in 2023. This means you can only share your Netflix account with people using the same Wi-Fi network (basically your close family members only and people you live with).
- Wide selection of international content
- Frequently updated library
- Strict account-sharing restrictions
- No M-Pesa support in Kenya although you can use M-Pesa global to pay
Showmax is a South African online subscription service that was launched in 2015. Similar to Netflix, Showmax distributes films and TV series online.
Showmax recently replaced its old app with a completely new one in February 2024. The company also rebranded its website, logo and packages.
The main difference between Netflix and Showmax is the content strategy. Showmax uses a localisation strategy which entails focusing on local content. Compared to Netflix, Showmax has a much wider variety of local TV series and movies.
Showmax aired the popular reality show Real Housewives of Nairobi. Other popular local series on Shomax are Njoro wa Uba, Single Kiasi, Second Family and A Better Life, just to name a few.
To access Showmax in Kenya, you’ll need to sign up at showmax.com using your email address. Once you create an account, you can choose a viewership plan that best suites you from the options below:
If you love football, Showmax has live football streaming available in its PL Mobile plan. This is a major advantage over Netflix, which doesn’t offer any live sports.
Another advantage Showmax has over Netflix is the support for M-Pesa payments. This makes paying for Showmax so much easier for most Kenyans.
November 2023 Update:
Showmax recently upgraded its viewing plans by removing the Showmax Pro plan that was priced at Kshs. 2,100. This plan allowed you to watch Premier League matches on your computer or Smart TV through the Showmax app.
February 2024 Update:
As mentioned above, Showmax has rebranded its website and released a new app that replaces the old one. If you were an existing user of the old app, all you need to do is download the new app and log in with your old credentials. New users will need to sign up for the new app.
Showmax has also made changes to its packages in terms of pricing. The basic package has been replaced with a Standard plan that goes for Kshs. 650, down from Kshs. 750. This package allows you to watch movies and TV shows on all your devices.
If you’re really on a tight budget, Showmax has maintained its mobile-only entertainment package for Kshs. 300. For football lovers, you can watch EPL matches by signing up for the mobile-only Premier League plan for Kshs. 500.
Showmax now also has bundle packages. For Kshs. 700, you’ll be able to access movies, TV shows and premier league matches on your mobile.
For Kshs. 1,000, you’ll get access to movies and series on all devices and access to premier league matches on your mobile.
For now, if you want to watch live EPL matches, your only option is to watch on your smartphone by signing up for the Showmax Premier League Mobile plan priced at Kshs. 500 per month or take up the bundle package to get access to movies and series on all devices plus the mobile-only premier league matches for Kshs. 1,000.
This is sad news for many of us and doesn’t make much sense in our opinion. Who wants to watch a live match on a small screen? Worse still, imagine the neck damage you’ll incur and the discomfort of having to hold your phone for 90 minutes plus half-time and extra time!
Hopefully, sanity will prevail and the Pro plan will be brought back in the near future to enable us all to enjoy live matches comfortably on a big screen.
- Wide selection of local content
- Live sports streaming
- All plans come with HD-quality support
- Many budget and old Smart TVs in Kenya do not support the Showmax app
Both Netflix and Showmax offer quality content at reasonable prices here in Kenya. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your content preference. If you’re a sports fan, Showmax is your best option here in Kenya.
If you’re more into having a wide selection of movies and series to choose from, then Netflix is your best bet.
If you’re still undecided, give them both a try and see the one you end up watching the most. You can also alternate between the two every few months to keep things fresh and entertaining.