We’ve known for a while that Netflix was officially coming to South Africa. We also knew that the world’s biggest online media streaming service would be hitting our digital shores in January. We just didn’t know exactly when. But now we do: About 45 minutes ago.
Yes, Netflix has officially launched down in SA. Earlier tonight, Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that they were turning on the service in previously announced 130 new countries, which includes South Africa, Russia, India, and South Korea.
Previously when accessing Netflix.com (without resorting to the digital trickery of VPN solutions like UnoTelly) you would get greeted by a page telling you that the service was not available in your region, but now you can sign up for an account which comes with a 1-month free trial. Prices are still being advertised in US dollars, with the cheapest package, named Basic, being offered at $7.99 (or R126 based on the current exchange rate) per month and giving you access to an SD stream on a single device on your network. The other two packages, Standard and Premium, scale up from there as can be seen on the image below.
These are exactly the same pricing structures used in the US, and can be paid for using either a credit card or PayPal account. In comparison, the best other local alternative Showmax, is still cheaper with it’s Premium offering only coming in at R99 per month, and allowing up to 5 simultaneous devices on one account, all streaming in HD. The difference will obviously come in with Netflix’s much larger catalogue.
In that regard I’ve given it some quick browsing and it actually looks pretty good. I’ve got one PC at home setup running the US Netflix via UnoTelly and another on the SA Netflix, and when comparing the two offerings – by looking for content my wife and I normally watch – there are indeed some content that is missing on the SA side. But its nowhere near as bad as some were suspecting. The US Netflix still has the largest catalog of all regions (and I never expected us to get the same), but South Africa certainly should not feel shortchanged. Especially since this includes their original Marvel shows like like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, although others like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black is missing due to prior content deals that were already in place with traditional broadcasters.
As for the technical aspects, streaming in HD on my 4Mbps ADSL line was also smooth and instantaneous with the show just starting at a slightly lower quality but then rapidly scaling up the resolution, as is the norm for Netflix.
Overall, your experience may differ based on your viewing habits or internet connection, but thus far I’m fairly impressed.
Last Updated: January 6, 2016