Showmax’s Marc Jury

The new Showmax launched this month with a brand-new look, new app and entirely new product suite. This includes a record 21 Showmax originals from four African countries, a revamped international content slate and the continent’s first stand-alone Premier League mobile streaming plan. In all, more than 1,300 hours of new Showmax originals will be released in 2024 across Africa. For fans of international content, a partnership between MultiChoice and Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky guarantees Showmax an ongoing supply of hit content, including from the likes of Universal Pictures, NBC, Peacock, Sky, DreamWorks Animation and Telemundo. Marc Jury, CEO of Showmax, talks about the offering.

WS: What’s guiding the overall strategy for shaping the “new” Showmax?
JURY: We want to make it effortless for African audiences to access and afford the stories they love. To do so, we’re combining incredible African content with unrivaled international content from the world’s biggest entertainment brands, as well as the world’s first mobile Premier League product, all hosted on an Emmy-winning platform that’s just set a record for the most concurrent streams in the U.S. ever. And we’re delivering that all at great value pricing you can’t help but love.

WS: Talk to me about the Showmax originals—it’s a record number! What’s the strategy there?
JURY: We have all the big drama winners at this year’s Emmys, as well as two of the five biggest blockbusters from last year globally. But African audiences still prefer African content.

We want to empower local filmmakers to tell stories that surprise and delight their communities, in their local languages, across a wide range of genres. MultiChoice is the largest producer of original content on the African continent, with three decades of experience, and our local content is a key differentiator for us. No one knows this continent better than we do, and that shows in the content we make.

The most searched TV series in South Africa in 2023 on Google was Shaka iLembe, while series on Showmax were the biggest winner at the most recent AMVCAs in Nigeria, SAFTAs in South Africa and Kalasha Awards in Kenya. Rise: The Siya Kolisi Story won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, Reyka and Two Sides were nominated for International Emmys, the Showmax original Spinners became the first African series selected at Canneseries, and Recipes for Love and Murder and Donkerbos were both selected for Berlinale Series Market Selects, among other recent accolades.

WS: There’s a revamped international content slate as well. How has that been shaped?
JURY: As a result of MultiChoice’s partnership with Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Sky, Showmax is guaranteed an ongoing supply of the world’s most popular titles from the media giant’s renowned brands, including Universal Pictures, Focus Features, NBC, Peacock, DreamWorks Animation and Telemundo. This includes two of the five biggest blockbusters of last year: Fast X and The Super Mario Bros. Movie; missing persons procedural Found, which was NBC’s biggest launch on Peacock yet; and box sets of classic NBC comedies like The Office and Parks and Recreation.

Showmax also continues to draw from the likes of Paramount, including Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning, Lawmen: Bass Reeves and Halo season two in February, as well as from HBO, with new seasons of House of the Dragon, The Last of UsTrue Detective and The White Lotus on the way. Other key partners include Banijay, BBC, eOne, Fremantle, ITV, Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros. Discovery, among others, so viewers can expect international titles on Showmax to radically increase this year.

WS: Tell me about the mix and focus for drama on Showmax.
JURY: Africans watch more TV than most, so we have a sophisticated audience that enjoys a wide range of content. We’re always testing out new things. If you look at our most-watched South African titles last year, reality series and scripted dramas both featured prominently, together with a true-crime documentary and a talk show. International content was weighted toward action movies and HBO’s big hits, like SuccessionThe Last of Us and House of the Dragon.

WS: What does the MultiChoice and Comcast partnership bring to the service?
JURY: We’ve spoken about the guaranteed pipeline of international content above. The other big advantage is the Peacock platform, which positions Showmax as ready to scale and scale fast. With the launch of Showmax, the Peacock streaming platform will be active in more than 70 countries and is continually enhanced by the combined expertise of thousands of engineers. The world-class platform has brought millions of viewers popular events such as Super Bowl LVI, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 final, the Olympics and WrestleMania 39. In 2023, Comcast won a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for its sports viewing experiences across Peacock, Sky and Xfinity, and on January 13, Peacock’s exclusive AFC Wild Card Game became the biggest live-streamed event in U.S. history, reaching 27.6 million viewers and a record 16.3 million concurrent devices. The initial feedback we’re getting is that the new app is a big step forward for us.

WS: Why was it important to offer the continent’s first stand-alone Premier League mobile streaming plan?
JURY: The Premier League is the most popular football league in Africa. More than 20 percent of live viewership comes from Africa, there are more than 50 African players in the league, and there are 250 million Premier League fans on the continent. MultiChoice has partnered with the Premier League since it first started, so we know exactly how much it means to local audiences.

WS: Overall, what do you want the industry to know about the new Showmax?
JURY: I think you’d struggle to find a better value streaming subscription anywhere in the world right now. If you look at our launch lineup, if you were in the U.S., you’d need to be subscribed to Peacock, Max, Paramount+ and STARZ to access all our shows, and you’d be missing out on not just the Premier League but also the new wave of African filmmakers that are ready to break out globally, as we’ve seen happen with Nordic noir or K-dramas. Just watch Spinners to see how the bar keeps getting raised here.