Is Netflix coming to South Africa? Well, if the recent announcement from Netflix is to be believed then yes but we’re a little more sceptical. South African media has been abuzz about the recent announcement by Netflix that they are aiming to go global in the next 2 years and that South Africa is on the list of countries that will eventually be able to access their services. Understandably there has been some excitement about this announcement because South Africans haven’t exactly had a lot to choose from when it comes to decent TV content. The current offerings from the likes of DSTV are just way too expensive for what you get. There are a few million pay TV subscribers in SA and you can be sure that a lot of them pricked up their ears when they heard the Netflix announcement. When (if) Netflix do eventually get around to offering their service in South Africa will it be the solution to all your TV watching needs though? We doubt it and here’s why.
Currently if you try to access the Netflix website you get a message saying that their service isn’t currently available in your country. Netflix geoblock access to their content because of content licensing agreements they have with the people who provide them with the content. These content licensing issues aren’t just going to go away when (if) Netflix decides to start operating in South Africa. They have to pay for the rights to offer Video On Demand (VOD) content in whatever region they are targeting. This means that even if they have the right to show a program in the US they need to pay for a new license to show it in South Africa. Now think about the size of the market in South Africa compared to the US market and that will give you an idea of why this could become an expensive exercise with a pretty slow return on investment if they try and license all the decent content they currently offer in the US. Well, that just isn’t going to happen.
Essentially what might (and this is a big “might”) come to South Africa is the equivalent of Netflix Light with a reduced content offering. Depending on the pricing structure and the anticipated reduction in bandwidth costs they may actually come up with a compelling offer but I doubt it’s going to be cheaper than the current US subscription cost and you’ll be getting a lot less. So is Netflix coming to South Africa? Well, maybe, sometime, and looking a lot skinnier. Also, the answer to that question doesn’t really matter. If you’ve had a look at our guide to watching Netflix in South Africa you’ll know that there’s no need to wait.