Joburg smart city firm may launch ShowMax rival

Gareth van Zyl

Johannesburg - A Hong Kong company, which is involved in South Africa’s first smart city project in Modderfontein, is said to be readying a competitor to streaming service ShowMax.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Hong Kong information and communications technology company PCCW is launching its own video-on-demand service in South Africa next week.

In March, PCCW bought a majority stake in mobile video-on-demand service Vuclip which is planning expansion into the Middle East, Africa and Asia in 2015.

Fin24 contacted PCCW but a spokesperson said: “We have no comment”.

Public relations company Weber Shandwick, which represents PCCW globally, sent journalists an invitation this week to a new ‘mystery’ video-on-demand launch.

A Weber Shandwick representative was not willing to disclose whether the video-on-demand service launch pertains particularly to PCCW.

PCCW is the holding company of HKT Group Holdings, a Hong Kong-based information and communications technology firm.

Last year PCCW Global announced that it plans to provide telecoms and technology services for the R84bn Zendai smart city project in Modderfontein, Johannesburg.

The smart city project is expected to take 20 years to develop and will be the first of its kind in South Africa.

ShowMax and Netflix

The race is on to provide video-on-demand content in South Africa.

Last month multinational media and internet company Naspers [JSE:NPN] launched ShowMax, a service aimed at competing against Netflix.

ShowMax spokesperson Richard Boorman told Fin24 that "video-on-demand services have proven massively popular in other parts of the world, and we think the same will happen in South Africa".

"In fact, just this week Telkom unveiled plans to connect one million homes with fibre - this is exactly the kind of development that will spur a change in viewing habits and a move to on-demand viewing," Boorman told Fin24 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, US-based Netflix is expanding across the globe with an view to launching in South Africa by the end of 2016.

*Fin24 is part of Media24 which is owned by Naspers.