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Netflix officially live in SA at $7.99 a month

South African internet users can now access Netflix without having to resort to the semi-legal methods they’ve used to date.

The world’s biggest video-on-demand service officially became available to South Africans on Wednesday, with prices starting at US$7.99 (+/-R126) a month.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), currently underway in Las Vegas.

“Today, I am delighted to announce that while we have been here on stage at CES, we switched Netflix in Azerbaijan, in Vietnam, in India, in Nigeria, in Poland, in Russia, in Saudi Arabia, in Singapore, in South Korea, in Turkey, in Indonesia, and in 130 new countries,” said Hastings.

With the current exchange rate, Netflix is slightly more expensive than the R99 customers currently pay for Naspers’ ShowMax offering. Launched in 2015, it has probably been the most successful VoD service in the country to date.

The basic Netflix subscription also doesn’t allow for HD viewing or the ability to watch on more than one screen at any one time. If you want to watch on two screens, you’ll have to fork out an extra US$2 a month. And if you want to keep the whole family happy and watch content on four screens, you’ll find yourself paying US$11.99 (with the added benefit of being able to access Ultra HD content).

That said, Netflix has a considerably larger library, with more than 7 000 titles than the Naspers-owned offering or any of the other streaming services currently available in South Africa.

Read more: Will Netflix be able to impact the African continent?

It’s also worth noting that Netflix is available on a much greater variety of devices than ShowMax, which is available on iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, and a select number of smart TVs.

By contrast, Netflix is also available on gaming consoles, Apple TVs and Google Chromecast. That said, a content agreement with Naspers’ satellite TV offering DSTV means that key Netflix original series such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black may not be available on the local offering from the VoD service.

Netflix’ expansion into South Africa was initially announced in January 2015 but with no confirmed date.

The actual entry appears to have happened fairly stealthily with no obvious fanfare. Another point of interest is that Netflix has decided to continue pricing in dollars rather than in the local Rand. It’s a policy which makes sense for a number of financial reasons, although it’ll have local subscribers hoping just that little bit more fervently for improvements from the Rand in 2016.

That is however in line with what it does in other markets around the world, so shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Anyone signing up to Netflix is entitled to a month’s free trial.

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