Netflix has signaled the shift to streaming in South Africa for films and TV series. Netflix now has more than 200 million subscribers around the world, despite a recent slowdown in subscriber growth. The streaming services and their impact on content creation, distribution and consumption are the biggest changes in the film industry since the 1990s.
This expansion on the African continent has been hampered by the lack of affordability, the uneven connectivity, and the high cost of data. Netflix is out of reach for the majority of people. According to information, Netflix will have only 1.4 million subscribers on the continent by 2020. In a growing number of African countries, the online streaming industry is still growing .
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And it’s not just about Netflix. South Africa-based Multichoice – owner of digital satellite television service DStv and online subscription video on demand service Showmax – has put up an effective fight for this market. Before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, Multichoice was planning to produce 52 local movies and 29 dramas in 2020.
The company claims that DStv, Showmax and South African users have doubled between 2018 and 2019. They are now locally larger than Netflix – though they did not reveal the exact numbers.
Tell Me Sweet Something, a 2015 romantic comedy, was a major breakthrough.
The African romcom is a great fit for streaming. Streaming platforms are still producing versions of the film. Netflix has South African romcoms Mrs Right Guy 2016, Catching Feelings 2017 and Seriously Single 2020. The Nollywood take on the genre includes hits such as The Wedding Party (2017).
In my article, I explore what these films reveal about the urban upper and middle classes’ lifestyles and ambitions. The article also examines how these films reimagine Johannesburg – the city in which most black South African romantic comedies are set.