How Smartphones Have Completely Transformed South Africa’s Entertainment Industry

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The entertainment industry of South Africa has changed more in the last five years or so than perhaps it ever has, and it’s predominantly the result of affordable internet access granted by the influx of top-class smartphones. It’s a trend that’s being seen gradually sweeping across the continent, but the Rainbow Nation is undoubtedly among the most notable new-age entertainment markets.

As recorded by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, smartphone penetration marked yet another increase last year, rising from 81.7 percent to 91.2 percent. The number of smartphone users is around the 50 million mark, making it a massive market for online brands to try to win over.

Several international entertainment companies and new local businesses have been able to make the most of the emerging landscape, helping to transform popular entertainment in South Africa.

Watching the latest shows and movies on demand

In 2018, 14 percent of total internet user TV viewing was done via streaming online content to a TV or another device. Over the next couple of years, the global streaming service Netflix grew to having more than 337,000 subscribers in South Africa, generating over US$300 million. It’s not just the standard and premium forms of Netflix that are available to the South African audience, though.

Google Play continues to be one of the go-to places for streaming, with movies ranging from R10 to R150 on demand. While its service is run in US$, Amazon Prime Video has been able to win over a substantial South African audience, with its subscription service costing R93.26 per month. Then there’s also the more localized DSTV Now service, with its channels being accessible for just R29 per month.

Joining the gaming obsession via mobiles

Mobile gaming tends to follow where smartphones grow in popularity, particularly in regions where console and PC gaming haven’t blazed into the mainstream. The South African mobile gaming market is bustling, with the most popular global game apps winning over huge audiences. PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, Gardenscapes, Candy Crush Saga, and State of Survival stand as the highest-grossing mobile games in the nation – all of which have proven to be very popular overseas as well.

Combining internet access and the power of smartphones, another line of mobile gaming has risen to the fore – that of online casino gaming. There are several well-reviewed online casinos available in South Africa, each of which offers their platform in rand. To help establish itself in the new gaming market, the casino platforms have also been offering bonuses to new players, most of which offer bonus funds and free spins. It’s likely because of the new player incentives that the entertainment medium has become popular so quickly, but the ability to access it via mobile has cemented that success.

Combining online streaming with a love of gaming

With the adoption of online streaming services on the rise and several forms of gaming becoming popular, it was inevitable that eSports would eventually find an audience in South Africa. Still, something of a fledgeling scene, steady growth in the market value of the nation’s eSports scene is expected to soar over the coming years. Experts forecast the scene as generating R52 million in sponsorships, R24 million in media rights, and R8.2 million in ticket sales by 2023, demonstrating the scene’s ever-increasing popularity.

Spearheading the rise of eSports are mobile games like PUBG Mobile and Call of Duty Mobile alongside the console and PC-based titles. Games like Fortnite, FIFA, and Overwatch have established themselves as leading titles in South Africa’s competitive gaming industry. Among the biggest tournaments in the area are the African Cyber Gaming League as well as the Mettlestate, with contests taking place regularly for people to enter and watch.

Streaming video on demand, playing online mobile games, and participating in competitive gaming are becoming the hot new ways to enjoy entertainment in South Africa.

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Potentash Founder. A creative writer and editor at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]