Streaming: The ultimate boredom buster for your kids
New video streaming services give parents access to thousands of kids shows at an affordable price.
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What happened to marbles? Or spinning tops? Colouring books and Barbie dolls?

They’re gone. All of them. Dead. Victims of the electronic age where goldfish have a greater attention span than most children.

Okay, not really. But sometimes it seems that kids today will sooner digest marbles than play with them.

Read more: TV and your child

Back in the prehistoric age all we needed was a pillow fortress and some Lego and that was the whole day sorted. Not anymore. Kids of the e-pocalypse are a lot harder to entertain. Especially on long car journeys, holidays and rainy days.

Subscription video-on-demand is here

A new technology to hit South Africa offers parents an easy and cheap solution. It’s called subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), which is basically internet TV.  It allows you to choose from a massive collection of shows to watch online with any digital device at any time and features tonnes of awesome programmes for the kids.

One of the best things about SVOD is that you can watch entire series from the very beginning. Every episode back-to-back with no interruptions and no commercials.

What are the options?

There are really only two options worth considering in South Africa at the moment: ShowMax and Netflix.

ShowMax

The biggest SVOD player in Africa in terms of content is ShowMax. It offers unlimited access to over 20 000 episodes of local and international series and movies for R99 a month.

The ShowMax subscription allows you to watch ShowMax on two devices at the same time – Spiderman on your smart TV and Winnie the Pooh on the tablet, for example. 

It has hundreds of new and classic titles for the kids from Disney and Nickleodeon from The Avengers series to Dora the Explorer. There are also educational programmes like LeapFrog, Bo on the Go and Super Why to help with early stage development. Look out for classic Afrikaans favourites like Liewe Heksie, Wielie Walie, Brakkenjan and Maja die By.

Netflix

International service Netflix is another SVOD service that launched in South Africa earlier this month. The local catalogue is somewhat limited, but Netflix does offer a range of international kids shows such as Peppa Pig, Pokemon and Barbie as well as movies.

Netflix has three tiers: Basic (US$7.99) offers SD and you can only watch on one device; Standard (US$9.99/R168) offers HD and you can watch on two devices; and Premium (US$11.99/R202) offers Ultra HD and you can watch on four screens simultaneously. Remember that the monthly price will fluctuate in rand value as the exchange rate changes.

Netflix is more expensive than ShowMax and doesn’t offer South African users nearly as much content as our American cousins. Mom and dad may be disappointed to discover that Netflix originals like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are still only available on DStv due to licensing agreements.

Alternative streaming options

There are smaller SVOD players in South Africa like OnTapTV, VU and Vidi with prices ranging from R89 to R149 a month but they don’t offer nearly as much variety.

Get streaming now

All you need to start streaming is a smartphone, tablet, laptop or smart TV and access to the internet.

ShowMax has a unique feature that is great if your internet connection isn’t reliable. The app lets you download up to 25 shows for 30 days on your Android device, with Apple coming soon. This is ideal for long trips when internet access is limited and the kids tend to get rowdy.

Most of the above SVOD services have free trials so you can try them out first.

Do you have a video-on-demand subription? Tell us about your experience at chatback@parent24.com.

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