Press release: Showmax speeds up TV shows with new ‘power bingeing’ function

1 April 2016

Press release: Showmax speeds up TV shows with new ‘power bingeing’ function

Video compression technology developed for emerging markets to reduce data consumption has been adapted for use in a new ‘power bingeing’ function. This application speeds up TV shows and movies by as much as 42% without impacting voice or video quality.  Showmax viewers will now be able to fit three more TV show episodes into a five-hour binge viewing session.

1 April, 2016

Showmax, the internet TV service launched in South Africa in August 2015, is trialling a new service called ‘power bingeing’. Based on technology originally developed to reduce data consumption while watching video via a mobile connection, this new service allows users to speed up TV shows and movies by as much as 42%. This is done without impacting voice or video quality.

Mike Raath, Showmax Chief Technology Officer said:

“The Wall Street Journal did a story February last year on major networks speeding up TV shows by almost 8% to fit in additional commercials. Coincidentally, we’d been grappling with the affordability of mobile data and how this impacts internet TV usage in Africa. That’s when it hit us – if we speed up shows, our customers will use less data.”

A significant proportion of verbal communication is made up of pauses and other non-lexical vocables. Fillers such as ‘uh’, ‘erm’, and ‘ah’ can actually be removed without impacting the substance of a conversation. Showmax has developed proprietary technology to achieve this, speeding up conversation without causing a ‘helium voice’ effect.

“Our first attempts sounded like chipmunks on speed, but the engineers cracked the voice issue surprisingly quickly. Speeding up the video was much tougher. To be honest, everything we tried looked pretty-much like an episode of Benny Hill,” said Raath.

The answer came from a study on Critical Flicker Frequency (CFF). CFF is the threshold at which light flickers so quickly that it’s impossible to discern discrete flashes and instead one sees a steady glow.

“By manipulating frame rates and removing those beyond the perception limit of humans, we’ve managed to increase the speed of video without the characteristic jerky motion that you’d expect,” said Raath.

Catering to the needs of binge viewers, Showmax has now added a ‘power binge’ play button to all of its apps. In a typical five-hour viewing marathon, this button will allow the viewer to see three additional TV show episodes. The following link gives a demonstration of sped-up content vs the original:

“We’re on a roll. It’s amazing how innovation borne of necessity can lead to such unexpected outcomes. If you’d have told me a year ago I’d be putting out a press release on this, I’d have said you were having a joke,” concludes Raath.


Notes for editors:

About Showmax

Showmax is an internet-based subscription video on demand service supplying an extensive catalogue of TV shows and movies. By leveraging relationships with major production studios from across the globe, Showmax delivers both world-class international content as well as the best of specialised local content.

Showmax is accessible across a wide range of devices from smart TVs and computers to smartphones and tablets. To experience Showmax, visit

For more information, contact:

Richard Boorman, Head of Communications
+27 82 990 4080
+971 56 477 9627

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