The battle for eyeballs in the already-crowded Indian OTT space is set to intensify further. Former tech company, MX Player is about to join the fray as a streamer.
MX Player began life as a cross-platform media player developed by South Korea’s J2 Interactive. In June 2018, Times Internet, part of India’s giant Times conglomerate acquired a controlling stake MX Player for $140 million and re-launched it as a video streamer. It hired former Eros Now COO Karan Bedi as CEO.
The platform has stayed relatively quiet since then. Speaking to Variety at the ongoing Asian TV Forum & Market, where he is a presenter, Bedi said that the company is going through a research and development phase, with the big announcements set for the first quarter of 2019.
What sets MX Player apart from its immediate competitors like Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony Liv and Voot is its staggering subscriber base. “We have more than 270 million monthly actives around the world and more than 70% of that is in India,” Bedi said. “In terms of downloads we are well north of 600 million worldwide.”
MX Player has signed partnerships with more than 100 companies to provide content for the platform. Partners include Alt Balaji, Arre, TVF, Dice Media and Sony. For the moment, MX Player is an AVoD platform, but the company is looking into other models as well. Eventually, the platform will offer more than 50,000 hours of content across 10 Indian languages.
“We are not looking at a niche,” said Bedi. “At this scale it is a cross-section of the Indian internet audience. We have a lot of consumption across different Indian languages, so we are making sure that we are covered in most languages.”
MX Player has also signed content supply deals with Pakistan’s Hum TV and ARY. It is also sourcing content from countries culturally relevant to India, such as Turkey. “Over time we will go after all there is to go after,” said Bedi.
The company is also producing 20 Indian original series by A-list filmmaking talents. Fresh off the box office success of “Veere Di Wedding,” Shashank Ghosh is directing “Hey Prabhu,” a comedy about the angst of millennials, for MX Player.
More than 80% of the MX subscriber base is under the age of 34, said Bedi, a millennial generation who may not have had access to the TV remote control in a single television household, and prime time content is usually focused on the homemakers. Most of the MX original content will address this sector. “These millennials are now consuming content hand over fist,” Bedi said.
Other MX originals include an untitled biography series directed by Gautham Menon (“Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya”,) a comic commentary on the Indian advertising scene by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy (“A Billion Colour Story”,) and a take on the Indian entertainment industry by Abbas Tyrewala (“Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na”).
There are also several non-fiction series being produced, including a Bollywood quiz show, music shows and a reality show set around an Indian wedding.