With this piece, we take a look at the rise of MX Player in India. The platform emerged as the fastest growing OTT Platform during the COVID-19 Lockdown. We’ll try to explore how the app went from being an offline video sharing and editing app to one of the fastest-growing OTT platforms in India.
Here’s something interesting before we start, while all the other OTT Players in India are taking measures in order to ensure that they limit the number of users per subscription, MX Player has kept their OTT platform free for everyone. Well, yes.
What is it that they’re trying to do, are they focusing on market penetration? But without generating revenue, will they survive? These are a few things we’ll be looking at today. Let’s take a look at the story!
The Rise of MX Player
An app touted as ‘India’s largest OTT platform’ and has rightly earned the title of India’s number 1 OTT platform for 2019. However, the Indian MX Player has a non-desi origin story that not many know of, let’s dive into it.
MX Player, created by a South Korean developer, first came into the market as a cross-platform video app that gave users the chance to create, edit, download and playback videos offline. The app started gaining traction because of the flexibility that it offered, and by 2018 it was bought out by the Indian media giant Times Group.
Re-looking the Business Model
However, with the rise of OTT, MX chose not to only limit to their original offering, and also providing OTT services, becoming one of the most innovative OTT platforms of India. MX Player is also the first platform to bring online and offline video and music streaming as well as gaming together. For OTT, they started off by offering content that was created in-house in 10 Indian regional languages to cater to the most diverse audiences in the world.
Did I mention that you can access this content entirely free of cost?
The acquisition of MX Player by Times Group for almost $200 million was carried out with the intention of competing with OTT platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, etc. as it previously couldn’t get a stronghold in the industry. The need of the hour for the Times Group was paving a way into the industry through the younger generations that were unhappy with Indian TV and preferred more edgy content that they could easily relate to.
This is what led to MX Player showcasing regional content made by observing real life. The CEO Karan Bedi has on various occasions, emphasized the need for offering innovative content on a free platform as the leverage that sets MX Player apart. A recent example of this concept being in absolute favour of MX Player’s title of the best OTT platform in India is the success of their show ‘Aashram’ conceptualized by the MX content creators. The show is now 2 seasons old starring actor Bobby Deol as the lead and has broken all records of viewership. It has crossed the 100 crore views mark.
Everything worked in favour of the show as it was released on a free platform accessible to everyone in a price-conscious country with the lowest data costs during pandemic lockdowns when people were consuming more than twice the amount of online content compared to normal. It is no surprise that the show analytics have shown people ‘binge-watching’ across the country. It also stands to say that not all quality content is paid. Currently, the platform offers upwards of 20 shows in 10 regional languages spanning over genres like talk shows, romance, drama, etc.
YouTube, for ages, has dominated the free content creation market, however with Jio introducing lower data prices, alternate OTT platforms created by larger TV networks like Sony, ALTBalaji started sprouting up. While the bigger chunk of the market is still held by YouTube, because of its all-ages friendly content. YouTube originals are only accessible through the YouTube premium subscription, which is seemingly not the case for MX Player, which has only one difference between its paid and free versions- the ads. The MX Player Pro users can get rid of the ads that the platform displays. Which brings us to the conversation on monetization.
Related: Take a look at the case study of Reliance
So, how does MX Player make Money?
Two simple words: ad revenue.
MX Player is not just an OTT Platform anymore. It is a multi-purpose application that also includes gaming, TakaTak (the Indian TikTok), and also a creator!
Related: Take a look at the rise of Short-video platforms
Confused? Yeah, that happens.
That’s what they are aiming to provide, yo, no, not confusion, but, ‘everytainment’.
This is a term that they have coined to showcase their aim of entering every type of entertainment genre, and category to take over the Indian on-demand video market.
They are able to keep levelling up because their app is ad-supported. But don’t ads spoil experience? Well, not for everyone.
To understand their best TG, they researched and found insights on what category app users responded to ads the best? They found out it was the Gamers! The gamers are more welcoming towards ads as they get to earn points for the game or get to unlock special features. This prompted MX Player to launch the gaming feature in their app.
Their gaming platform, just like their an on-demand video platform, is top-notch and partners with gaming giants like Nazara, Gamespix amongst others to give the Indian gaming community the best experience ever. It also provides tournaments, cash prizes, virtual currencies, PvP gaming and even social features for a more interactive gaming experience. The MX gaming platform is seeing upwards of 25 million monthly active gaming users, with more than 70 minutes of engagement per day and growing daily.
However, one interesting factoid about MX Players stands out from the rest, and that is- MX Player gets more than 50% of its traction from tier 2 cities. This is a clear indication of the deeper market penetration that MX Player is able to access as compared to foreign apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Though the free version of MX Player displays ads, its user base has shown a positive trend. It was bought out by the Times Group when it had approximately 175 million Indian users (2018), and now it has more than 200 million users (Nov 2020). They aim to double their growth in the next 4 years, and it doesn’t seem a very unattainable goal.
Overall, a seemingly inconspicuous app that ranked amongst the top 10 Android apps consistently has now blown up to become India’s top OTT platform. MX Player is doing the Indian market right and has dedicated teams that are working round the clock to provide quality content to everyone who wishes to watch something intriguing at the end of the day whether they pay for it or not.