MX Player: Rationalising Streaming for Indian Audiences

MX Player: India’s largest OTT super app and the Hercules of desi entertainment.


Our 21st-century society has seen the spiraling impact of western binge-watching culture, marking OTT platforms as an inevitable daily dose of entertainment from viewing acclaimed films, to settling a charge out of flinch content, but are these paid entertainment zones suiting the financial reality and backgrounds of middle-class Indians?

When the streaming service providers were treading in a hyper-competitive relay, at that point, entered MX Player, a company having the disadvantage of rivaling with the tribe tardy but still dared to break customary norms and ran a marathon in the opposite direction, fitting in the aspirations, limitations and requirements of every average Indian. 

How did MX Player fuel from a mere multimedia playback application to a leading video streaming platform on smartphones with a gigantic global install base of over 500 million?       

A Chronicle of Prevalence

 With its current headquarters based in Singapore, MX Player was originally founded and launched in July 2011 by a South Korean IT firm J2Interactive as a multimedia video player.

MX Player, since its release, became a Mecca concretely for android users in India and abroad as it facilitated popular features that could instantly run the otherwise not supported HD videos, SD card media transfers, and varied MP audio formats by android.

MX Player with its South Korean roots remained a cross-platform media player until Times Internet acquired the application from Zenjoy, a Chinese smartphone gaming firm, by officially investing in a majority of its undisclosed stakes in 2018.

MX Player brought normalcy to Streaming in India

Why Times Internet Acquired MX Player for a Whopping 1000 Crore? 

When Times Internet acquired MX Player in 2018, for a hefty amount of Rs. 1000 crore, the sanction inked headlines and alongside rattled unsettling questions as to why was a focal video player valued in crores? 

The answer to that lies in India’s 2016 revolutionary digital advent and internet surge, manifesting MX Player as a contemporary Avant-grand. India’s digital space was rebooted in 2016 with the launch of Jio, trending nominal data tariffs and averagely availing internet that accounted for a hyke in daily active Indian internet users by 150 million. 

Times Internet mapped the incipiently paved need of Indians to binge on online content, hence, not only in 2018 did it acquire MX Player but also clinched the pre-existing brand name and loyalty of 175 MAUs (monthly active users).  

It was relaunched in 2019 as a multimedia player and OTT platform with ‘MAX’ entertainment to offer. Tencent Games from China in a Series A funding round invested $111 million in MX Player marking its total valuation to $500 million. 

MX Player: Reimagining and Bridging the Entertainment Cranny

MX Player after the launch of its 2.0 avatar, is topically an advertisement-led integrated playback device and OTT platform. With a thoughtfully designed user-friendly interface, MX Player caters to the local multimedia player but the major crux lies in its streaming section which is equated with explicit entertainment genres. 

The video section offers 2,00,000 watch library hours for Indian content, displaying shows and movies in regional languages namely Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, Telugu, and English. The application is an endless scrolling path to Live TV channel content, MX originals, music, Korean drama, dubbed international movies, award shows, national and sports news. 

After close analytical consumer study, the casual gaming section of MX Player was integrated as a shrewd business strategy, a month before lockdown in February 2020, during the boom of online gaming that transformed the MX gaming zone into a gold mine while considering the user retention rates.

MX Player recorded the most noteworthy user metrics in 2020, lacking solely behind video streaming giant Youtube in terms of total hours spent per consumer.

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“Indian crowd seeks a homogenized media super app that users can visit from all economic and cultural substrata, based on time and entertainment predilection.”

MX Player’s Conversing Business Model

A true OTT venture isn’t measured by the size of its subscription revenue base, but by the strength of its user retention capabilities. MX Player umbrellas a premium AVOD (advertisement-based video on demand) model providing users subscription-free viewing to premium originals and syndicated content amid subscription-based and Hybrid OTT-business competitors Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix, SonyLiv, Zee5, YouTube, and Amazon Prime to name a few. 

The advertisement and in-app purchases led revenue demographic retained consumers who purely have to bear a few advertisements partially outshined by the “free to consume” service and majorly attracted 50 news brands to advertise in a pandemic-infested year. Well aware of the ROI (return on investment), investors instill slots in sponsored shows and real-time streaming content. 

 The app claims to have quadrupled its income rate since 2020, thanks to a slew of new brand engagements and offerings oriented on the continuance of ad-supported streaming, which pulls millions of potential users and distinguishes them from other OTT invaders. 

The gaming section of MX Player is a big-time entertainment hooker and monthly revenue generator evinced as the best platform to advertise. 

The advertisement duration varying from 15 to 30 seconds is not interrupting for audiences in the casual gaming section, but in turn, shares a cordial viewing relation with users as countless demand supplementary advertisements in the gaming zone, enhancing the gaming experience with additional points and progressive benefits. 

MX Player appears to be positive towards the future standpoint of its commercial mix-driven business reach and advocates that the model is churning significant foreign dollars to not just MX Player but compensating the market in general.

A Guerrilla Marketing-Mix Stringing Small Cities

MX player has outsourced audience prospects with an aggressive marketing approach aiming to emerge as a profitable super-app piling “entertainment” under one roof. With lockdown leveraging digital engagement tremendously a guerilla marketing tactic was applied to many MX originals, at times investing zero funds on the actual show campaign but to the contrary, generating attention and profit from millions organically.

It focused on restoring value proposition leapfrogging from subsisting 175 MAUs to 220 million in 2020 and nearing digitally to 280 million up to the minute. 

Sharply focusing on the substantially uncatered and ignored Tier-2 and Tier-3 Indian city users via personalized push notification and A/B testing, cementing an underrated audience which constitutes a vast part of MX Player’s topical user base who binge MX library in mid-range 4G smartphones. 

The onset and continuation of the global pandemic has parallelly generated lasting engagement to the application. MX Player’s typical and target users reside from top metros to small cities and now even distant towns ranging from 18-24 years and 25-34 years for whom specific regional and social scenario-related content is positioned.

MX Player as of late bagged the 7th position among the top 10 monthly user engaging applications in India.

MX Player: Pushing Boundaries On Regional Content

MX Player imbibes impeccably to Indian behaviorism and rolls a hungry appetite to binge on, an experimental blend of rural as well as urban content unlike other global video streaming applications, such as Netflix and Amazon, who have a pure international influence on their content collection. 

About 30 per cent of MX Player’s content is multilingual as out of its 500 million active installation base, 350 million installers drum from India. 

MX Player undoubtedly reads the very veins of Indian entertainment seekers putting in relatable content from ‘I’mMature’ to ‘Flames’ that grapples the attention of teenagers and college students to producing regional shows such as “Queen” dashing a universally emotional appeal. 

With diverse offerings for every section of the Indian society from popular linguistic daily soaps to lining crime thrillers with a rural protagonist and flawed godmen character in shows as ‘Bhaukal’, ‘Aashram’ whose more than 263 million and 1.3 billion views perforate one deep into MX player’s digital market disruption extent.

The app has over the years perfectly formulated to deliver content proportional to social scenarios as ‘High’, released in 2020, surrounding Bollywood drug trials. 

The content mix of MX Player was updated with 40 shows in FY2020 and nearing the first half of 2021, 11 contemporary MX originals have been officially streamed. 

It stakes upwards in the user retention and addition market with 200 million users luring in from regional content streams. 

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“Digital adoption advent in India is anticipating Indian OTT market to emerge globally dominant in terms of market size.”

Dwarfing Local and Global OTT Players

MX Player fits in the budget of average Indians proving to be “the situational face of affordable entertainment” with a language personalisation interface that generates regional and foreign-language shows as per user preference. 

OTTs as Netflix indirectly mandate a strong Wi-Fi connection to seamlessly stream while Amazon consumes up to 1 GB of data in 1.5 hours, acting plainly exorbitant to fit in middle-class Indian pockets who save money to fulfill family aspirations, and less about bandwidth expenditure for entertainment.

MX Player empowers streaming in the lowest of resolutions from 144p to 1080p with an ultra-data-preserving feature that truncates internet consumption by 50 per cent. 

MX Player sidelined OTT sharks in terms of hours spent monthly with an average user fixating 8 hours on MX Player contrasted to 4/5/7 hours on Amazon Prime, Hotstar, and Netflix respectively.

While Amazon Prime and Netflix focused on a niche 5 percent Indian audience, MX Player partnered with television broadcasters attaching shows with lethal fan bases to the content library.

The entertainment genres of MX Player omnibuses, live streaming from syndicated partners namely Voot, Shemaroo, Humagma, Sony entertainment, SunTV Network, Paramount pictures, Goldmine Telefilms, and Gaana. 

It established its global footprint by publicising the OTT service exclusively in the United States, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan, Bhutan, UAE, Canada, Australia, Bangladesh, and Nepal. MX Players international library includes Hollywood, Korean, Spanish, and Turkish movies dubbed in local languages while for other nations MX Player remains the topmost priority as a multimedia player. 

Are OTT Platforms the Surfacing Future of Mainstream Media?

Venturing on a different path altogether MX Player has teamed with electronic manufacturers such as OnePlus, Compaq, TLC, to deliver smart TVs preloaded with the MX Player application. 

MX Player is in discussion to adapt an SVOD (subscription-based video on demand) model this year,  however,  official timelines remain undisclosed.

In India, there are to date 607 million 4G linked smartphones and with the global pandemic boosting digital acceleration, MX Player predicts smart TVs to emerge as the future face of mainstream media. 

In the next five years, India may perhaps have 800 million broadband-connected TV, laptop, and smartphone displays, and MX Player pursues to stream on a fairly large proportion of those screens.

The gaming section has manifested as MX Player’s cash-cow which would be positively evolved to attribute a high-end gaming experience and enkindle valuable profits.

Will MX PLayer re-define its very own vision of “Everytainment” if the topical predictions and business ventures blossom growth in the near future? 

For more inspiring stories check out our Inspire section!

Pratik Jain
Pratik Jain
Pratik is an intern at Dutch Uncles, his interest area is technology start-ups and socio-political satire. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from CHRIST.

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