Times Internet, which is the digital arm of Indian media firm Times Group, is getting into the digital content space, but not in the way you might think.
The company’s previous venture which is called an OTT called BoxTV.com — shut down in the year 2016 after an underwhelming four-year period. Now it is taking a radically different strategy by buying video playback app MX Player at a cost of USD $140 million. The company didn’t disclose its stake but said it is a majority percentage.
Times Internet plans to introduce a streaming content service to MX Player users which Karan Bedi, MX Player CEO, expects to go live before the month of August. The plan is to introduce at least 20 original shows and more 50,000 content across multiple local languages in India during the first year. The duo said the lion’s share of that investment money would go into developing content.
Both Bedi and Times Internet MD Satyan Gajwani explained to in an interview that a big focus is differentiation and building a digital channel for India’s young since the average viewer demographics for MX player are hugely different to Indian TV audiences. Some 80 percent of the app’s users are aged under 35 (70 percent is aged under 25), while the gender balance is skewed more towards men.
“A lot of people aren’t happy with Indian TV,” Bedi said. “There are a lot is soaps and it is not focused on young people. [The MX PLayer audience] is exactly the opposite of the Indian tv demographic.” “India has a $6 billion TV ad market and we think this could unlock some of the money going to TV,” he said.
“This audience on here is genuinely different, [rather than cord-cuttters] they’re almost cord-nevers,” Bedi added. “This is a big new audience that’s never been tapped by broadcasters.” “Further down the line, we might include subscriptions to scale,” Gajwani added. “Subscription is growing but it’s much much smaller today, what excites us is the idea we’ll have 100 million people streaming a show.”
MX Player might not be well known, but scale is one thing it certainly has in spades. The company just crossed 500 million downloads on the operating system Android, but Bedi pointed out that many are not counted because they are side-loaded, which doesn’t register with the Google Play Store.
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