MX Player has been in the OTT business for a year now, how has the platform grown since it was acquired by Times Internet?
We have been live for just about a year including our beta period, our formal market launch was in February. I think we need to do multiple things right. Distribution, content, monetization are the three big pillars of what any successful OTT platform needs to have. In our case we have got it all. We had a great existing depth of distribution for MX and our team has done a fantastic job of taking it forward. Today we probably have the largest collection of premium content available for video on demand in India, compared to a TV networks across Hindi or other languages, or web series, or movies, live channels etc. And monetization is the third step that we are happily moving towards.
Have you decided on the subscription model for monetization for MX Player yet?
Monetization can happen in multiple ways. We are currently ad led, which is a significant revenue stream for us. We currently don’t have any fixed plans. We will always explore multiple monetization models, as we don’t believe just one model can be enough. There could be multiple monetization models in the paid layer. So, we will experiment and see what happens but currently we are very happy with an ad led model and we are not looking at paid subscriptions for the moment.
You started off with around 175 million monthly active users in July 2018, where does the number stand today?
It grows by a couple of percent each month, and that’s purely organic growth that we get from the MX platform. The more important thing is that the percentage of people from that who have converted to streaming has been extremely high. So, while we don’t talk about those numbers, publically, I can confidently say we are now the second largest OTT platform in the country on pretty much every metric. The overall base is growing. Even more importantly the streaming base has been growing by 15%- 20% a month. It’s crazy.
Yours is one of the unique platforms which shows content even from rival OTT platforms like Hotstar and SonyLiv…
As I mentioned earlier, distribution is a very important part of being an OTT player. And I think in these scenarios we have win-win relationships with many large content owners. And the distribution we can provide is pretty much unparalleled. So, it’s win-win for everybody.
MX Player has focused in a big way on original content, however is the cost of production a challenge still?
We are live with 15 original content shows today and it will go up to 35 by March 2020. So, the ambition has been pretty big. The cost part of it really depends on how you look at it. I mean, when we first came into the market, creators didn’t know who we were. Today there is a sea change in how we are perceived. In terms of cost, I think the entire industry is going through a massive surge with regards to demand for content. And because typically we either made daily soaps, or films, and have not been used to producing these multi-episode seasons kind of content, which is just 2-3 years old. So supply is taking a little bit of time to catch-up. I think people are also learning how to create for this pattern. So, I think there are some short term up-downs on supply- demand, but I think overall cost was stabilized quite quickly.