MX Player scored 250 mn users in India & 350 mn users globally in 2022: Nikhil Gandhi
With a huge and diverse audience base in India as well as a global reach of 58 countries, including the UAE, US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, among others, MX Player is currently India’s largest growing OTT platform. It uses both an AVOD and SVOD business model and is recognised as a platform that has a deep sense of the audience’s pulse with its several genre-spanning record-breaking series in 2022, including ‘Campus Diaries’, ‘Bhaukaal’, ‘Aashram’, ‘Matsya Kaand’, ‘Lock Upp’, ‘Roohaniyat’, ‘Shiksha Mandal’ and the recently launched blockbuster, ‘Dharavi Bank’. The Suniel Shetty, Vivek Anand Oberoi series rated 9.7 on IMDb and hit record-breaking 4X subscriptions on MX Gold.
Additionally, MX Player’s innovative H.266 technology reduces video streaming data consumption in half, giving users a seamless and premium content experience. According to the State of Mobile Report by data.ai, MX Player ranks #2 in India and #6 worldwide in terms of downloads in video streaming.
In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Nikhil Gandhi, Chief Operating Officer, MX Media, speaks at length about MX Player’s recently launched shows, various businesses that MX Media has forayed into, their partnerships with various brands this year, and much more.
Speaking about H1, Nikhil Gandhi said, “The first half we grew over 30-35%. Over the last year, we have seen macro pressure on the market, which has affected the AVOD business to grow at a certain pace as compared to what we imagined it to be.”
Quite a few bigger OTT players are considering an AVOD system. When asked about the impact this will create on the OTT ecosystem, Gandhi said, “We also have a subscription model, which is probably the only model for other platforms to survive. The main market specifically is a highly advertiser-driven market. Users are used to watching ads from the time they were introduced to television, so they have the bandwidth to sustain and watch ads on streaming platforms as well. While Indians have the ability and the capacity to pay, the intent to pay for entertainment is not there. Today, with numerous OTT platforms and an increase in affordability for consumers, there has been a growth in aggregator OTT platforms. I feel this is a new phenomenon that is emerging and the value-conscious consumers will always see the pros and cons of pricing.”
He further added, “We have always been an AVOD business and clearly drive that business in terms of the democratisation of content access, because we believe that content should be made available and monetisation should happen just like the way it happens on television. Given that 95% of Internet consumption happens on mobile devices, the user has the ability to make a choice of his affordability vis-à-vis his intent to pay v/s his value-consciousness of the quality of content. We have been clear on providing premium content free of cost and democratising access to content, resulting in mass appeal. It is not only about providing free content; it is also about providing the right kind of content.”
“At the core, we are a technology-first platform. We have always ensured that the product is dynamically growing and improving. We want to create better viewing experiences. We have also invested very heavily in technology. We have innovated to be the first global platform to use the compression technology H.266, which enables one to watch content with 70% less data consumption. With this, we have not compromised on the video quality, but instead, we have just compressed it, so that lesser data is used while streaming, giving us more engagement time. That is a huge differentiating factor that we have.”
“We have 3 main pillars – Product, Technology, and Content. Our AI and ML provide viewers with recommendations for them to keep trying and testing new content. We have over 200,000 hours of content across 800+ Original Series, Web Series, International, and Dubbed Content available on the platform free of cost across 12 different languages. Any show of ours is available in at least four languages. We have been able to create regional-first content and have reverse-dubbed them in Hindi very successfully. Another thing that we have been able to do very successfully is that we dub in such a manner that it connects with the masses. That is a big lever for us as it boosts content consumption across markets. We also have South films, and international content in Turkish, Mandarin, Spanish, and Korean,” said Gandhi.
Recently, MX Player acquired the Lionsgate library for international content. Speaking on this, Gandhi said, “Our partnership allows us to bring some of the most popular and commercially acclaimed Hollywood films to our viewers in their local languages. In the last three months, we launched a few MX Original Series like ‘Shiksha Mandal’ and our second long premium format series, ‘Tu Zakhm Hai’, and just recently, we launched our biggest blockbuster – ‘Dharavi Bank’, starring Suneil Shetty and Vivek Anand Oberoi. MX Studios launched brand-funded shows, ‘Uni Ki Yaari’ and its upcoming slate includes three more series – ‘Business Baazi’, ‘Salesman of the Year’, and ‘A Spin Around Dubai’. With back-to-back successes this year, we have been able to sustain and achieve mass scale, with 250 million users in India, and 350 million users globally.”
Speaking on the success of ‘Dharavi Bank’, Gandhi said, “‘Dharavi Bank’ was one of our most anticipated flagship properties this year, and going by the response it has received, it has already broken many records even before its launch. It was ranked 4th on IMDb’s Most Anticipated Show to Watch even before launch. We are the platform of choice for Suniel Shetty’s OTT debut. Anna, along with Vivek headlining the series that is set against the backdrop of Dharavi is something that has been never seen before. Our high decibel campaign ensured that we reached 1 in every 3 digitally active people in India, resulting in hitting 4X in subscriptions. Our advertiser response has also been overwhelming and we believe that the show is creating a lasting impact for all our stakeholders. The series is available in India, USA, and Canada and will soon be available across the globe to entertain our 350 million active users.”
Speaking further on advertiser interest, Gandhi said, “The largest lever for monetisation is advertising. We have advertising plans in multiple different demand segments and have more than 650 active advertisers on our platform. What we have been able to do is create an emerging markets team that goes into smaller markets and gets new advertisers. We are seeing humongous success from this outreach. Amplifying that, we have launched our own self-serve platform called, MX Advantage. As a new advertiser, you can log onto the system and create campaigns. We also help brands design their ads for advertisers who do not have the creatives. DanAds provides us with technical support. While we have only just started, we have more than 1,500 inquiries with over 50+ advertisers already advertising on MX Advantage.”
Sharing more details, he said, “MX is available as a video player across the world, and as an OTT, MX One expanded our OTT subscription services in over 55 countries internationally. MX Blue, our ad-free local player subscription service, was launched in 5 countries. We also launched our subscription service, MX Gold, which predominantly started as an ad-free offering for users. Everything that we do on content is available globally on both, AVOD and SVOD.”
Gandhi further added, “We have also launched many new features this year. We have a WhatsApp Status Saver, a Cloud service to store content, MX Share to share files without data, and much more. The biggest advantage is that we get anywhere between 8 lakhs and one million organic downloads in a day. Hence, we don’t spend on customer acquisition. Globally, we are the only Indian app to touch 1 billion downloads on Playstore.”
Speaking about their latest business, MX Live, he shared, “MX Live was launched to harness the power of Live entertainment and it grew rapidly to 5mn+ MAUs with over 2,500 streamers clocking 11.5 million hours of watch time. It is a D2C model, where one can gift creators by buying MX coins and MX tokens. Our user base is so large that any product that we launch within the MX ecosystem immediately gets a sizable number of users who come on our new features just to try it and then, it becomes a business on its own. On MX Live, some of our creators are earning Rs 8-10 lakh a month. We have users who spend Rs 1 lakh a month on their favourite content creators on MX Live. The live-streaming business is very nascent in India. While there are other players as well in the live-streaming business, we are ranked in the top two in that segment.”