You would have probably read or heard about the acquisition of the South Korean media player by Times Internet, for $140 million. It is probably the biggest acquisition by an Indian media company outside the television space! But do you know what was the reason behind it?
Today, online video streaming is probably the hottest space in the media business. With growing popularity of Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, The Times of India group, which is India’s largest media companies, was having a difficult time to compete in this domain. Well, until now!
The group launched an OTT (over the top) service, BoxTV.com , in 2013. Well, to summarise, it was a disaster, and the service was shut down in 2016. But now, the Times Management has a radically different approach – buy MX Player for Rs 1,000 crore, or around $140 million. The company didn’t disclose its stake but said it is a majority percentage.
The service originates from Korea but it has become hugely popular in India as a way to play media files, for example from an SD card, on a mobile device. It is a huge hit India, where the app claims 175 million monthly users — while the country accounts for 350 million of its 500 million downloads.
So the plan is to use this platform’s enormous user base, to introduce a streaming content service. This service is expected to go live by August and aims to release an estimated 20 original shows and more than 50,000 content across multiple local languages in India during the first year of its launch.
Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player, hopes to enhance the users viewing experience by adding a whole new world of content to the existing functionality. He also said that a lot of people aren’t happy with the Indian TV-shows, which are primarily soaps, and not targeted to the youth and millennials. And so, it seems, this not only plays into growing a place for ‘millennial’ content, but it also means the streaming service may find success with advertisers if it can offer a gateway to young Indians.
Satyam Gajwani, Times Internet MD, has also said that the idea is to gently introduce programming that is accessible to a large audience in India, who might not be open to paying, and then test other revenue models later.
By entering into this huge venture, Times Management hopes to take control of the online video streaming market. Can Times Internet leverage that organic growth to build a relatively same, yet different business on top of the basic demand for video playback? Lets hope they do!
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