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MX Player, which started as an AVoD service, is experimenting with an affordable subscription plan

The MX Player video streaming platform, which has relied solely on ad revenue since its launch, introduced a premium subscription service called MX Gold in August this year. Priced at Rs 199 per year, MX Gold offers subscribers an ad-free viewing experience in addition to early access to new releases.

MX Player claims to have 200 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in India and reached one billion downloads in October of this year. The platform was acquired by Times Internet in 2018 for $ 140 million. It has since attracted $ 110.8 million in investment from Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Mass call

In 2021, MX Player released over 40 new shows, including MX Originals and MX Exclusives (acquired content) and international dubbed content in the MX Vdesi content category. In more than two years, MX Player has created over 55 original shows. Nikhil Gandhi, COO, MX Media, said the platform plans to add two new shows each month.

Aashram, a crime drama starring Bobby Deol, is one of his shows. Other originals on the Ek Thi Begum, Bhaukaal, and Matsya Kaand platform have similar racy and dark themes, and all take place in small towns in northern India. Besides its original shows, another major audience driver on the platform is its list of international and regional content dubbed in Hindi.

The ad-supported nature of the platform combined with its choice of content indicates that MX Player is targeting a non-urban audience that is not served by international subscription-only platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well. than other broadcasters supported. video streaming applications that place their original content behind paywalls.

“We built MX Player as an AVoD service and aligned our entire business model to target the masses,” says Gandhi. But he maintains that the public is not limited to only Level II and III markets. The platform is targeting users of affordable Android smartphones in metropolitan cities and beyond. Media buying executives estimate that over 50% of the platform’s audience resides in non-metro areas, and around 80% of the app’s user base is male.

Mixed offer

In February 2020, MX Player added a strategic addition to its mobile app: games. The platform is home to over 100 hyper casual games that also present an opportunity for monetization. MX TakaTak, a TikTok clone, also resides in the MX Player app in addition to being a separate app.

Tim Mulligan, executive vice president and research director, MIDiA Research, points out that adopting a multi-pronged content strategy as well as bundles is also the direction international platforms are taking. The Apple One subscription includes Apple Music, Apple TV +, Apple Arcade, and iCloud +. Netflix also introduced games to mobile devices this year. “The sticking points of digital adoption are around ease of access and cost of service. Having a single solution for both reduces friction and increases retention, ”says Mulligan.

Interestingly, the subscription service doesn’t put any content behind the paywall. Gandhi says the company has taken a feature-based approach to the paid service. “The SVoD offer is intended for the loyal audience of the platform who are looking for an ad-free viewing experience,” he adds. Subscribers who want to watch free content have access to the original content three to four weeks after the show premieres.

Shailesh Kapoor, Founder and CEO of Ormax Media, says opting for a hybrid revenue model is necessary for platforms like MX Player, as advertisers spend the majority of their digital ad budgets on platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. According to the FICCI-EY Media and Entertainment 2021 report, only 13% of all digital ad spend goes to OTT platforms.

According to the Ormax OTT: 2021 audience report, the digital video audience in India is 353.2 million, of which 110.5 million are paid subscribers. Analysts say the Indian public has a greater tolerance for advertising. “Unless a show is highly anticipated, so people would want to see it when it premieres, the Early Access model isn’t a one-off proposition,” notes Kapoor.

Gandhi says the initial response to the subscription offer has been encouraging. But is the pricing sustainable? “There will be a tremendous amount of pricing innovations that we will make to address our entire user base pyramid,” he said.

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