Times Internet, part of a group that includes the Times of India newspaper and website, announced that it has acquired a majority stake in MX Player, a popular video playing app for Android, to the tune of $146 million USD. Times Internet had reportedly been in negotiations with the Korea-based MX Player since January, and Times Internet is gearing up to make MX Player part of a new video streaming service.
MX Player has been one of the most popular video playing apps on Android, with Google counting over 500 million downloads on its Play Store, and about 6.4 million user ratings with an average of 4.5 out of 5. In countries where offline videos have been favored over video streaming -- like India -- apps like MX Player have been particularly successful. In fact, according to the Times website, 350 million of those downloads have occurred on its home turf.
Gautam Sinha, CEO of Times Internet, said 400 million Indians are using the Internet regularly, so MX Player already has an enormous reach within the country; India's total population stood at 1.32 billion as of 2017, and it's on pace to eclipse China within the next decade as the most populous nation in the world.
However, Times Internet doesn't plan to keep the MX Player offline. Instead, it will be a streaming portal for "over 20" original shows and more than 50,000 hours of "premium content across all languages" by this time next year. Karen Bedi, CEO of MX Player, told the Times, "We are building a content experience with the quality of mainstream media, but designed specially and exclusively for Indian millennials that are digital-first." That said, both parties assert that MX Player's offline capabilities will remain intact.
- With MX Player's already huge presence in India, this acquisition doesn't come as a surprise -- though Times Internet's plans for original streaming content are relatively new and ambitious for the Indian market.
- Monetization plans have not been publicly discussed, but past precedent for this market indicates that revenue will come from advertisements in the app, rather than from subscriptions. For reference, Netflix in India reports only a half-million subscribers as of June 2018.
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