Our streaming base is growing by 20% per month: Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player

Bedi says they are quite happy with the current ad-led model and are not looking at paid subscriptions for the moment

by Neeta Nair
Published - Oct 15, 2019 8:23 AM Updated: Oct 15, 2019 8:23 AM

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KaranBedi

It’s been more than a year since the South Korea-headquartered MX Player was acquired by Times Internet. In a conversation with exchange4media, CEO Karan Bedi talks about the platform’s growth since its acquisition, future plans and more.

 Excerpts

 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 and monetisation are the three big pillars that any successful OTT platform needs to have. And 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 audio on demand in India, compared to TV networks across Hindi or other languages, or web series, or movies, or live channels. And monetisation is the third step that we are happily moving towards.

 

Have you decided on the subscription model for monetisation for MX Player yet?

Monetisation 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 monetisation models, as we don’t believe that just one model can be enough. There could be multiple monetisation models in the paid layer. 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 who have converted to streaming has been extremely high. 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 per cent 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 we made either daily soaps or films, and have not been used to producing these multi-episode season kind of content, supply is taking a little bit of time to catch up. I think people are also learning how to create for this pattern. So, there are some short-term up-downs on supply-demand. But I think overall, cost was stabilised quite quickly.

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