We are working towards building engagement in the regional belt: Abhishek Joshi, MX Player

Abhishek Joshi, Head, Marketing & Business Partnerships at MX Player, on the platform’s journey so far and what is driving the growth in the OTT industry

by Shikha Paliwal
Published - Aug 14, 2019 7:56 AM Updated: Aug 14, 2019 8:39 AM

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Abhishek Joshi

It has only been six months since MX Player debuted as a mainstream OTT player and already it is the rising star of the industry. A recent survey reported how MX Player was the second most popular OTT entertainment app after Hotstar. exchange4media reached out to Abhishek Joshi, Head of Marketing & Business Partnerships at MX Player to understand what is driving the growth in the OTT industry and what’s in store for MX Player.

Report after report predicts a healthy growth for the OTT industry. A recent PwC report said the OTT industry will grow by CAGR of 21.82 per cent to reach Rs 11,977 crore by 2023.Your view on this.

Today, everyone — be it young, old, urban or rural is hooked to their phone screens. The numbers on our own platform are staggering with over 700+ million downloads and 175 million monthly active users only in India. The industry recognizes the changing preferences of the consumer, whose need for individual-oriented content is growing tremendously. India’s appetite for entertainment continues to increase with the advent of high-speed broadband connectivity, ease of payment options and availability of multiple platforms which sets the apt stage for consumers. As part of the fastest growing entertainment and media market globally, all I can say is that its onward and beyond from this point on. 

Where do you see the growth coming from? Will Tier 2 and 3 cities contribute to this growth story or is OTT largely a metro phenomenon?

We need to understand that India is not a single market but a combination of multiple smaller, markets, each with its own unique demographics and preferences. The pie of viewers who actively stream video content in India is growing beyond urban areas and there is a marked change in the rural content consumption pattern where there is widespread internet penetration. The great Indian OTT race’s finish line is no longer in cities with studies showing over 65 percent video consumption is coming from the rural parts of the country. We serve audiences not just in the top eight cities but at scale across the country, where even Facebook and YouTube are not fully present yet. More so, we witness an increasing adoption of our platform in Tier II and Tier III cities directly proportionate to the internet penetration growth in our country. 

MX Player has ramped up its regional content. Are you looking at regional play more aggressively?

With a brand philosophy of ‘Everytainment’ - MX Player has always strived to provide content for segments across age groups/ demographics. Our aim is to go beyond India to the true ‘Bharat’. We especially are working towards building engagement in the regional belt that caters to the larger heartland and our research reflects a steady rise in engagement numbers on the app across Tier II and Tier III markets.

Keeping this in mind we have already launched 2 MX Originals in the south with ‘Lots of Love’ (Tamil/Telugu) and ‘F-Buddies’ (Tamil) as well as MX Exclusives – ‘Aani Kay Hava’ (Marathi), ‘Do Not Disturb’ (Gujarati) and Kalyanam Conditions Apply 2.0’ (Tamil) recently. We also had a regional rendition of ‘Famously Filmfare’, a marquee chat show produced across seven languages and hosted by top actors in these regions. We also have tentpole properties like ‘Queen’ starring Ramya Krishnan in the lead, directed by Gautham Menon that narrates the story of a contemporary political icon who ruled with benevolence as well as with an iron hand. Another project which is in the making is the epic historical drama called ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ helmed by Soundarya Rajinikanth.

What marketing mix are you using to promote MX player? 

For each campaign, we identify levers that help us segment the audiences by asking questions like where does our audience consume most of their content? What are the sites which have maximum visibility during peak hours? The point is to reach the right audience at the right time, at the right place and with the right messaging. Therefore, a 360-degree marketing campaign is key to a brand like ours which holds such mass appeal. So billboards, radio, traditional television, brand associations, or influencers — our approach taps each tool but that said, it is always dependent on the story and the narrative of the series which eventually leads to the route, mediums and strategy to use for a particular show.

What are the challenges faced by OTT players in India?

The OTT space is highly competitive/dense at the moment with all the OTT players vying for the same share of consumer mind space. Discovery in the multiple range of offerings from multiple screens is a massive challenge given the sheer amount of content that is being produced and uploaded. 

Netflix has announced a mobile only plan, Altbalaji and Zee5 have announced a content partnership. The OTT wars are heating up. How is MX Player gearing up for the competition?

I believe that competition is a must if there is to be growth in quality and each platform will use the competitive advantage it has! As far as we are concerned – the fact that we are the only Indian entertainment app to offer premium content to binge for free already grabs a lot of eyeballs, especially given the multitude of offerings we have for our viewers. Our slate of originals span genres like drama, comedy, romance, urban love stories etc catering to every need and want of the discerned viewer. Building the momentum, we will continue to invest in product, technology and marketing as well as an increasing base of original content that will attract new viewers and retain our existing viewers.

Post the NTO regime and due to big to ticket events like General Elections, IPL and the World Cup, advertising has been soft. Do you think it’s time for advertisers to look at the digital space more seriously versus traditional mediums?

To my mind, that is a transition which has already taken place with both marketers and advertisers including social and digital as a big chunk in their media mix. The fact that OTT platforms are able to move away from wholesome family entertainment and tailor-make content for multiple TGs allows you to use data to target specific consumers and get your messaging out there in a brand-safe environment. The way advertising is targeted changes the moment you have a mobile in your hand and keeping that in mind, a lot of campaigns are going digital first now. This is a medium which now occupies a large portion of the spends and it will only continue to increase.

 

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