Present in more than 250 countries, MX Player claims to have 300 million monthly active users (MAUs) worldwide. Originally launched as an advertising video-on-demand (AVOD) platform, MX Player launched MX Player Gold – a subscription video on demand (SVOD) model last year. With over 160,000 hours of original content, the platform recorded an average time of 56 minutes. In a conversation with Brandwagon Online, MX Player Chief Content Officer Gautam Talwar talks about the platform’s content strategy for the year next to GoFest 2022. (Edited part)
In the last two years, OTT has increased. How has MX Player benefited from this emergence and what is the trend of content usage that you have noticed?
We are a three and a half year old organization and we have seen unprecedented tensions during the epidemic. An overall cost pattern has changed strategically. Viewers have become accustomed to sitting at home watching content. The epidemic has accelerated that movement for the entire industry to see OTT very quickly. Post that, for most teens, viewing OTT content is the number one priority. Most of them are television cord cutters and it will benefit the whole industry.
What content are you planning to invest in FY23 and what is your content strategy for the year?
We are the first national OTT players who have invested heavily in regional languages and created successful shows like this The queen And Parallel. Our investment in regional content is strategic and has a long-term goal attached to it. We understand the benefits of regional content and the reach of MX Player distribution – considering we are second only to YouTube – consumers are already there. My theaters are already full, all I have to do is make sure I give them the right materials to use so I can hold them. So for us, regional languages are very important and our content strategies are very specific.
Concerned about the overall content strategy, the sheer scale of the platform and the number of our viewers, delivering content to them on a daily basis is a big task. For us, the limitation is not on demand, but on supply. We need to make sure that the story we are telling them is relevant to them. Our content strategy isn’t changing much from what it was three years ago, but we’re experimenting with some new formats. For example, last month we came up with a new show Spirituality Which is a premium long format show. Although most web-series consist of 10-12 episodes, this is the first time we’ve released a 52-episode long show and there are more shows following this lead. We have noticed that Turkish, Mandarin, Korean shows on our platform have increased the cost a lot and increased our viewing time. So, we are trying to replicate the long-format by giving our listeners something more relevant.
MX Player is available in 13 languages and has 200 million MAU in India. Which markets would you like to focus more on this year?
Our main strength has always been the Hindi speaking market (HSM belt). We have many big markets in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi NCR. Therefore, most of our content is designed for this mass audience.
With MX Gold, you have also entered the SVOD market. Do you now see AVOD as a way to convert new users to paid customers on the platform?
Currently, MX Gold is just a feature to provide ad-free content to our viewers. Our users can view every content available on the platform, with MX Gold they will have the option of ad-free viewing unlike any other platform. At the moment, we are very happy to be AVOD because we have seen great success in recording the number of our users as well as the viewing time.
In terms of movies released on OTT, do you believe that certain movies, such as AG and Niche, will now be released in theaters for OTT?
I believe movies are subscription driven because movies cost a lot Due to the epidemic the movies were released on OTT two years ago, now there are some movies that are being made exclusively for digital release. These movies have a different description because they do not carry the same dramatic flair as the movies intended for the big screen. On the front, there is a possibility that digital first films may also go for theatrical release later.
Are you going to focus more on making the original this year or gaining media rights to the content? Which format brings you more visitors?
It’s a mixed bag for us. The main content is created behind the consumer. We create the core content behind the data we collect from consumers. Since licensed content has already been created and may or may not work for our visitors. Therefore, investing in original content as opposed to licensed content will have an added value to us.
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