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MX Player's content play for OTT platform launch

The company will be investing more than industry averages on the product, tech as well as content

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MUMBAI: In the last two years, India’s media and entertainment industry has witnessed the emergence of several over-the-top (OTT) players. With an ambition to gain a foothold in the burgeoning OTT space, Times Internet  recently acquired a majority stake in Seoul-based MX Player. While the company is yet to reveal the exact launch timelines, the last quarter of this year is likely to mark the entry of another big-ticket aspirant. With a team of 150 employees, the platform is prepping up for its grand launch with at least five to six premium shows.

Like many other OTT platforms, MX Player also intends to tap into the millennial audience, the age group of 18-35. Despite the mushrooming of digital platforms, young India is hungry for more content, making the play easier for new entrants.

MX Player content head Gautam Talwar thinks the need for content has not been satiated by the current television offerings.

“We are understanding their specific need states and making sure that the programming is aligned to satisfying those need states via our original programming and curated licensing strategy,” he said in an interaction with Indiantelevision.com.

Talwar claims that the local video platform has approximately 65 million daily active users and 175 million monthly active users who are spread across the country. They want to cater to those consumers specifically with 50000 hours to 100000 hours of premium curated licensed content along with the originals.

However, the content head says they want to mainly focus on originals. He is optimistic about showcasing 20-25 original shows for the year 2018 – 2019, slating five to six shows for the launch. The content will not be limited to fiction only.

For offering premium content, the streamer is working with noted faces from both the film and television industry.

“We have directors like Shashanka Ghosh( Veere Di Wedding), Shashant Shah (Chalo Dilli/ Dasvidaniya) Samar Sheikh (Girl in the city/ Bobby Jasoos), Siddharth.P.Malhotra (We are family/ Hichki), Gautham Menon (Ondraga Films) in the fiction space along with working with writers like Habib Faisal (Do Dooni Chaar/ Ishaqzaade) and Abbas Tyrewala (Maqbool and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na) to develop some key shows for us. We are also making sure that we leverage our internal group strength by having WWM (Filmfare/Femina) produce a show that has all the top regional celebrities on one of our key show. Similarly, we are working with the best of the non - fiction teams in the industry with new formats and thinking that we believe will appeal to this new generation of consumers,” he said.

To enrich its library, they are looking at leveraging both their house production team and talent from within the industry. Apart from riding on the back of the Times Studio, they are also working with producers and production houses from outside the industry.

Victor Tango, music director Shameer Tandon, Sunshine Productions are already working with the team and talks are on with a whole bunch of external producers who have put out good content across mediums. The platform will leave no stone unturned for providing customers with a seamless experience, with Talwar highlighting that MX player will be “investing more than industry averages on the product, tech as well as content”.

To stand out in the crowded Indian OTT landscape, content differentiation and deep pockets for effective marketing of the product is essential. While customer acquisition will not be a challenge for MX Player, but to build a loyal fan base the content will have to be extremely compelling.

“Our differentiation is at multiple levels. At a product level, we have acquired probably the best product in the market since it has been the top 10 apps on the play store for a very long period of time along with having a massive consumer base already. Along with that we believe our focus of Original premium content and curated licensed content would differentiate us and finally our business model which is AVOD would help with consumers who won't have any barriers to sampling and consuming our content at will,” Talwar commented.

Interestingly, the platform will focus on South Indian market with Tamil, Telugu content from the get go. They have a bunch of premium curated web series, which have been licensed as well as originals specific for the target audience. Moreover, the streamer has some big originals, due for a year end release, in its pipeline for the Indian market.

It is certain that the Times group will use all its might to promote the brand well, with OOH playing a key role in the media mix. With the launch of MX Player, not only will consumers have more content options, the industry too will be benefitted. On the other hand existing players, especially, international streaming giants Netflix and Amazon will see some potential competition.

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