Exclusive: Levaraging MX Player, Times Internet to launch OTT platform within two weeks

Times Internet

After e-commerce and digital payments, video content has emerged as a priority for several global companies including Amazon and Alibaba as well as local heavyweights such as Reliance.

Sensing a big opportunity in video streaming space and fear of missing out (FOMO), India’s largest digital media network Times Internet had acquired MX Player for about $200 million last year. The intention behind the acquisition is to enter video streaming segment.

Ever since taking over MX Player in January this year, Times Internet has been working to launch OTT service. Now, the company is all set to launch over the top (OTT) platform within the next two weeks.

“Last minute integrations are underway and it’s likely to go live as early as next week,” reveal two sources aware of the plan. While the name of the platform couldn’t be ascertained by Entrackr, it is likely to have MX branding and won’t include Times Internet branding on the app (as per sources).

“The company has on-boarded many content creators across genres including comedy, spiritual, lifestyle, cooking and others,” adds one of the sources quoted above. At the time of acquisition, TIL had maintained that it would come up with 20 original video series.

However, sources indicate that it would begin with third-party offerings. Originals will come into play after a few weeks of launch. “The internal strategy is to bring users and then hook them with original offerings,” add both sources.

Sources requested anonymity as they aren’t authorised to speak to media. The platform would cater to the young audience (between 18 to 35 age group). “To differentiate from Hotstar, TIL also did a feasibility study to target audience above 30 and up to 45. After this year, it may add shows for this audience base,” explained one of the sources.

Times Group is the country’s largest media group and has a formidable presence across print, television and digital channels. It can simply bundle content from these channels on its OTT platform. But, it won’t follow this strategy. “It plans to maintain distance from content which is already broadcasted on its television channels like Zoom, Movies Now and Mirror Now,” say sources.

Entrackr couldn’t ascertain the nature of original web series TIL is working upon. We have sent detailed queries to Times Internet on its OTT launch. We will update the post as response comes in.

Premium, as well as free video streaming segment, is on the rise in India. While free platforms have been registering immense growth in traction after Reliance Jio’s launch in September 2016, paid subscriptions offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime are also finding stable grounds.

Amazon Prime has about 13 million subscribers at the moment. Netflix reportedly has 500K paid subscribers in India. Its monthly subscription starts from Rs 500 and has 5 million app downloads.

Hotstar rules the free streaming space with 150 million monthly active users on its platform. It is said to have around 7 lakh paid subscription till mid-July this year.

Besides Amazon, Netflix, and ALT Balaji, YouTube is also creating scripted series and original programming for the Indian market. Meanwhile, Alibaba is slated to start OTT service with focus on video content less than 20 minutes.

With the entry of Times Internet in OTT, the segment would heat up with the competition. Initially, Times would compete with Hotstar, Voot, and ALT Balaji but going forward it can also emerge as serious competition to Amazon Prime and Netflix too.

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