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As OTT race heats up, MX player eyes non-Hindi, non-metro markets for growth

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Gautam Talwar, Content Head, MX Player talks about the growth trajectory of the streaming platform, why he thinks interactive content is the future of OTT industry and the looming fear of a third wave of the pandemic

Gautam Talwar

As competition intensifies in the OTT space, streaming platform MX player is focusing more on the non-Hindi and non-metro markets.

The platform is now looking at producing long-format content for itself on the AVOD platform.

With more than 200 million monthly active users, the platform hosts a wide library of over 200,000 hours of premium content across 10 languages, including originals, exclusives, movies, web series, TV shows, news and audio music.

“We are looking at some amount of long-format content to produce ourselves in the near future,” Gautam Talwar, Content Head of MX Player, told BestMediaInfo.com.

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With an unprecedented spike in video consumption amid the pandemic, the platform, too, has witnessed a steep growth.

“Growth during the pandemic has been absolutely phenomenal and we had great successes with the shows. During April, May and June, there have been phenomenally good results across tier II to III towns,” he said.

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The platform aims to become even bigger this year. Last year, it witnessed 3x growth in engagement and 2x growth in user base. In 2021, it aims to reach the masses and break the barrier.

“The number of brands that have come on board has increased amid the pandemic. For both MX Player and TakaTak, we have got a very healthy relationship with advertisers to,” he said.

Asked how it plans to attract new users and retain the existing audience given the advent of many new OTT players, he said it is ensuring a constant inflow of content on the platform.

"We are launching a new show literally every two weeks. Our user retention numbers are good too," he said. 

MX Player has become the world’s first OTT platform to upgrade its video encoding and compression technology to H.266 (versatile video coding) that slashes data usage for streaming videos by more than half. 

Talwar said there is a constant, on-going investment on the technological front to enhance the user experience.

“This is such a process of investing in technological advancement. Doesn’t matter which device the user has, what matters is the experience of watching the show. We are always increasing our investment at this front,” he said.

Apart from that, with the fear of a possible third wave of Covid looming large, the platform is buckling up to finish shooting.

Talwar said the pandemic caused havoc for all players in terms of restrictions in shooting.

“We had a lot of shows in the pipeline and had to stop shooting across the country during the first wave. The impact on content has been massive, the effect of which was there for everybody to see during the last two quarters. There are some pieces of content right now that we have finished shooting, which will hopefully release soon. But right now, because of restrictions in Mumbai, we have moved a lot of stuff outside Maharashtra to see if we can shoot somewhere else,” he said.

The platform recently launched Samantar 2, which claims to be one of the biggest regional shows yet across platforms. The thriller has been much appreciated in non-vernacular areas — roughly 45% users are from the dubbed Hindi version. Originally a Marathi series, the show has been dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Talwar said it's a great story, very well made. And that is the only thing, he said, a platform can rely on.

“I think it's one of the biggest investments in the regional show that has ever been made by any platform. Our investment in regional is the highest,” he said.

Sharing insights on the overall rise in video consumption, he said content interactivity is the future.

“The biggest thing as an opportunity that is pending in the market is interactivity with content. That will be the next level of creation of content. So how engaged and interactive can you make the content with your audience? Do they have a say in the storyline or the content? That probably will be the future of content, along with AR and VR. I think the level of interactivity with content that we put out there is going to definitely see a rise in the near future. And we're all working towards that,” he said.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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