India’s most viewed local video app is raising $200m, sees 400% growth

MX Player – the video-streaming platform of Times Internet, the digital arm of India’s largest media conglomerate – is in advanced talks to raise US$200 million as part of its ongoing series B funding, two sources familiar with the company tell Tech in Asia.

The round, which is expected to close within the next few months, could feature existing as well as new investors, said one person with knowledge of the discussions. The source, however, didn’t divulge any names.

The funding comes on the back of a 400% month-on-month growth in revenue that MX Player has seen since COVID-19 struck, claims the source.

“In September, we recorded our highest [monthly] earnings. We have seen a rise in advertising spends that have moved towards over-the-top (OTT) services like our player due the lockdown,” said the person, who declined to share exact figures.

MX Player currently has 200 million monthly active users and is looking to boost that number to 500 million, the source claims.

Global expansion

The company will also use the fresh funds to further expand in markets that it just entered, such as the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka. In March this year, MX Player launched its services in seven countries including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

MX Player shows / Source: Times Internet

Times Internet didn’t respond to Tech in Asia’s queries about the deal.

In October 2019, MX Player raised US$110 million in a series A round from its parent company and Chinese tech titan Tencent.

MX Player appears to be crucial to Tencent’s plan to win a global content war against Netflix and Disney. The Chinese giant has been ramping up efforts to extend its entertainment empire beyond China, cutting across video, music, and gaming.

With its strong library of South Asian programming, MX Player looks set to go head-to-head against Disney’s Hotstar, which has also begun expanding outside India.

Times Internet acquired MX Player, which was originally based in South Korea, for US$200 million in January 2018. At that time, the service had 63.6 million Indian user downloads, and it was expected to give Times Internet a significant boost as it joined India’s already crowded video-steaming space.

Times Internet office in Gurgaon / Source: Times Internet

If concluded, this funding will be the second large investment into a Times Internet company in recent months. In September, its audio-streaming startup Gaana raised US$50 million in a round led by Tencent.

In February 2019, Times Internet and Chinese behemoth Alibaba invested US$2.2 million in Vidooly, an Indian video analytics company. This was the Gurgaon-headquartered conglomerate’s second round of investment into the startup.

A rising star

MX Player has been a leading video-streaming platform in India by unique viewers, which reached 139.6 million in August 2020, according to Comscore data. It was followed by Disney+ Hotstar with 107 million and Amazon Prime Video with 56.3 million.

YouTube, however, says it remains on top with 325 million unique viewers, based on Comscore data from May 2020.

Made with Flourish

Unlike many of its competitors, MX Player offers free content to users, which could boost its viewership figures. The service primarily runs on an advertising- supported model – advertising video on demand or AVOD. In comparison, platforms such as Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Video Prime, and Netflix have subscription-based models.

A majority of MX Player’s audience – 138.5 million unique viewers – comes through its mobile app.