Venkata Susmita Biswas

MX Player working on user retention

India’s second largest video streaming platform is creating 50-episode long shows to bring viewers to the app every day.

After establishing itself a destination for edgy content spanning 12 Indian languages, MX Player now wants to woo viewers to the platform day after day, every day. Nikhil Gandhi, COO, MX Player, reveals that the streaming platform is “toying with long-format series to attract television audience.”

Nikhil Gandhi
Nikhil Gandhi

Roohaniyat, a newly launched MX Serial, is a 52-episode show and the first of three others in the premium-long format offering from MX Player. Gautam Talwar, chief content officer, MX Player, says that these 50-episode long shows are aimed at retaining users on the platform. “If viewers like the characters in the show they will keep coming back everyday, not necessarily at the same time like TV appointment viewing but visit on a daily basis at a time of their choosing,” says Talwar.

MX Player working on user retention

OTT shows tend to have few episodes per season. Aashram, the most successful show on the platform has nine episodes each in two seasons and season three of the show will have 10 episodes. Bhaukaal, another show, has 10 episodes in each season.

These shows are also aimed to appeal to women who watch MX Player. Gandhi says that women on the platform tend to spend 30% more time watching content than men. Around 25% of viewers on MX Player are women.

While Gandhi did not divulge the quantum of budget that has been set aside for original content in FY23, Talwar wished he had more dollars to create originals for the platform. “We have a very sharp eye on cost per minute. We are very efficient on this metric,” says Gandhi.

MX Gold, the platform’s ad-free service, is nominally priced at Rs 199 annually and is purely for viewers who want to access HD content in advance and in an ad-free environment. Revenue from advertising is the platform’s mainstay.

Gandhi maintains that the platform was built keeping the mass audience in mind. Talwar observes that it is tough to extract money from an audience that is time rich in a poor country. In FY22 the company’s AVoD business grew 40% and Gandhi is targeting a 200% growth in FY23. MX Player wants to reach non-metro cities and give people living in those cities access to premium content free of cost. He believes that 'free' is what is synonymous to Bharat.

Given the shows that the platform is most known for like Aashram, Bhaukaal, Raktanchal, and the largely Hindi content it streams, MX Player is slotted as an OTT platform that serves men in the cow-belt. Gandhi wants to dispel this misconception. About 27% of the platform’s user base comes from the five South Indian states. “Viewers from South India consume 1.2 times more content than a Hindi heartland user,” he says. And they watch dubbed versions of the popular Hindi language shows on the platform while viewers from North India watch south Indian shows dubbed in Hindi.

Shows on MX Player are dubbed in multiple languages and viewers can opt to watch Aashram and Samantar in Bengali, Telugu or Tamil. “We have observed that the appetite for consumption is high and we have a lot of scope for growth since we have removed the language barrier,” says Gandhi.

The streaming platform has its blinders on and is focused on viewers who watch content on their little 11 inch screens. Talwar says that the company is creating content for the individual viewer and not a collective family that may sit in front of a flatscreen TV and watch shows together. He says that content consumption behaviour has moved from family viewing to individualised consumption. And that this change is here to stay.

About 95% of all OTT viewing takes place on mobile phones, Talwar says. Further, the 10-15 million connected TV households pale in comparison to the 500-600 million smartphone users in India, Gandhi points out.

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