India’s MX Player tops 1 billion downloads

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MX Player, the popular on-demand video streaming service, has crossed 1 billion downloads, joining a very small but high-profile list of apps globally to achieve this milestone. The firm, owned by Indian conglomerate Times Internet, is the first from the world’s second-largest market to make it to the group.

The app, which started its journey: a local video playback player, has grown tremendously over the past two years as startups have populated the platform with thousands of local and international movies and shows and several original titles, as well as people finding themselves locked in their homes with the new times due to the pandemic.

MX Players – which offers an ad-supported free app for only $2.6 per year with no ads – has also Expanded into many international markets Including Bangladesh, Middle East, Southeast Asia, the USA, and the UK. (India is its most popular market.)

MX player, Now page on Google Play Store 1 billion installs figure however, the startup — which has the majority of its users on Android — said it also sees a huge amount of downloads on several third-party stores. (It did not share figures for other stores.)

“We focused on two simple things: get the right content for the audience we have and make the product right for our users,” said Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player in an interview with TechCrunch.

Bedi said the startup has made rapid inroads into the market as very few players are producing content for the masses. Bedi, who previously ran Eros Now’s India business, pointed to the separation between players and spectators, while everyone claims they are trying to conquer the entire country.

Karan Bedi (Image Credit: Times Internet)

“When you look at the landscape, we have broadcast players who are putting their broadcast content on OTT with some small investment in producing original shows. Then we have international firms – Netflix and Amazon – that are focusing on the top 5% of the public,” he said.

“If you look at the content we’re going after, it’s very relatable to a wider audience,” he said.

Some of the original web shows produced or exclusively licensed by MX Player include Hello Mini, a thriller and romance story, Ashram, which is also in the thriller and crime genres, and Flames, a teen romance story. Citing an internal survey of MX Player conducted with its users, Bedi said that shows like “Indian Matchmaking”, which created a lot of buzz among Netflix users in India, did not find resonance with MX Player viewers.

MX Player, which also operates the popular short-video app MX Takatak, has emerged as one of the most aggressive firms to innovate and optimize product innovation. Its app also has in-app integration with the music service Gaana, which is owned by Times Internet, as well as mini-games.

The app was the first of any of the popular video services to deploy support for the H.266 video codec. The move has allowed the firm to reduce the amount of data users consume while streaming video by more than half – while also improving overall video quality.

Such improvements are even more important for firms like MX Player, Bedi said, because of the audience it is serving. “For example, we have a clear measure on the link between latency and engagement. The lower the latency, and we are talking about seconds here, we have seen a seven to eight percent jump in engagement.”

India is one of the fastest-growing entertainment markets in the world. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, and dozens of other international services are competing to win over users in the country, of which more than 700 million are online.

According to research firm Sensor Tower, there are fewer than 20 apps (not including apps from Google that come pre-installed on Android devices) that have been downloaded or installed a billion times. The firm confirmed to TechCrunch in August that no other Indian app was even close to hitting the milestone.


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