MX Player’s acquisition by Indian media giant Times Internet Limited (the online arm of the Times Group) took a lot of people in the Android community by surprise. Times Internet paid around $140 Million for a majority stake in one of India’s most popular video players, one that boasts of 500 Million downloads on the Play Store. Of these, 350 Million downloads came from India, and the country contributes 175 Million active users towards MX Player’s popularity.
As was mentioned at the time of acquisition, MX Player is evolving from a simple offline video player into a video-on-demand application. The new MX Player will bring English and regional content with personalized recommendations to users in India, and you can already experience the future of the popular app through MX Player Beta on the Google Play Store.
As mentioned to Beebom in an interview by MX Player’s CEO and its CPO, the app’s upcoming avatar will have “one of the single largest libraries of original content on digital platforms” with contents from a variety of genres including romance, thrillers, drama, and non-fiction entertainers such as reality shows and game shows as well as content in Indian regional languages. The team behind MX Player is also working to create “about 40” original shows. The app will also get the ability to stream live TV channels, as well as movies.
All of these will be monetized through a freemium model (incorporating Advertisement-based VoD) in an attempt to grab as much market share as possible from similar services from Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video.
MX Player will also reportedly employ neural networks for personalizing recommendations for its users. These algorithms and the app itself are being built from the ground up in India, prioritizing the needs and expectations of Indian consumers, and specifically those between the ages of 18 and 35. There are optimizations for low internet speeds, poor connectivity and fluctuating networks, as well as the ability to download video content and share it.
Interestingly, the app will also feature content from independent content creators. The company intends to “open doors for independent creators irrespective of their experience or the size of their existing audience base“, and this content acquisition will be on a revenue-sharing basis that will also feature bonuses for performance. To us, this sounds a lot like what YouTube does, or at least attempts to do.
The new MX Player is certainly ambitious, as it is moving forward from a local video player to an app that aims to compete against the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hotstar and even YouTube in the Indian market. The beta app currently features videos that are taken from YouTube, and a small catalog of popular content from TV and movies. The recommendation section is a work-in-progress, but this would be the primary point of discovery in the app. In its current form, the app still has a long way to go.
If you would like to try out this new MX Player, check out the Beta app. As the app is in Beta and the final app with the new approach has not launched yet, it is best to keep your expectations grounded. And if you feel overwhelmed by these changes and would rather prefer to look for an alternative to MX Player, there is always VLC.