US-based e-commerce giant Amazon has started discussions with Indian media company Times Internet to acquire MX Player, one of the largest on-demand video streaming services in India to bolster its presence in the entertainment space.
Times Internet, a subsidiary of 184-year-old Bennett Coleman and Company, which owns English newspapers Times of India and the Economic Times, has been selling off many businesses as part of its major restructuring drive. Times Internet has sold off edtech offering GradeUp and restaurant tech platform Dineout, and is also looking to sell its music streaming service Gaana.
India’s According to a report by TechCrunch, at least two more players including Zee-Sony have expressed interest in acquiring MX Player.
Amazon seeks advantage in consolidating marketplace
India’s OTT video space is currently dominated by Disney+Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, all of whom have been offering their services at “throwaway prices”, leading to consolidation in the market. The competition has resulted in a lot of OTT companies taking the aggregation route to sell their services through Indian telecom operators along with Amazon and Apple TV+.
The country’s OTT video market is expected to reach $3.76 billion in revenues in 2023, according to Statista.
Amazon, which has reportedly invested over $7 billion in India in the last ten years, has secured a substantial market share thanks to its affordable pricing. It also offers a free, ad-supported video streaming service in the country.
300 million MX Player users globally
Times Internet’s MX Player claims to have over 150 million active users in India and over 300 million users globally, thanks in part to reliable performance on low-cost Android smartphones and support for a wide range of video formats, the report added. It also offers access to live cable TV channels at no charge to consumers.
It had previously raised $110.8 million in a funding round led by Tencent at a valuation of $500 million.
MX Player, which was acquired by Times Internet for $140 million in 2018, also offers a premium service in many international markets.
MX Player laid off close to 100 employees from its India operations last year as part of an “optimisation” and “workforce transition” drive.
In February 2022, Tiger Global-backed ShareChat and MX Player merged their short video apps Moj and MX TakaTak. That deal was valued at $900 million.
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