Amazon buys Indian video streaming service MX Player

Amazon has agreed to acquire Indian video streaming service MX Player from local media powerhouse Times Internet, the latest move by the e-commerce giant to make its services and brand popular in smaller cities and towns in the key overseas market. .

The two companies reached a final agreement late Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. The deal values ​​MX Player at less than $100 million, well below the $500 million valuation at which the streamer last raised its capital, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the companies have not yet raised, told TechCrunch. have commented publicly on the agreement. .

The deal caps nearly two years of deliberation between the two companies as they sought to find synergies between their properties. Times Internet and its subsidiary Times Group have been looking to sell many of their digital properties over the past two years.

TechCrunch reported in February last year that Amazon and MX Player were reaching a deal. Sony, which was simultaneously seeking to merge its India unit with media company Zee, also expressed interest in acquiring MX Player, but complications with the Zee deal derailed its efforts, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

In MX Player, Amazon gets a distribution and marketing partner who can help make the e-commerce platform more popular and trusted for audiences in India’s smaller cities and towns, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Amazon strategy. MX Player is especially popular among these demographics, and Amazon’s e-commerce service has long only been popular among urban consumers. Amazon will retain the MX Player brand, the source said.

Amazon and Times Internet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon has been expanding its video streaming offerings in India to make noise outside metropolitan cities. The company charges just $9.50 a year for a Prime subscription variant that includes a version of Prime Video. It also maintains many partnerships with local telecom operators to include Prime Video in their rate plans. In 2021, Amazon launched an additional free, but ad-supported, video streaming service in India.

Reliance, which operates the country’s largest retail chain, leads the video streaming services market in India with Disney. The two companies agreed to merge their media properties in India in late February. Together, their apps accounted for 55% of the monthly active users of all video streaming services in India. MX Player had a 15% market share, according to UBS. Netflix and Prime Video had between 3% and 5% market share each, the investment bank said.

Monthly active users of popular streaming services in India. Image: USB; Data: UBS and sensor tower

Times Internet acquired MX Player in 2018 for $140 million. The app, which originated from South Korea, gained immense popularity in India due to its unique local video playback feature. This functionality allows the app to support a wide range of video file formats, making it highly compatible with the affordable Android smartphones prevalent in developing markets.

Following the acquisition, Times Internet took strategic steps to transform MX Player from a local video streaming application to a comprehensive video streaming platform. The company has invested in populating the app with a wide range of original and licensed content, including TV shows, movies and games, to meet the growing demand for online entertainment in India and many international markets, including the UK and The USA.

In response to the Indian government’s ban on the popular short video app TikTok in mid-2020, MX Player also sought to take advantage of the opportunity and launched its own short video app (called MX TakaTak) to fill the gap in the market. Times Internet later sold the short video app to ShareChat, a leading social media platform in India, in a deal valued at over $650 million.

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