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Tencent leads $110 million funding round in MX Player

The funding by Tencent will further intensify the competition in the domestic over the top, or OTT market which has been growing exponentially on the back of cheap mobile data, thanks to the price wars unleashed by Reliance Jio.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 30, 2019, 09.09 AM IST
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MX Player intends to use the fresh capital to bolster its content portfolio by acquiring as well as producing original programming, expand further in the entertainment genre and increase its talent pool.
NEW DELHI: Chinese technology giant Tencent is leading a $110-million (about Rs 780 crore) financing round in MX Player at around $500 million (around Rs 3,545 crore) valuation, said people close to the matter. This will be the video-streaming platform’s first external fundraising after its acquisition by Times Internet (TIL), which has also participated in the current round.

The funding will further intensify the competition in the domestic over the top, or OTT market which has been growing exponentially on the back of cheap mobile data, thanks to the price wars unleashed by Reliance Jio.

“MX Player was our most ambitious investment last year, and it has the potential to change mobile entertainment in India and in the world. It plays an important role in Times Internet’s strategy of being the largest consumer platform in India, and we’re excited to have Tencent help us in this mission,” said Satyan Gajwani, vice-chairman of Times Internet.

A study by market research firm Unomer said in June that MX Player was the second most used OTT platform after Hotstar.

Jeffrey Li , Managing Partner, Tencent Investment, said, "Within a relatively short period of time, MX Player has leveraged its vast user base and rich content library to be one of the leading video-streaming services in India. As the smartphone user base continues to expand in India, we look forward to working with MX Player to further grow its platform by delivering original content and a differentiated user experience."

To Bolster Content Portfolio
For Tencent, this is the second instance of the internet conglomerate backing a Times Internet property. It led a $115-million funding round in music streaming service Gaana in February last year. Times Internet is part of The Times Group, which also publishes this paper.

In 2018, Times Internet acquired a majority stake in MX Player, which was then a video playback app, from Chinese mobile games firm Zenjoy for an estimated Rs 1,000 crore. Kai Xia, the founder of Zenjoy, who is on the board of MX Player, had bought out the company from its South Korean founder in 2016.

MX Player intends to use the fresh capital to bolster its content portfolio by acquiring as well as producing original programming, expand further in the entertainment genre and increase its talent pool.

MX-player-graphic

Tencent has been expanding its video streaming platform Tencent Video outside of China with a recent launch in Thailand. The stake in MX Player will give it a foothold in the fast-growing Indian OTT market. The technology major has emerged as one of the largest investors in the Indian internet sector following its investments in high-profile homegrown startups including ride-hailing company Ola, edtech startup Byju’s and domestic online retail giant Flipkart, now sold to Walmart. In 2019, it has invested in business-to-business ventures such as Udaan and OkCredit, a bookkeeping app for small- and medium-sized businesses.

”Our vision is to be one of the world's largest entertainment platforms , serving our users across their online entertainment needs starting with streaming video and beyond,” Karan Bedi, chief executive of MX Player, told ET. “MX Player has partnerships with three of the five large television networks in India including Sony Entertainment and Sun TV Network, as well as with all the leading producers of web series in the country such as TVF and Dice Media, and other platforms that create web content like Hoichoi,” he added.

The video-streaming platform, according to Bedi, has about 280 million monthly active users globally with a presence in over 200 countries, and is currently in the beta stage in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In India, it has about 175 million monthly active users.

MX Player started its journey as a local content player before converting into an OTT platform, building its own streaming technology and formally launching earlier this year. It competes with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar in Asia’s third-largest economy, where the video OTT market, currently pegged at Rs 23,000 crore, is anticipated to touch Rs 62,000 crore by 2024, according to an industry report published by KPMG.

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