China's Tencent, India's Times Internet Lead $110M Investment in Indian Streamer MX Player

'Flames' Still - Publicity - H 2019
MX Player

Tencent is already quite active in India's digital ecosystem, having invested in music service Gaana and ride-hailing app Ola, among others.

Chinese internet giant Tencent is leading a $110 million investment in Indian streamer MX Player along with Times Internet, which already holds a majority stake in the company. Times Internet is part of leading Indian media group Bennett Coleman, which owns the Times of India newspaper, among others.

Times Internet first acquired a majority stake in MX Player in 2017 for $140 million from Chinese mobilie games firm Zenjoy, which continues to be a shareholder. Tencent had earlier invested in music app Gaana, also owned by Times Internet. MX Player started out as a video playback app and formally launched as an OTT service in February. It currently claims more than 175 million monthly active users in India and 280 million globally as it takes on rivals such as Netfix, Amazon and Disney-owned Hotstar in India's rapidly expanding OTT market.

The streamer currently operates as an ad-supported service and does not charge users a subscription fee. In addition to movies and shows, the service also offers access to about 200 TV channels from networks such as Sony Entertainment Television and South Indian service Sun TV while integrating music service Gaana.

MX Player also plans to beef up its original slate to 35 shows, unveiling 20 new series across multiple languages, including political biopic Queen, revenge drama Ek Thi Begum and crime thriller Call It Magic. They add to its existing lineup, which includes youth dramas ImMature, Thinkistan, Flames and Hello Mini.

"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," said Tencent Investment managing partner Jeffrey Li in a statement. He added: "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."

MX Player CEO Karan Bedi added, “We’re happy to welcome our new partners, whose investment is a glowing endorsement of our stellar growth and huge future potential. Our vision is to be one of the world's largest entertainment platforms, serving our users across their online entertainment needs, starting with video streaming and beyond."

Tencent's investments in India also include ride-hailing app Ola, education startup Byju’s and Indian online shopping giant Flipkart, which was sold to Walmart last year.