It isn’t often that a web series drops its debut season and then follows up with a second season barely two and a half months later. Then again, Aashram isn’t your average series. Its story, about a criminal godman’s exploits in a fictional Indian town, clearly struck a chord with India’s masses. In December, barely three months since it first graced video streaming platform MX Player, it crossed one billion views.
Aashram’s formula—a salacious mix of sex, violence, and crime, set in India’s hinterland—has proven a winning combination for MX Player, and one that repeats across many of its original series. Others, such as Ek Thi Begum and Raktanchal, play out on similar lines. When MX Player isn’t attempting to titillate or scandalise, it reverts to romantic comedies and edgy thrillers to keep viewers hooked.
The target audience for the platform is fairly clear—young Indian males, more often than not from tier-2 and tier-3 cities and towns, in search of edgy, local fare they wouldn’t anywhere else. MX Player’s business model complements this demographic perfectly. Understanding that its audience is still new to the concept of subscriptions, the Times Internet and Tencent-backed platform is one of the few OTT players that is advertising rather than subscription-based.
The results are there for everyone to see. Apart from the individual success of shows like Aashram, MX Player has established itself as a bonafide contender in India’s hyper-competitive OTT space. Today, the platform boasts around 200 million monthly active users (MAUs) who come for its video content, both original and syndicated, as well as its other offerings like gaming and music streaming. In the latter, MX Player benefits from a tie-up with music streaming app Gaana, which also counts Times Internet and Tencent as investors.
Beyond having music, video, gaming and live TV, MX player is also integrated with Times Internet’s wildly successful TikTok clone, MX TakaTak. Since the Indian government banned TikTok and other Chinese apps in 2020 on the pretext of security concerns, TakaTak has emerged as the dominant short-format video app in the country. According to a report by global app analytics tracker App Annie, MX TakaTak currently controls over 50% of India’s short-format video market.
With such a diverse array of offerings, the App Annie report shows that MX Player is the top video streaming app in the country in terms of time spent by users.