When was the last time you used a video app on your Android smartphone?

Probably last night, just before calling it a day from a tiring start to the week. Chances are that the last used video app on your smartphone is maybe one of these: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar, or YouTube. But what if we told you about a little-known app, well, little known to the urban elite, but one which a vast majority of India uses. One that you may have never heard of. Beyond metros, on low-end smartphones, one that renders the best picture quality and plays every format. A popular use case, by the way, is playing videos downloaded from WhatsApp, and of course, watching porn.

This app does not have an official website. Only a Facebook page.

It is called MX Player, an app made by a company in South Korea. But it is so popular in India that it has inspired several knockoffs on the Google Play Store. Last year alone, over 63.6 million Indian users downloaded it on their Android smartphones, according to mobile insights and data company AppAnnie. This includes both low-end and high-end smartphones, with the split said to be somewhere between 80% to 20% respectively. Year after year, MX Player has found a place on India’s app usage lists and reports, each year in the top 10. Both in terms of downloads and monthly active users.

It will be fair to say that somewhere in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, a certain JH Kim, is becoming a rich man. Overnight. About $200-million rich. Because that is the money Gurugram-based Times Internet Limited (TIL) has paid to acquire a majority stake in his company, J2 Interactive. The deal, completed a few weeks ago, sources say, is all in cash. Where did TIL get access to $200 million in cash considering its yearly revenue is just shy of the $200 million number? Sources say, from the parent company, Bennett Coleman & Co (BCCL). The Ken couldn’t independently verify this.

Times Internet Limited declined to respond to The Ken’s questions about the acquisition.

Of all of them, the most important one is the $200 million question; why MX player?

The short answer to this question is that TIL wants to take yet another shot at the already overcrowded over-the-top (OTT) video space. It will launch its service in the coming months, somewhere around the second quarter of 2018. MX Player gives the company instant scale.

Now Times Internet already caters to a monthly active user base of 270 million. Now add another 100 million to this. And with that comes a readymade presence in Android smartphones, not just in India, but around the world.

AUTHOR

Venkat Ananth

Venkat is currently in his tenth year in journalism. Prior to The Ken, he was Deputy Content Editor at Mint as part of the newspaper’s digital team. He also wrote in-depth features on the business of sport for the newspaper. His earlier assignments include Yahoo! (as a columnist) and the Hindustan Times, where he began his career. Born in Mumbai, Venkat holds a Bachelor of Mass Media (Journalism) degree from SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai and a Master of Arts degree in International Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London. He currently resides in New Delhi, where he moved nearly five years ago.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?

MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500

Subscribe
MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20

Subscribe

Questions?

What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at support@the-ken.com detailing the error or queries.