MX Player’s Gautam Talwar on how the platform is increasing its focus on regionalisation to further expand its reach
The next big push is undoubtedly going to be regional content: Gautam Talwar, MX PlayerMX Player
MX Player takes its regional content mainstream with Samantar 2

MX Player’s Gautam Talwar on how the platform is increasing its focus on regionalisation to further expand its reach

MX Player takes its regional content mainstream with Samantar 2
  • MX Player’s Samantar 2 is one of its biggest regional shows yet.
  • The thriller has been appreciated outside of Maharashtra as well this time.
  • Gautam Talwar, Chief Content Officer, MX Player talks to us about the show’s performance and how the platform is planning to go big on regionalisation in the coming months by adding more languages.
  • He said that the success of Samantar 2, Queen and a few other international non-English series on MX Player have proved how language is not a barrier to a good story.
In the last few years, regional shows have gained popularity in India and many small regional OTT platforms such as Hoichoi, Sun NXT, Koode, have been able to carve their own place among large international players such as Netflix and Amazon. With increasing internet penetration in India and new rural users coming in everyday, OTT platforms have increasingly attracted regional subscribers on a concurrent basis. According to RBSA Advisors, the size of the OTT market in FY20 stood in the range of $ 1.7 billion (both Video and Audio) and it is burgeoning into a multi-billion-dollar industry. It has the potential to grow to be a $15 billion industry over the next 9 to 10 years

Home-grown platform MX Player has also been increasing its focus on regionalisation. Its Samantar 2, a Marathi series, is one of the biggest regional shows on the platform yet. While the Marathi series performed well in Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur and Thane, the Hindi-dubbed version of the series was appreciated in Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Patna as well.

Elaborating on how Samanatar 2 is faring on MX Player, Gautam Talwar, Chief Content Officer, MX Player said, “The franchise has lived up to its promise. Season 2 has performed exceedingly well, maybe even better than season 1, which is something you don’t see very often and Samantar has reversed that trend. This edge of the seat thriller is a Marathi show, having been adapted from the literary work of Suhas Shirvalkar, a Marathi writer but over 45% of this season’s users have watched the Hindi dubbed version, which is proof that regional content is now breaking linguistic barriers.”

According to COTT’s latest Week 26 data i.e., 27 June, 2021 to 3rd July, 2021, Netflix’s Ray was the top show with 35.72 million viewers translating to a reach of 6.22%. It was followed by MX Player’s Samantar 2 with 32.71 million viewers, contributing to 5.7% of total OTT reach in Week 26th.
MX Player’s Gautam Talwar on how the platform is increasing its focus on regionalisation to further expand its reach

From movies to series, MX Player has ramped up its content offerings to cater to the upsurge in the regional audience base. Telling us what its content library looks like today, Talwar shared, “It's a very healthy mix of content – we’ve done big shows in Tamil and Marathi thus far with Queen and Samantar. We’ve also dabbled in Telugu, Gujarati, and Punjabi offerings as part of our acquired content slate of MX Exclusives. In fact, if you look at it, you're saying it's regional but even the international shows under our MX Vdesi catalogue - Turkish, Spanish, Korean and shows from other regions across the world that we've dubbed in Hindi are doing very well and to me, that is the regionalization of international content. The mix we have is extremely vast, we've got SunNXT down south, we've got HoiChoi in Bengal, so I think it is an interesting basket of offerings and I think these cohorts are only going to grow in the future.”

Samantar isn’t the first regional series to be dubbed in Hindi on MX Player. Usually, OTT players in India launch a series in Hindi or English and dub it into different Indian languages. MX Player’s Queen, which was originally made in Tamil and English, was later dubbed in Bengali and Hindi due to its popularity. It encouraged MX Player to believe in its hypothesis that a story well told can travel in any language and it has been replicating the same formula for its other regional original content as well.

According to the latest FICCI EY report, the share of regional language consumption on OTT platforms will cross 50% by 2025.

And Talwar agrees. “The next big push is undoubtedly going to be regional content. I think the consumer is very clear, they enjoy content in their language for sure but also, contextually as well as culturally, they do prefer stories wherein they understand that their lives have been represented, be it from the lens of relatability or simply from being aspirational in nature. Therefore, as storytellers it is imperative that we capture cultural nuances in the narrative and then of course, the language becomes equally important. That said, identifying and bringing viewers universal stories is the end goal,” he said.

The Times Internet-owned platform is also planning on adding more Indian languages since a major chunk of audience is in Tier II and III towns.

“Apart from Hindi, we have a very robust Tamil, Telugu and Kannada library, we have an extremely large Bengali and Marathi library, and we’re working towards adding other Indian languages to the existing mix,” said Talwar.

MX Player’s Samantar was appreciated outside of Maharashtra as well. Talwar said that the audience for the regional languages is growing in smaller pockets across the country and is looking for interesting stories, erasing language barriers.

“I believe if you have interesting stories which are real and authentic, supported by a great storyline, consumers are very willing to watch it in other languages also and a great example of that is the Hoichoi shows dubbed in Hindi that are performing phenomenally well on our platform. Massive South Indian films that are dubbed in Hindi do very well in HSM markets. Our original shows dubbed in Tamil, Telugu and Bengali do extremely well too. So, if you have a great story and if you make it accessible to a lot of people in their respective languages, it will work,” said Talwar.

On a larger scale, MX Player’s vision is to stand true to its proposition i.e. have enough content to satiate every need gap. MX Player boasts of over 1,00,000 hours of licensed content from ‘MX Creators’ and partners such as Alt Balaji, TVF, Arre, Hoichoi and SonyLIV.

Telling us about his vision, Talwar said, “I think the vision for the brand has never changed, when we launched the brand, we launched it with the brand promise of Everytainment and that is still the philosophy by which we live. Day in and day out, we want to give every consumer a wide range of compelling offerings, a lot of genres that they can enjoy – be it crime, comedy, romantic dramas, thrillers and to just keep churning out some good stories in each of these genres. We are making sure that consumers have the best viewing experience, not only at the content level but also in terms of product, tech, and an overall user experience level. I think it's important that the consumer likes us for everything.”