Amazon is engaging with Times Internet to explore the acquisition of MX Player, one of the largest on-demand video streaming services in India, according to four sources familiar with the matter, as the American e-commerce group eyes expanding its entertainment ambitions in the key overseas market.
The deliberations are ongoing and may not materialize into a deal, three sources cautioned. The terms of the deal are yet to be finalized. Times Internet and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sources requested anonymity discussing private matters.
At least two more players — including Zee-Sony — have expressed interest in acquiring the Times Internet-owned app, two sources said.
The deliberations are remarkable for MX Player, which was acquired by the Indian conglomerate Times Internet for $140 million in 2018. The video app, popular for supporting a wide range of video formats and reliability on low-cost Android smartphones, has expanded to original content in recent years and has amassed more than 300 million users globally.
MX Player has gained wide adoption in markets such as India in part by offering its wide video catalog that includes access to live cable TV channels at no charge to consumers. Instead the service makes most of its revenue through ads.
MX Player was one of the earliest video apps to expand into short-video format, cashing in on an opportunity created in the aftermath of New Delhi banning TikTok in the country in mid-2020. MX Player eventually merged that business with ShareChat’s short-video offering Moj in a deal worth $900 million.
Times Internet is a subsidiary of 184-year-old Bennett Coleman and Company, which operates more than three dozen properties, including English daily Times of India, news outlet Indiatimes, business paper Economic Times and advertising arm Colombia. In recent years, it has moved to sell off many businesses, including edtech offering GradeUp and restaurant tech platform Dineout, as the group prepares for a major restructuring.
Amazon, which has deployed over $7 billion in India in the past decade, has long been aggressively competing for a slice of the Indian video market. The e-commerce group offers Prime Video subscription (and Prime membership) at cut-rate prices in India and also maintains a free, ad-supported video streaming service in the country.
Google’s YouTube dominates the video market in India with about half a billion monthly active users in the country, according to mobile intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Prime Video and Netflix have fewer than 40 million monthly active users in the country. MX Player, which counts India as its largest market, competes largely with YouTube and Disney’s Hotstar, which has over 50 million subscribers and more than 150 million monthly active users in the country.
MX Player, which offers its premium offerings in many international markets, claims it has over 150 million active users in India. The firm last raised a venture round in 2019, when it received an investment of $110.8 million in a funding round led by Tencent.
That round valued MX Player at $500 million.