OTT content cost has gone up by 30% due to intense competition, says MX Player’s Gautam Talwar

MUMBAI: With the entry of new players in the over the top (OTT) market, the cost of producing original web content has seen a double-digit increase. According to MX Player chief content officer Gautam Talwar, there has been a 30% increase in OTT content cost since it launched this year.

“The content cost has gone up significantly. For the OTT industry, the content cost has gone up by 30% from where we started off because the number of platforms has increased but the talent pool has not,” Talwar told in an interaction.

He further stated that building a content pipeline continues to be an issue due to the limited talent pool. “We have a major pipeline issue. There are only so many people who create and then nothing has stopped whether it is feature films or TV shows. OTT is only an add-on for the content creators.”

Talwar stated that this is the golden age for content creators as digital has provided an opportunity to tell stories without any hiccups. “It’s the golden age for content creators for the next 10 years. It’s great to be able to tell stories that you always wanted to. Digital platforms offer that freedom to content creators.”

MX Player, which boasts of 150,000 hours of content, will continue to invest in original content. The platform has already produced 15 of the 20 shows that it had planned till March 2020. Apart from originals, MX Player also has partnerships with SonyLIV, Viacom18, and Sun NXT.

“We are just ensuring that the largest base of consumers get to consume the content that they want. We are not an aggregator. We have created 15 originals and we have a target of doing 20 originals this fiscal. We have acquired third-party content to ensure that we reach a large base of consumers. We are also a massive distribution platform for our partners. We have some original content in the pipeline. We will do 5-6 more originals,” Talwar noted.

MX Player also has a strong presence in live TV, news and South India dubbed movie genres. However, it is not playing the expensive sports and movie premier game as there is a lot of opportunity in the entertainment space.

“Consciously, we are avoiding sports because sports is a very large game play. IPL is the biggest platform and Hotstar does a beautiful job with it. There is a lot to do in the entertainment space. That is what we are focussed on,” he stated.

Going forward, MX Player will come out with big regional as well as Hindi shows besides a non-fiction show. “We have a very good bunch of shows coming out. Queen was our big show. We have two big Marathi shows coming out. We have three big Hindi shows coming out by April. We are very gung-ho about launching those shows. We have one non-fiction music-based show coming out,” he said.

To increase the reach of its shows, the platform is dubbing shows in multiple languages. “We will focus on the language content and ensure that it becomes language-agnostic through dubbing. We work with a lot of dubbing partners,” Talwar stated.

Some of the shows that have done well on the platform are Hey Prabhu, Thinkistan, Aafat, Hello Mini, Love Ok Please, and Only For Singles among others.

While fiction is MX Player’s biggest focus area it has also tried non-fiction. According to Talwar, the biggest challenge in non-fiction is that television does non-fiction very well and they have scale also.

“If you look at TV whether it is KBC or Kapil or Indian Idol or Bigg Boss. They do non-fiction so well. All of them are such good brands. In the digital space, we have to create that brand and we have to invest for a long period of time. Also, we need to figure if consumers come to our platform to watch non-fiction. Our focus is going to be a lot more on fiction.”

For MX Player, 18-30 males in tier-2 and tier-3 cities are the key target audience. The top eight metros also contribute significantly to the overall consumption on the platform. The male to female skew is 75:25.

“The female consumption on OTT is increasing but it will take time. I am sure the number for female audiences is larger but a lot of woman particularly in small towns don’t have their own email or social media account so they use their husband or father’s ID. They are watching but we are not able to capture them well. The real issue could be 60:40 but it doesn’t get reported,” he averred.

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