Amazon to buy MX Player from Times Internet


Mumbai: Almost a year after calling off the deal, Amazon.com, Inc has resumed talks to acquire Times Internet-owned cash-strapped video streaming platform MX Player, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Mint.

The deal had fallen through last time due to a valuation mismatch after Amazon, the US multinational with interests across e-commerce, streaming, cloud computing to online advertising, conducted due diligence, a process of audit and verification of a potential target company to confirm financial information and all other relevant facts—for the OTT service.

Last time, Times Internet had asked for over $100 million for MX Player, while Amazon’s internal team had valued it at around 500 crore ($60 million). The value has gone down further, one of the persons said.

“The two parties have resumed talks and are close to a deal. The valuation has gone down because MX Player is in bad shape. However, the company, which has over 2,500 crore in debt, will have to settle it on its own and Amazon will not take it on its books,” said the person.

Queries sent to Amazon and MX Player CEO Karan Bedi remained unanswered till press time.

Amazon owns a paid subscriber video-on-demand (SVoD) service, Prime Video, as well as an ad-supported OTT service Amazon miniTV in India. Amazon launched miniTV in May 2021 as a free service available within the Amazon shopping app for android phone users, which was later extended to iPhone users as well.

Prime Video targets the higher SECs (socio-economic classes) and is bundled with the Prime subscription, which also gives users access to free shipping on eligible items and ad-free music apart from Prime Video content.

However, for miniTV, there is no subscription required and it is targeted at the masses with smartphones and data connections. The addition of MX Player will give a boost to Amazon’s AVoD (advertiser video-on-demand) business.

MX Player was initially developed by a South Korean app developer as a media player for downloaded videos. In 2018, Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL)-owned Times Internet, acquired MX Player for 1,000 crore (around $140 million at that time), to mark its entry into video streaming, after a couple of failed attempts, including BoxTV.

MX Player was later relaunched as an ad-supported video streaming app. The biggest advantage the player had, was that it was already present in over 100 million users’ smartphones and was clocking 50 million daily users at that time. Today, MX Player claims over 300 million users globally.

However, the company, which last raised around $111 million in a funding round led by Chinese internet giant Tencent, has not been able to generate enough cash for a while to fund expansion and Times Internet has been selling off some of its businesses. In February last year, the company sold its short-video platform MX Takatak to Temasek-backed ShareChat.

In May 2022, Times Internet sold Dineout to Swiggy in a stock deal, while later in December it sold lifestyle publications–MensXP and iDiva—and an influencer marketing firm Hypp to Mensa Brands.

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