MX Player app on a Google Pixel 2 XL phone

MX Player is about to undergo a massive overhaul that will see the popular local video player app shift its focus towards over-the-top streaming for the Indian market.

News of the new direction arrives a day after Times Internet, the digital wing of India’s Times Group, confirmed it has acquired a majority stake in the app, as well as the announcement that MX Player has now passed the magic 500 million downloads mark on the Google Play Store.

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According to TechCrunch, Times Internet has invested around 10 billion rupees (~$140 million) in MX Player with a view to transforming the local video player into a hit streaming app for the Indian market that could launch as early as August this year.

Envisioned as an alternative to traditional TV in the region, the retooled MX Player is expected to offer as many as 20 original shows within its first year, with much of the invested funds being pumped into additional content creation. Times Internet has also confirmed that it will be a freemium-style service, which means it’ll likely be supported by ads.

“MX Player will revolutionise digital entertainment in India. Our audience wants premium entertainment content, built for India’s youth, in their language, with compelling stories and movie-quality production,” said Karan Bedi, CEO of MX Player (via Times of India).

It remains to be seen if this change in direction will impact the app’s functionality on a global scale.

MX Player has become a favorite app for media lovers across many platforms, including Android, iOS, and PC. It’s easily one of the best apps for viewing local video files on Android phones and tablets and has been for quite some time, having supported more formats ahead of the competition and offering useful features like subtitles and gesture control.

Yet while MX Player has garnered an impressive user base worldwide, a lot of its success stems from India. The company says that a whopping 350 million of the total 500 million downloads on the Play Store originate from India. Likewise, App Annie data puts MX Player ahead of other local video services with MX Player snagging 50 million daily users, ahead of Hotstar (14.1 million) and JioTV (7.4 million).

Whether or not MX Player can succeed in the ultra-competitive OTT streaming market in India is up in the air, although it’s hard to imagine a better set of foundations considering the app’s incredible install numbers and its well-earned reputation as a top-end video player.

It’s that last point that will give pause to many Android users, however, as it remains to be seen if this change in direction will impact the app’s functionality on a global scale, or whether its new owners will start eyeing other markets for its streaming ambitions.

Are you worried for the future of MX Player, or do you think its fresh outlook will succeed? Could even eventually see it taking on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in other regions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.