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Eros Now gearing up to build its brand with SVOD and movie positioning

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MUMBAI: Ever since over-the-top (OTT) platforms began to pop up like breeding rabbits  in India, there has been widespread scepticism over whether viewers would pay for online content. Most of the players, however, are quite sanguine that Indian audiences are ready to open their wallets for good content. Echoing the same sentiment, Eros Digital COO Ali Hussein, in an interaction with indiantelevision.com, said that he is going to further reiterate the fact that Eros Now has been a subscription first video on demand service and push its positioning as a movie focused product. A high decible promotional campaign is on the anvil, to push the messaging to  users in a bid to upgrade them to paying customers.

The move comes in the wake of Eros Digital concentrating on generating paying subs. Operating under the ambit of production and distribution company Eros International Media, the company is inching towards its aim of accruing 16 million subscribers by the end of financial year 2019. It already has according to some reports five million subs internationally.

A former YouTube executive, Hussein joined Eros Digital as COO in January with more than 15 years of experience in digital media across big name content and digital outfits. During his time with YouTube, he realised the true value of technology, research and the function of product managers, which is sometimes undermined by content creators.

Instead of harping on a grand vision, he is looking at simply building an identity for his new charge. He believes that the company has much to consolidate. While other platforms are entering the space with multiple identities such as general entertainment, youth, kids, family and sports, Eros Now has an advantage with being defined as a movie destination.

“I think it’s important for the ecosystem to understand that at the end of the day, you are trying to develop an affinity with the customer. Hence, building a brand and a cultural ethos is always important. You can’t just be like a jigsaw puzzle,” Ali  said.

That is why Eros Now is aiming at identifying its niche and building on it. And it is going to push the two messaging planks of movies first and SVOD-first. According to Ali, the plan is to double investment from a brand stand point. “In the next six to nine months, the company will take various initiatives focusing on how to develop a brand for the future.”

Original content is the star ingredient for OTT players in 2018 with Eros Now being no exception. The digital platform will launch six to eight originals, including up to two in regional languages. Keeping its long legacy of quality storytelling in mind, the platform will not launch a large number of shows but will concentrate on quality. "There will be no reality shows or non-fiction content. Our focus will to be build limited episode shows in the ficitonal space with the treatment we put in place when we make movies under the Eros brand."

Eros Now currently follows the SVOD-first model - read: all its content behind a pay wall while keeping music videos and movie trailers free, which will have some ad monetisation. Pricing is at Rs 49 for the base pack and Rs 99 for the full monty including HD, movies and other premium content.

“With e-commerce encouraging and making it easy for people to trust online payments, the OTT sector aims to benefit from this trust,” adds Ali. "As an overall ecosystem, the future of the business is going to move to e-payment and that’ll have an effect on media and entertainment,” he said.

Deals with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone and mobile wallets and OEMs will help Eros Now complete its target of annual average revenue per user of $5 in India and $35 internationally. Late last month, Reliance Industries bought a minority stake in Eros International, helping it leverage Jio’s 4G offering.

In January, Eros Now announced that it had hit 80 million registered users and five million paying subscribers worldwide as of 31 December 2017 with 150 per cent growth over the previous year. By 31 March 2018, it had hoped to climb to six to eight million subscribers and double that number by the end of FY 2019.

Eros Now already has users globally owing to the large Indian diaspora. Earlier, Eros International collaborated with Roku and web-OS enabled LG smart TVs to make its OTT content available around the world. To expand its reach, Eros Now will target certain international markets but with localised strategies.

Thanks to the hectic pace of action in the OTT space, platforms have to be constantly on their toes taking course-corrective measures in order to stay afloat. So far, Eros Now has had a low-profile existence in the market but things are about to change soon. The next six to nine months are likely to see a raft of announcements by the platform in terms of originals and a stronger connect in foreign markets through localised content strategy. Watch this space for more action.

Also Read :

Eros Digital ropes in former Google exec Ali Hussein as COO

Eros Now and PVR Cinemas present - ‘Return of Blockbusters’ Film Festival

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