“OTT platforms will soon become the traditional mode for consuming entertainment”
It’s SCREENXX time again, Adgully’s premiere property for the Video-On-Demand and Digital Entertainment space. In the run-up to SCREENXX 2020, we are lining up a series of interesting interactions and stories on the OTT space and highlighting how this sector is evolving and the consumers’ engagement with the OTT platforms, as part of our ‘Show Time’ series.
In conversation with Adgully, Ridhima Lulla, Chief Content Officer, Eros Group, speaks at length about the massive surge in viewership for the SVOD/AVOD platforms, Eros Now’s winning content strategy, how to meet consumers’ growing demand for quality, and more.
What are the key digital trends that are bringing about a change in content consumption during COVID times?
In recent times, the audience is increasingly exploring digital platforms for quality content across genres and formats. The industry reports show a massive surge in viewership for the SVOD/AVOD platforms across the globe. OTT platforms were already gaining popularity, and the lockdown has given a new spin to the whole entertainment viewing experience. At Eros, we have tried to understand the audience consumption pattern basis the research undertaken and industry data.
The reports articulate what people want to watch, what are the preferred formats, what are the different regional content that is being binge-watched, amongst others, which helps us to offer the most relevant and entertaining original and acquired content for our global audience. We introduced Quickie, a category on Eros Now for short-format content, in 2019, which has witnessed a phenomenal response. Recently, we released Originals during the lockdown period under Eros Now Quickies – ‘Metro Park Quarantine Edition’, ‘The Viral Wedding: Made in Lockdown’ and ‘Date Gone Wrong 2’ that have kept the audiences hooked on to their screens. These Quickies were shot indoors independently by the cast as we followed all safety measures as mandated by the government then.
Apart from short-format content, viewers are demanding for more, good quality long-format original series. The recently launched Eros Now Original, ‘Flesh’ starring Swara Bhaskar has been very well received by the audience. Regional content has also seen a surge as much as international content. Eros Now also caters to all key markets by offering content in nine languages, including Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali. We also recently announced the launch of Eros Now Prime, a category which will showcase international content in partnership with leading studios like NBC Universal. Also, our merger with STX Entertainment further enables the brand to deliver Indian content in 150+ countries while also catering to the massive audience for Hollywood content in India. The merger between the leading entertainment entities brings the best of Hollywood content to India and also offers the best of Indian entertainment to the global audience.
How do you see OTT platforms changing consumers’ expectations around the scope and scale of content?
OTT platforms will soon become the traditional mode for consuming entertainment, given the pace in which viewers are adapting online video streaming. At Eros, we have always believed in offering quality over quantity. At a time, when consumers are being provided infinite choices, audience preference has become the most crucial aspect for the growth of premium players. Eros recently partnered with Epic Games to bring Unreal Engine to film production in India through real-time rendering technology to movie sets and post-production, and help in delivering high-quality pre-visualisation, virtual production, and in-camera visual effects (VFX). With the help of Unreal Engine, filmmakers can conceptualise an entire scene in computer-generated imagery (CGI) to see how it will look in a finished format. The new technology adoption is known as pre-visualisation, or pre-vis in industry parlance. Apart from delivering quality, it also helps us in bringing cost efficiency for all our film and television projects across the globe. The consumers demand quality, and only the leading players’ satiating audience demand will continue the growth momentum.
How would you map the opportunity vis-a-vis consumer interest in the OTT video streaming market in India?
Audience choices are diverse, and so are our offerings. We, at Eros, understand consumer sentiments and release content that would have a larger appeal. The Eros Now content library consists of 12,000-plus movie titles, Originals, short-format content, music and more across genres, languages, and formats. We believe in presenting several relatable content pieces that cater to specific markets and audience. ‘The Viral Wedding’ and ‘Date Gone Wrong’, for instance, catered to the younger audience base. ‘Metro Park: Quarantine Edition’ largely attracted the NRI audience.
People are becoming more comfortable with the OTT platforms; even the TV viewing audience is streaming on OTT platforms gradually because they are finding what they want as per their choice. We have been the pioneers of OTT viewing experience in India since the launch in 2015. We work with the most celebrated and talented writers, director, actors, amongst others to present the most engaging content on the platform and have time and again kept raising the bar for content on OTT platforms. Eros Now original ‘Smoke’, for instance, was premiered at MIPCOM 2018 in Cannes under Made in India Originals category. Understanding what the audience wants has led us to cater to more than 205.8 million registered users and 33.8 million monthly paying subscribers worldwide across geographies and demographics.