Interview of Eros Digital CEO Rishika Lulla Singh: ‘Will launch 100 originals in 18 months’

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November 30, 2018 2:21 AM

Eros Now has managed to record an increase in its subscriber base (reaching 13 million) in Q2.

Eros Digital, Rishika Lulla Singh, Eros Now, Eros Now ceo, television industryEros Digital CEO Rishika Lulla Singh

Eros Now has managed to record an increase in its subscriber base (reaching 13 million) in Q2. Apart from adding to its movie library, the OTT player is making investments in original content. Rishika Lulla Singh of Eros Digital talks to Anirban Roy Choudhury about driving subscription, the pricing strategy, bringing the cinematic experience to the smaller screen, and more. Edited excerpts:

What has led to the growth in Eros’ subscriber base?

When we launched Eros Now in 2012, there was no pure SVOD-led service in India, a time when high speed internet, 3G or 4G was not the reality. Cut to Q4 2016: with the Jio launch there was a push on data. We always had a clear proposition from the very beginning: unlimited movies and SVOD. A premiere every Friday, the promise that theatrical releases are slated to be on the platform and the originals have all contributed to the growth of Eros Now.

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Will you be acquiring platforms to achieve growth?

We are open to acquiring players that either have a library or a subscriber base. However, we are in this sweet spot where we already have 13 million paying subscribers and a registered user base of 128 million. So, right now, we are focussed on converting people to be paid subscribers. If there is a good deal on the table, we will definitely consider it.

Given Eros Now’s robust movie library, will it be difficult to establish the original shows?

We are looking at providing the cinematic experience we are known for, to people on a smaller screen where they can binge watch. We are not replicating the television format of content. The aim is to grow the cinematic experience and continue to perfect it with the originals… like what HBO did with Game of Thrones in terms of changing the way the television industry’s content space worked.

This would obviously need a lot of investment. Would it make economic sense in the current ecosystem?

You need to make content that has the legs to travel. Eros Now is not limited to India; we are live in over 135 countries. We have a strong international subscriber base that we need to provide content to. With our pricing strategy, we take a hyperlocal approach where international subscribers pay higher ARPU (average revenue per user) than those in India. Also, our game is about scale. We are not looking to skim the top 1% or 0.5% of the market; we want to reach everyone. We have 100 originals rolling out in the next 18 months and are budgeting approximately Rs 350-500 crore for them.

Monetising digital video content in India is a challenge. How will you go about it?

I do not think monetisation is the biggest challenge; driving ARPU is. People are now willing to pay for SVOD and music services. Monetisation is difficult for those who are replicating the linear experience that is either available for free or for which the consumer has already paid once.

The key factors that would drive people to pay for content include accessibility and price point. That is why we have a dual pricing structure, available only in India, where we have the free product to rope consumers in and acquire their details. In free mode, one can access around 100 films and a few music videos, trailers and audio tracks. Once they are in the ecosystem, it is very easy to move them up the funnel. For example, if I missed a movie in the theatre, I can watch it on Eros Now — that hysteria will push one to pay Rs 50 for a month. After a couple of movies they would want a large screen, HD and Dolby experience that would push them to pay Rs 100. It is all about putting everything out there, creating the scarcity, demand and desire to move up the funnel.

In India, Hotstar commands a large subscriber base, while Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer expensive original content. Where is Eros Now in the mix?

We want to ensure that we are the first brand that one gets onto when they land in the digital ecosystem. If we take our Indian counterparts, they are all free services because they are replicating the linear experience. The beauty about India is that it has such a huge pie that everyone can eat from it. So, you will have to claim and own your niche and that’s what we have been able to do with premium cinematic quality entertainment.

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