There has been a major and drastic change in the way people consume video content. With the ongoing digital transformations, people have interwoven their physical and virtual lives and also tend to be more involved in the digital world. As this happens, entertainment companies have to build digital experiences that are completely tailored for their audience as well as precisely and efficiently deliver them. This has also encouraged and contributed to the on-demand video culture, a shift that is reshaping how audiences consume film and motion picture entertainment.
In the light of the above mentioned, it is indeed a pleasure to present Eros Digital, a firm that redefines movie distribution and makes movies available at the click of a button. Eros Now is a subscription based over the top, video on-demand South Asian entertainment and media platform, launched in 2012. It is owned and controlled by Eros Digital, the digital media management arm of Eros International plc. Eros started its business with movie acquisitions in 1977 and within a few years it went on to become India’s first distributors of VHS. Since then, the Eros Group has acquired, co-produced and distributed some of the most recognized and successful Indian films across theatrical, television, digital and other formats.
In the year 2007, the company got transformed into a fully vertically integrated studio. Eros International which has always been the first mover in technology adoption recognized the significant shift in content consumption and viewers’ behavior and launched Eros Now in 2012. Today Eros Now, with the promise of its digital offering, is positioned as India’s leading digital entertainment company. The company has always remained ahead of the curve, embracing technology and offering the best in Asian entertainment to consumers worldwide.
In conversation with the thought leader, Rishika Lulla Singh, Eros Digital CEO
Can you brief us about the history of your company?
Eros Now was launched in the year 2012. Since then it has been 6 years and the business has seen rapid growth with consumers. Initially the platform delivered strong product proposition and built user experience on viewership behavior across all digital screens. The second stepping stone for Eros was distribution and partnership alliance with like-minded stakeholders on a global scale. Eros Now is supported by a powerful catalogue, steady flow of new releases of films across Indian languages, and the technology know-how from our digital platform allows Eros to deliver the best content to consumers based on up-to-date viewing habits and patterns.
From March 2017 to June 2018, Eros Now had 33 exclusive digital premieres on the platform including Munna Michael, Mukkabaaz, Baar Baar Dekho, Sarkar 3, amongst others. In the year 2018 with Newton being the only selection from India to the Oscars and Mukkabaaz receiving appreciation from critics and audiences alike, releasing these movies on Eros Now it gave us an edge. We also launched a short film named Toffee which was directed by Tahira Kashyap and 25 August, directed by Gautam Parvi, starring Rajat Kapoor, Arjun Mathur, Sayani Gupta, Gauri Balaji. In September 2018, we launched original web-series Side Hero followed by Smoke in October.
Eros Now’s worldwide paying subscribers reached 13.0 million, an increase of 251.4% year-over-year and 28.7% since last quarter and exceeded 128 million registered users worldwide across APP, WAP and Web.
There is nothing more important for a successful business than a well-defined mission and vision statements. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?
Eros Now’s mission is to develop a personal relationship with each subscriber and surface unique and interesting programming that is relevant to their taste. Our vision continues to be establishing Eros Now as the leading Indian digital entertainment company globally delivering the best in content and exploiting it through diverse channels to gain maximum reach.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Anything path-breaking comes with its share of hurdles and ours was no different but very exciting at the same time. It was a complete venture, ahead of its time with no other player operating within the OTT space in India in 2012. It was a challenge to convince many people around me to believe in the vision of what we were trying to create. As a platform changing the way content is consumed, windowing in itself was a break away from the norm. Even dealing within the industry and implementing exclusive strategic Eros Now windows for the short tail of content which is now standard across Eros and the talent we deal with, was an initial hiccup. Secondly, when we launched to where the digital world stands today is vastly different. The biggest hurdle we faced was the internet connectivity but with our country’s enhanced focus on Digital India, we are witnessing significant improvement.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?
It isn’t the yearly goals that we are focused on; it’s the long-term game plan of reaching the whole country and the diaspora around the world. Our eyes are set on ways we can turn our 128 registered users to loyal paying subscribers over the next 5-7 years. We are in line with the Eros strategy of developing its own intellectual property and concentrating on content-driven films rather than high budget star-driven films. The idea is to reflect our cinematic experience paired with unique and fresh content in all the Originals that are in the pipeline.
“It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it.” How would you and your team interpret this saying?
The saying is very true but the term ‘difficult’ can be made manageable or easy by staying true to your business/venture and by structuring it in a way that supports your mission and vision in the long run. Starting anything for that matter is relatively easier than sustaining, which is the real challenge, be it a kid drawing an art piece or a CEO leading a massive business. Stay dedicated to your work, enjoy whatever you start and stick to it.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
I totally believe in the power of chasing your dreams. Whether personal or professional, one must chase their passion without fears. Keep building than await an opportunity or an idea to hit. Secondly and most importantly, I strongly believe that knowledge is the real power. One needs to continuously develop their knowledge and stay relevant to be able to set up best practices or lead with examples. A powerful mind-set will always stand out as a key differentiator in all our actions.
Rishika Lulla Singh
Rishika is the young and talented CEO of Eros Digital, the digital arm of Eros International Plc, the NYSE-listed leading global company in the Indian film and entertainment sector. After completing graduation in South Asian Studies and Management from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), she went on to finish her post-graduation at the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. She also has several internships at prestigious firms including Citi, Grant Thornton and RBS under her wings.
Leading with the vision of making Eros Now the No. 1 Indian OTT brand, she has been applauded with several awards and recognitions. Some of the key awards that she has achieved include the ‘Youngest Entrepreneur of the Year’ at Asian Business Awards 2016, ‘Women leadership in Industry’ at the Times National Awards for Marketing Excellence 2018, ‘Most Influential Leaders 40 under 40’ and ‘The Women’s Empowerment Principles Leadership Award 2018’ at Pride of India – Celebrating the 71st Year of India’s Independence, Awards & Summit. Rishika has also received BW Business World 40 Under 40 for 2018 by BW Disrupt Magazine and featured in Top Women CEOs by India Today.