A couple of months ago, Eros International announced the launch of an original web series, moving away from its subscription model. We caught up with Karan Bedi, COO of Eros Now, to ask him about Eros’ approach to YouTube, film releases on its platform, and others, of which this is the first part.
Approach to YouTube Vs Eros Now platform
MediaNama: What is your approach to YouTube?
Bedi: We do a bunch of things with YouTube. We follow a windowing strategy with Eros Now where even non-film assets like trailers, music videos etc are broken first on Eros Now before we take it to YouTube. That varies from asset to asset, specifically, a 24-48 hour window where we break it first on Eros Now then take it out to YouTube in terms of distribution. We have been doing that with our properties over the last year and we are going to continue because we have had good success with it. We do a bunch of things other than that. We put out different cuts and mash ups of the asset. We promote it with our large subscriber base of 3 million subscribers on YouTube. We get lot of engagement on that.
MediaNama: Keeping in mind the 24 – 48 hour window, do you put all your content from Eros Now on YouTube?
Bedi: No, only most our promotional and music content goes up on YouTube. None of our full-length content is on YouTube, but it resides on Eros Now. We have paid and unpaid users. We have also got full-length content from TV channels. We have got Zee, Sony and a couple of Pakistani channels.
MediaNama: When you have a really large subscriber base on YouTube, why not leverage that drive traffic to your full-length content?
Bedi: We do that but the idea is to drive traffic to our primary platform, which is Eros Now. On YouTube, we give them the shorter version; and an easier way is to consume the full length content on Eros Now. We use different ways of annotating the content and driving the users to Eros Now. Eros Now gives a more curated experience like a Hulu or a NetFlix.
MediaNama: Why would anyone come to your platform over going to YouTube? YouTube has far more choices.
Bedi: I can’t share specific numbers with you but we are doing massively well on Eros Now. Eros Now focuses on long form content while YouTube has our short form content. Recently, we premiered Tanu weds Manu only on Eros Now straight from theatres. We also did the same with Badalapur and NH7, another film that did really well. Going forward, Eros releases will go up on Eros Now like releases go on NetFlix or Hulu around the world. Users would come to our platform for the premier experience. We offer lots of curated, premium content and recommendations. On YouTube, you could be watching a film trailer and have a cat video recommended to you. It is the exact same parallel as you may see with NetFlix Vs YouTube.
Digital Vs Television release
MediaNama: What prompts you to go online first with your films as opposed to going on television? With television having more reach, wouldn’t it make more sense for you to go on television first with a film rather than go online, which is still evolving?
Bedi: We believe that India is gravitating towards the moving screen as the primary platform. Even in terms of mobile consumption, there has been a massive move towards content consumption on digital devices, getting to a point where mobile is the primary screen, especially for young users. I personally watch most of my content online and with 4G, you are going to see that accelerating rapidly. We announced the launch of a couple of online original series as well, starting with two or three drama shows along with reality, comedy, sitcoms, across the entire spectrum. Because online provides a more open medium than television, we are going to be way more experimental with our content.
For example, we announced couple of major properties: One is tentatively called The Client starring Bipasha Basu, directed by Rohan Sippi/Shetty. Another one which is tentatively called Khel is about what happens in the background of the IPL, cricket with all the politics and power struggle behind the scenes. That is being directed by Karan Anshuman, the director of the film Bangistan. In addition to this, we have started producing a major show in Tamil. We are producing shows in Hindi as well as regional languages. In Tamil, we announced Ponni En Selvan based on a well-known Tamil epic. All this will be in the mini-series format.
We see the trend but we are not stopping our films from the television space. We have partners and our films are licensed to various channels but we definitely see a huge shift towards digital consumption. Like I said, phones are the primary target for India. Even with TV, we are slowly seeing the emergence of smart TV phenomenon. Now even the mid-end TVs are moving towards smart TV and are developing apps for it. Today, we see that people are consuming content during different times of the day from different venues.
MediaNama: When you say you release your new films online, how does it affect your revenue from theatre?
Bedi: It depends from film to film. Tanu Weds Manu came out very quickly after it came off theatres and perhaps it was still playing in a few theatres. Hollywood films had a very good windowing strategy and we have a similar one. It depends on when we think the content’s potential is maximized across different windows. Based on that, we bring the content out on Eros Now. Badalapur came out much later while Tanu Weds Manu came out very quickly after its theatrical release. This will decide how the content is performing in theatre etc. A number of factors go into the decision of how quickly it goes online.