Ali Hussein: Eros culture has transpired into our digital business

ali hussain eros now

Eros Now, the OTT platform by Eros International, has come a long way since it was named as one of the top rivals of the streaming giant Netflix in India by The Economic Times in the year 2016. Today, Eros Now boasts a content library of over 11,000 films including the blockbusters such as Bajirao Mastani, Tanu Weds Manu, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and English Vinglish. The entertainment platform is aggressively rolling out its original programming also, in the form of series, movies, features and short films.

At the Talentrack Awards 2019, talking about the digital initiatives of Eros, Ali Hussein, the COO of Eros Now said, “Eros has the legacy of a very strong international distribution network and it’s still probably the single largest gateway for all Indian films outside India. The same culture has transpired into our digital business.”

Elaborating on the content strategy, Ali said, “The originals not only act as a marketing tool to get the people to sample the content but also improve the session time on the platform through aided discovery. We break down our content strategy in three parts – First is obviously the films, either from our catalogue or the films like Manmarziyaan, released specially for the satellite. Secondly, we are into big-budget originals and our latest release, Smoke, was the only Indian web series to be screened at the Cannes last year and was nominated at SXSW Film Festival 2019. In December last year, we expanded our short-format content segment with Eros Now Quickie which hosts series with episodes of about 10-15 minutes of playtime. The objective here is to deliver high-quality programming to a mobile audience. In addition, movies lead to several by-products such as trailers, music videos and other short-form content that is created anyway. Paid subscriptions allow us to invest in high-quality programming and get the first rush of the audiences.”

Eros Now follows an elaborate process to find the right scripts for its productions. “It’s not easy to get into the originals as you look for a very different and detailed narrative. Also, when you do production yourself, you work with the talent across the board, technical as well as creative, and it helps you build relationships. In the year 2018, the scriptwriters and quality acting talent were recognised and became the real heroes, rather than the top-line actors who usually get all the limelight. That’s a good thing for the industry. It’s difficult to hold the audiences for multiple episodes and make them come back for the second season. With the help of in-house writers, we go deep into the process of vetting the stories sent to us, and also put in effort into developing the stories in a collaborative way, allowing us to stay true to the original pitch,” explained Ali.

“Being the curated platform, we have a responsibility in terms of what kind of content we showcase to our audience. We encourage the writers to come forward and we try to accommodate every compelling story we come across. We also welcome early-stage stories that can be further developed and can fit somewhere as we do a variety of programming. We advise the writers to articulate well what they look to do as it helps the process. Sometimes we see the basic level of detailing missing so we advise them to value their own work first, do the required detailing and come prepared,” Ali expanded on the company’s commitment to encouraging good writing in his closing remarks.

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