Setting The Agenda
Digital Studio|August 2018

Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO of Eros Digital is confident the $50 million investment on original shows will help Eros Now win the OTT battle for eyeballs.

Vinita Bhatia

While many young kids her age were learning to ride a bicycle, Rishika Lulla Singh already understood the nuances of the media industry. With Kishore Lulla as her father – who is also the executive director and executive chairman and director of Eros International Plc – and Sunil Lulla as her uncle, who is executive vice chairman and MD of Eros India, dinner conversations were often about movies and the entertainment business.

So, when the time came for her to choose a career, many thought she would probably want to be in front of the camera, given her looks and considering that she had completed her PG studies at UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. In fact, Rishika relates very closely to the oft-repeated statement – my career plans were much more exciting when I was five.

“Like most growing kids, I found quite a few professions fascinating. While the choice of career may have differed with passing years, I was ambitious enough to resolve that I wanted to grow up doing something significant and momentous. I have always been of the opinion that one should watch content/television as per one’s convenience and choice,” she empathically stated.

That is precisely how she decided to get involved with Eros Now. In 2012, when Eros foresaw that the future lay in digital, it seemed the perfect time for the young girl, who was armed with a BA in South Asian Studies and Management from the School Of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, to foray into the business under her father’s guidance. She decided to use her learning from her well-travelled life to create a platform that is consumer friendly and delivers the best of content.

“We have a vast content library, totalling over 4,400 hours of short-form videos, including music videos, trailers, original short exclusive interviews and marketing shorts. Beginning in 2015, with Eros Now’s ‘TV se Pehle Digital’ premiering efforts, Eros Now has digitally premiered 137 films on the platform in nine different languages, including Hindi, English, Tamil, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Telugu and Punjabi,” Rishika stated. The digital premieres span a wide range of genres, including several popular digitally-premiered films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bajirao Mastaani, The Lunchbox, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, PK, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Aligarh.

BETTING BIG

The mounting shift in viewer habits has been largely supplemented by improvements in streaming infrastructure, better broadband connectivity and availability of smartphones at reasonable costs. Increasingly, in addition to the conventional DTH or cable subscription for their home TVs, viewers are showing a growing inclination to subscribe to OTT services, especially for their digital devices.

Realising the changing dynamics of the Indian television industry, many production companies like, Balaji Telefilms, T-Series, Viacom18, as well as Eros International decided to invest in creating a robust OTT platform as well as in creating quality content exclusively for this channel.

Explaining the decision behind this foray, Rishika said “Eros remains the only fully vertically integrated independent studio model within the industry, with the largest library and over 30% market share of the top 100 box office hits over the last decade. Our large library and ability to monetise it through our distribution network has always been the core strength at the heart of our company and the people.”

Eros has been at the forefront of technology adoption, starting from the days when it was amongst the earliest distributors of VHS from India more than four decades ago. Hence, when the advent of streaming services started creating disruption in the entertainment space with revenue from films set to be outnumbered by digital, the company decided that the time had come to take a digital plunge.

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