Earlier this month, Eros International Media Pvt Ltd had launched the beta version of their online entertainment service called Eros Now. At the time, the site was not fully operational and instead had a 'coming soon' banner on it. The site is live now.
The service is providing users with access to the company's film library of Bollywood movies (which is a lot since Eros digitised its film library comprising of 2,000 films last year), movie trailers (both new and old), music videos, audio tracks and original programming (this is still coming soon). As of now, the service is offering Hindi, Tamil (from the Ayngaran Studios), Punjabi and Marathi movies but last we checked, there were only 8 Tamil movies available on the site and no Punjabi or Marathi movies (guess they will add them later).
While audio tracks and music videos are free of cost, all the movies are part of the Eros Now premium subscription service (basically they are paid), although movie trailers can be viewed free of cost.
At the time of the launch, Ricky Ghai, CEO, Eros Digital had said, "Eros Now's mission is to develop a service that engages a new digital generation of South Asians globally â€“ when, where and how they want."
We were wondering if he was primarily targeting NRIs, now we understand. First of all, the membership payment has to be done in dollars, not Indian rupees. The cost of the Eros Now premium membership is $4.99 per month but as an introductory offer, the membership is available for a discounted price of $2.99.
Although as of now Eros Now offers only one subscription option, BigFlix, one of its competitors is offering multiple subscription options. The unlimited movies subscription is available for Rs 249 ($4.8) per month on BigFlix, which is almost equal to what Eros Now is offering (if you don't consider their introductory offer). BigFlix also offers a quarterly subscription pack which costs Rs 747 ($14.5) and a 7 day trial pack that costs Rs 99 ($2).
When we tried playing most of the Tamil movies, a message was displayed by the site that read, "Sorry! This movie is not available to be streamed in your region." We assume this is because Eros has only international rights for that particular flick.
The home page has dedicated sections to movies, music videos and albums that showcase the 'recently added' and the 'most popular' content. The page also has a 'Top Hits' and an 'Editor's Pick' section that offers song and movie suggestions. A welcome message is also displayed on the home page. Users can also browse music videos and audio tracks and sort them according to genre (dance, folk, ghazal etc.), name (A-Z) and language (although we couldn't find tracks or videos in any other language apart from Hindi).
The company has also provided a track player at the bottom of the page (like many other streaming sites) which allows users to play individual tracks or make a playlist of songs and videos. Users have the option of playing the music videos on low, medium and high quality (according to their connection speed).
The online film streaming space is a crowded one and the service will face competition from the likes of YouTube, Yahoo! and BigFlix, etc. and for music, its competitors include Gaana.com, Saavn, Dhingana.com, MusicIndiaOnline and Raaga.com, among others.
The company is also in the process of launching a series of applications for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and Android smartphones and Tablets. The company also mentions that it will bring out an 'offline mode' for mobile devices (for movies and music), but details on it are not available as of now.
From the look of it, Eros is targeting the international consumer (the subscription currency is a give-away) which makes sense for two reasons. For one, NRIs may not have as much easy access to native entertainment content as in India so they are a natural customer. Secondly, bandwidth is still a major issue for streaming content in India.