Homegrown producer and distributor of movies, Eros, is mulling a sale of its vast content library to Apple. Reports suggest that the deal could be in the range of $1 billion and will include Eros’ own slate of 3,000 films, the digital rights of about 5,000 films, albums of Eros Music, as well as video-streaming service Eros Now, which has close to 3 million paid subscribers. Interestingly, Apple may not be the only buyer in contention. Eros is said to have held talks with Netflix and Amazon Prime too.
While Eros owns a big library consisting of both Bollywood and regional blockbusters, it has struggled to monetize it. As competition intensifies from more premium video-streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video, both of which debuted in India last year, Eros might be facing redundancy. For Apple, on the other hand, Eros’ ready library of India-specific content is too good to resist. The Cupertino-based giant may be selling more iPhones in India than anywhere in the world, but it has struggled to drive usage of Apple Services in the country. ALSO READ: Reliance Industries invests in Balaji Telefilms to bolster Jio’s content library
Apple Music, which launched here in 2015, has about 400,000 subscribers. It charges Rs 120 for a subscription after a free three-monthly trial. In contrast, homegrown music-streaming service Saavn, which charges Rs 285 for a three-month subscription, has 16 million paid users. Another local service, Gaana, leads the market with 28 million subscribers. Apple Music has failed to drive local adoption primarily because of a weak content library. ALSO READ: Smartron announces partnership with Eros Now
Indian users prefer Bollywood and regional language content. A recent report by IMRB reveals that Hindi is the most consumed language when it comes to online videos. Very few users stream content in English, which is what Apple’s music library primarily offers. The video content on Apple TV too falls short of Hotstar or Prime Video currently offer. If Eros sells out to Apple rival Amazon, it would mean adding to the latter’s existing library of Indian movies, which it owns courtesy deals with leading local film studios. ALSO READ: 10 emerging trends from India’s online video consumption boom
Amazon has further earmarked Rs 2,000 crore for expanding Prime Video in India alone, where it will secure more titles and develop more original content. Netflix too has beefed up its India library with marquee deals with two leading Bollywood stars. It announced its first India original most recently. Apple, which has just ventured into original programming with Planet of the Apps, is yet to develop something locally in India. The Eros partnership could be a start.