Eros International (NYSE:ESGC) is an Indian media entertainment company trying to quickly capitalize on the demand for content caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It has been pushing hard to develop its own content by merging earlier this year with STX Filmworks, a vertically integrated global media specialist that produces, markets, and distributes movies, TV, and multimedia content. It's also working to get its Eros Now over-the-top streaming video platform in front of as many viewers as possible.
Blowing up the small screen
In addition to partnerships with Apple, Dish Network, and Alphabet's YouTube Music, Eros just signed a deal with Sony (NYSE:SONY) to have the Eros Now app preinstalled on all Bravia smart TVs sold in India.
TV shipments in India jumped 15% in 2019, hitting their highest level ever at 15 million units, according to data from Counterpoint Research, though Sony saw a decline.
The Bravia brand accounts for 60% of Sony's revenue in India, and because the coronavirus pandemic prompted even more stringent lockdown orders in India than those in the U.S., both Eros and Sony likely see this as an opportunity to capitalize on the increase in demand for new and more content.
Eros Now has been on LG smart TVs for several years, and on some Samsung smart TVs at least since 2019. Earlier this year, Eros further collaborated with the South Korean tech giant to bring the Eros Now app to Samsung's mobile Galaxy platform.
Counterpoint Research has also said smartphone viewing is one of the most popular ways of consuming content in India, and Eros Now has the biggest slice of the market among among 25-to-39-year-olds, with a 59% share in Tier II and Tier III cities.
Eros says the app has over 188 million registered users and over 26 million paid subscribers, up from 15.9 million a year ago. With its library of 12,000 films spanning decades of Bollywood blockbusters, it also has one of the largest collections of Indian language films. Its merger with STX aligns it with a global indie studio that has a number of successful films, including last year's Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez, and Bad Moms, even if it has mostly had a string of mediocre movies.
An early leader in streaming video
The Eros Now streaming platform also predates the appearance of Netflix and Amazon.com's Prime Video in India by several years. Earlier this year, Eros announced it was partnering with Comcast's NBCUniversal to launch a premium Eros Now Prime service to expand the availability of English programming in South Asia.
As it continues to transition from a traditional film producer and content syndication player, with more volatile revenues every quarter, to a digital over-the-top platform that generates stable revenue streams, Eros could enjoy significant growth in the region, especially in China, where it has set its sights for expansion.
Much like Roku has made itself ubiquitous on every available medium to remain the premiere streaming platform, Eros International seems to be following a similar path.
It's likely we'll see more such partnerships like the one it just signed with Sony, so that Eros Now becomes accessible on even more TVs and devices. Eros International is an international media stock that investors should watch very closely.