Eros Now ties up with Microsoft to develop OTT technology

MUMBAI: Eros Now, the video on demand platform by Eros International Plc. has tied up with software giant Microsoft to develop an enhanced online video platform.

Eros Now is collaborating with Microsoft to use its cloud platform Azure to build new features including in app video search in 10 Indian languages and a personalised recommendation engine for viewers of Eros Now.

The first phase of this technology project will be rolled out in 2020, the company said.

Eros Now will be Microsoft's first video OTT customer to use Azure tools like Azure AI, Cloud Data Warehousing, and Azure Media Services. Microsoft has previously tied up with Zee5 and Reliance Jio to use Azure for their backend infrastructure. But this is the first time they are collaborating at this level of engagement, the company said.

"We are working on use cases that bring deep personalisation, deep localisation, and deep customisation for our viewers," Rishika Lulla Singh, CEO, Eros Digital, said in an interview. "The end result will be a more comfortable, natural product that will greet you in your language, for example," she said.

This comes at a time when voice activated technology is moving to incorporate Indian languages. Earlier this week, Amazon announced its voice assistant Alexa will be available in Hindi.

Eros is focusing on developing voice activated and multilingual features on the platform. One use case, for example, is offering Eros original shows filmed in one language directly in others without dubbing or subtitling it during the filming process.

Eros also said it will develop features and processes in the backend to make mobile video viewing experience on the app smoother, but did not offer details.

"A lot of media companies in the West have built platforms for the English language, but no one has worked on a [multi] linguistic platform. That is our differentiator," Ali Hussein, COO of Eros Now, said in an interview.

Competition for viewership and exclusive content is heating up among OTT platforms in India. A big point of competition is a backend suited to the technology needs of Indian consumers watching video online. Many, like Netflix, have been introducing tools to ease viewing in patchy cellular data connections and customizing their platforms for mobile users.

As per the FICCI Media & Entertainment report 2019, Indians spent 38% of their time and 70% of their data on mobile phones for entertainment, of which watching videos was the second most popular activity after browsing social media networks. India has among the highest online video consumption rates in the world, at 8.46 hours a week, higher than the global average, and the rates in the US and Singapore, the report said.