New Delhi: Building on its original content slate for the expanding online video universe, over-the-top (OTT) streaming platform Eros Now is ready to add a new category to its offerings. Titled Eros Now Quickie, the mini-series will be 8-10 minute narratives that will play out over 8-10 episodes and multiple seasons each. Starting today, the Eros International Plc owned video-on-demand service will bring out 50 short series till the end of 2019, in genres ranging from comedy, horror, romance, drama and crime, both fiction and non-fiction and across languages like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Marathi. These will be available under the basic subscription plan of 49.

Eros Now made its foray into original content this September with comic series Side-Hero and crime drama Smoke.

“Short format content was always part of the broader idea and pipeline that we have to dominate the original content space," said Ridhima Lulla, chief content officer, Eros Group adding that the company plans to invest between $50-70 million in original content annually and the mini-series will constitute a significant chunk of that. “We want to target all kinds of ideas, be it films, large or short format originals and ultimately these mini-series will help us with better analytics on who is watching what kind of content."

Without disclosing details of actual collaborators, Lulla said Eros hopes to encourage new and young writing and directorial talent through these mini-series that can explore the evolving online space with their stories. The ultimate idea is to cater to everyone, be it people who want to watch 40-minute content or those who are looking for snacky, 10-minute videos when they wake up or are on their way to work. Eros has already dabbled with some short format content, like Black & White, its original interview series with celebrities and key influencers.

“The mini-series will be an extension of the initiative," Lulla said.

To be sure, there is a significant market for short format content in India. 70% of the overall online video consumption happens on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, which primarily comprises music videos, stand-up comedy specials and much user generated content. There were only five short video apps of an adequate scale in India till end of 2017. Over a period of nearly one year, there are around 17 of them with a market penetration rate of 0.1% and above. Majority of these include Chinese players like Tik Tok, Vigo and Viva video that command average daily usage of 26.8 minutes, 69.5 minutes and 10.5 minutes, according to a report jointly issued by Cheetah Lab from Cheetah Mobile and UC Media Lab from UCWeb, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group. Recently, direct-to-home television company Tata Sky Ltd announced a partnership with Shorts TV, a London-based television channel dedicated to short films that is available on the Tata Sky website and mobile app, besides television.

“India is a mobile friendly market and short format content fits well with that kind of user behaviour which has always been conditioned to watch it as an introduction to online video, in general," said Girish Menon, partner and head, media and entertainment, KPMG India. “What’s new is that short narratives are now becoming more professional and finding premium models. There are multiple platforms in the market so what matters is the nature of the content, the access to it and how it fits in user behaviour."