Indian movie production house Eros is in early talks with Apple, Amazon and Netflix to sell its film and music library, a source familiar with the matter said. Global content streaming companies are jockeying to boost their Indian television, movie and music offerings in the world’s fastest growing Internet services market.
The Eros library includes blockbusters from the Hindi film industry, known as Bollywood, such as ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’, ‘Dabangg’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’. Eros has expanded in recent years to add films in other Indian languages and says it now owns a library comprising more than 3,000 Indian films.
Discussions are in very early stages, the source told Reuters on Monday, confirming a report in India’s Economic Times that said a deal could be worth around $1 billion. Eros could not be reached for comment, while Apple said it did not comment on “speculation” and Amazon declined to comment on “rumour and speculation”. Netflix also declined to comment.
Netflix and Amazon have been working to secure exclusive Indian content for their respective platforms that both launched in the country last year. Eros began exploring strategic options about six months ago for its Indian content library, a second source told Reuters. The source, who also asked not to be named, said Eros had attempted to work out deals with top domestic broadcasters including Sony, Star, Viacom and Zee.
The Eros library was worth less the $1 billion quoted in the ET report, the source said, adding Apple, which recently began assembling some of its lower-end iPhones in India, was unlikely to splurge on Indian content. Apple has been vying to boost its share of the price-conscious Indian market, where its iPhones account for only a small sliver of smartphones sold.
Eros’ New York-listed parent company faces a class action lawsuit for allegedly overstating the subscriber base of its streaming portal Eros Now. Its stock, which peaked at $39 on the NYSE in August 2015, has fallen nearly 80 per cent in the last two years and closed at $8.20 on the NYSE on Friday.
Eros International Plc owns a majority stake in Eros International Media, its Indian-listed arm, which works largely on content creation. Shares in the Indian entity closed 4.5 per cent higher on Monday. The Indian arm of Eros said in a statement it was “not privy to any strategic discussion” its parent might be having.
The Economic Times report said Eros was planning to embark on a restructuring exercise that was likely to lead to a reverse merger of its New York-listed arm with the Indian subsidiary by the end of this financial year, creating a single listed entity. JM Financial, which the Economic Times said is advising Eros, did not respond to requests for comment.