A lot has changed in the world of streaming video since my initial review of Eros Now three-and-a-half years ago. New devices have made it easier to watch streaming content on television, offering expanded viewing options beyond the tablet and PC. Let’s see how Eros Now has evolved to take advantage of the new technology.
For those unfamiliar with the service, Eros Now is a streaming video provider that operates on a subscription model, like Netflix. The service’s parent company, Eros International, is both a production house and a distributor, giving it wider access to Indian content than any other streaming service out there.
A subscription to Eros Now Premium — which costs $7.99/month in the United States — isn’t strictly necessary. A free Eros Now Basic account allows the user to watch a selection of movies and TV shows, plus unlimited access to the service’s substantial music collection. However, English subtitles (and Arabic subtitles, for some films) are only available with a paid subscription. A Premium account also gives the user access to the complete catalog of movies and TV shows in HD quality, as well as the ability to download content for offline viewing. (On my home network, it took eleven minutes to download Force to my iPad.)
Like Netflix, Eros Now is available on PCs, smartphones, tablets, and via a variety of devices that enable you to watch content on your television, such as Chromecast and Apple TV. Eros Now doesn’t have an app for the Playstation 4, and though Eros Now’s website says the service is available on Amazon devices, I couldn’t find an Eros Now app for my Amazon Fire TV Stick.
I tested Eros Now on an iPad, iPhone, Chromecast, and Apple TV. Regardless of what device you use to view the content, I recommend creating a “Watchlist” at the Eros Now website first, to make it easier to find the movies you want. Each iteration of the app has a unique, limited set of search parameters. The Eros Now iPhone app allows you to filter the catalog only by language, while the Apple TV app only allows you to sort by genre. The website allows users to choose films by genre or language first, and then by decade of release within those categories — a useful feature given the thousands of films available.
The Watchlist is available on any device that you use. Another nice feature added in the last few years is the “Continue Watching” option that allows you to start a movie on one device, pause, and resume watching on a different device.
Video quality has noticeably improved. The picture is crisp and clear on both the iPhone and iPad. Either iOS device can be used to cast content to a Chromecast or Apple TV, though there is a dedicated Eros Now app for the latest version of the Apple TV.
On my network, picture quality suffered quite a bit when casting a movie — the horror film Alone, in case you were curious — to the Chromecast. Subtitles are superimposed on top of the picture on the Chromecast, which isn’t a huge deal, but other devices place subtitles in the black bar at the bottom of the frame so as not to obscure the image.
Far and away the best way to watch Eros Now is through the dedicated Apple TV app. The image quality is just as sharp as on an iPhone, and the subtitles appear in the black bar below the picture. The app itself showcases the content rather glamorously, with movie posters cycling through on the home screen to highlight the most popular options. Though the search functions are more limited than on the website, the home screen displays films in categories like “Recently Added,” “Classic Hits,” or “Unusual Love Stories.”
For many users, the question of whether or not to subscribe comes down to content. If all you watch are Indian films, Eros Now is probably the only service you need. According to the Eros Now Wikipedia page, the service “has rights to over 5,000 films.” I’m not sure that means that all 5,000 titles are always available in every country where Eros Now operates, but nevertheless, the service offers at least 1,000 titles to US subscribers. The catalog features 296 Hindi films released just since 2010, whereas Netflix currently offers eighty Hindi films, total.
While Eros Now has ended its experiment with same-day rentals for films that release theatrically in India but not the US (boo!), the service quickly adds new releases to its catalog. Both Happy Bhag Jayegi and Dishoom became available for streaming on Eros Now within two months of their theatrical releases.
There are important differences in the acquisition philosophies that shape the catalogs at both big streaming providers, with Netflix currently specializing in acclaimed indie films and Eros Now focusing on bigger budget fare aimed at a wide audience. Take for example the 2016 releases currently available through both services. Netflix has ten, including the immensely popular Airlift, but mostly smaller theatrical releases (like Saala Khadoos) and well-regarded festival films (like Brahman Naman). The ten films available at Netflix earned a combined total of $2,385,752 from North American theaters this year.
Eros Now only has six 2016 films, but all of them released in theaters, except for Aligarh, which earned its own share of acclaim on the festival circuit. The combined North American theatrical earnings of the Eros Now 2016 releases total $3,429,722 — a difference of more than $1 million. If being current on the most popular Bollywood releases — movies like Housefull 3 and Ki & Ka — is your priority, Eros Now is the way to go.