marketer of the month

EPISODE 148: Marketer of the Month Podcast with Ali Hussein

Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!

We recently interviewed Ali Hussein for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Ali and here’s what we discussed about-

1. Employing technology to overcome geographical barriers and foster cultural integration.

2. Strategies for worldwide expansion involving blockchain, cryptocurrency, and web three.

3. The importance of the US market for international players.

4. EROS Now’s competitive strategies, alliances, and overall approach.

5. The influence of pricing strategies on OTT subscriptions in India.

6. Prioritizing storytelling and technology in high-quality cinema.

About our host:

Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.

About our guest:

Ali Hussein serves as the CEO of Eros Now, a premier Indian OTT platform under Eros International Plc. With over 18 years in media and digital spaces, he’s been a Board Advisor to Discovery Networks and various tech startups. Previously at Google/YouTube, Hussein led content and product partnerships in South Asia.

From Blockchain to Blockbusters: EROS Now’s CEO Ali Hussein’s Worldwide Web Three

The Intro!

Saksham Sharda: Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda, and I’m the creative director at Outgrow. co. And for this month we are going to interview Ali Hussein who is the CEO of Eros Now.

Ali Hussein: Great to be here. Thank you.

Don’t have time to read? No problem, just watch the Podcast!

Or you can just listen to it on Spotify!

The Rapid Fire Round!

rapid fire

Saksham Sharda: Alright, so. rapid fire round, the first question describes what your organization does in one sentence.

Ali Hussein: Backbreaking Media Technology Innovations

Saksham Sharda: How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?

Ali Hussein: Would take me too long, two hours.

Saksham Sharda: The most valuable skill you’ve learned in life.

Ali Hussein: Failure is an important part of the journey.

Saksham Sharda: The city in which the Best Kiss of your life happened.

Ali Hussein: Los Angeles.

Saksham Sharda: How many speakers can you name at this conference?

Ali Hussein: Maybe 10.

Saksham Sharda: Okay, Any three?

Ali Hussein: I know, CZ speaking, Sandeep speaking and Francisco speaking.

Saksham Sharda: in one sentence, describe one problem that your organization is facing.

Ali Hussein: Attrition.

Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?

Ali Hussein: Exercise music.

Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate.

Ali Hussein: Email about sending work, checking it 10 times before it goes out.

Saksham Sharda: Work from home or work from the office.

Ali Hussein: Hybrid.

Saksham Sharda: Most embarrassing moment of your life.

Ali Hussein: Getting the person’s name wrong three times in a meeting?

Saksham Sharda: How many hours of sleep can you survive on?

Ali Hussein: Four.

Saksham Sharda: Your favorite app?

Ali Hussein: Eros Now.

Saksham Sharda: Biggest mistake of your career.

Ali Hussein: I chose to go to a startup slightly earlier in my life.

Saksham Sharda: The First Movie that comes to your mind when I say the word technology.

Ali Hussein: Hurt.

Saksham Sharda: How many cups of coffee Do you drink in a day?

Ali Hussein: Four.

Saksham Sharda: Favorite Netflix show?

Ali Hussein: Breaking Bad.

The Big Questions!

Big Questions

Saksham Sharda: Let’s go to the longer questions. Do you currently target a specific demographic for your platform, is the emphasis only on stories that inspire affinity in South Asians around the world?

Ali Hussein: Our core audience and understanding of the audience is South Asian. So that’s what we do across the world. But with the new projects that we’re launching in Web Three, the intent is to target a more global demographic.

Saksham Sharda: And in what ways are you doing that?

Ali Hussein: You’re looking at how technology plays a role in language? How do you use AI ML to be able to break geo barriers, you look at culturally having a cross-cultural team working on the project that kind of imbibes different aspects of culture from different parts of the world. You look at themes of global content or global storytelling and see how you kind of imbibed them naturally within your narrative. So various techniques and ways in which you look at keeping the ethos of the product but still making it more global.

Saksham Sharda: What are your global expansion plans for EROS Now in general?

Ali Hussein: So historically, a lot of the work that they’ve been doing on firm and a lot of the work that we’ve been doing in digital and series has been targeted the South Asians but a lot of the work that from the group level that we’re now doing in blockchain and crypto in web three in the virtual world by the nature of the business is also more globally targeted, because to some extent, the world is becoming flat, the access and boundaries to content are becoming easier. Hence being able to target a global demographic becomes relatively simpler considering the experience you’ve had in the business.

Saksham Sharda: And what do you have to say about global players trying to enter the US market more and more and more, that’s becoming a market as well?

Ali Hussein: So it is the second biggest market in the world for video, for example, right? So for good reasons, guys, like Amazon and Netflix, potentially spend the second like the tier two or number two market for them, but the budget allocated is India. So it’s good for us, right? Because it’s a 1.4 billion consumer market, it is relatively interesting for more global players to come in and create healthy competition. And in general, everybody investing in the market makes the market grow. So in a way, it’s a good mix. Video and OTT is a good space. A good example is potentially one of the only examples in the world where there is as much international competition as there is domestic competition.

Saksham Sharda: What presently gives a significant advantage in the face of this competition?

Ali Hussein: So we’re competing with them with India, right? But our competition is looking at global South Asian audiences. So we distribute around the world, whether it’s in the US, whether it’s in China, whether it’s in Africa, different parts of the world, right? So, for us, the competition is more in terms of how we garner more monthly subscribers and get them to spend more time on the product. And that becomes a deviation compared to what Netflix can do in Africa because their target content for that market might be different. So in a way, their competition, in some cases, their alliances and partners in some cases, so it’s a mixed bag of both.

Saksham Sharda: So what did you have to say about certain OTT companies reducing their subscription costs in India, in particular, what has happened in the market there?

Ali Hussein: I think they’re soon realizing that it’s not a simple market, like the others around the world, it’s not like you open your subscription gateway, and you can access the consumer set. Price point affinity is a large part of a consumer decision, in addition to several other factors. So it was a natural progression for all these companies to start high. So I think Netflix probably started somewhere around, maybe it was 399 or 499. And then it’s down to 199. But Amazon is an example that started with probably 99 A month or 129 a month, this is Indian rupees, as an example. So different people made different decisions, and now they’re all cost-correcting, it’s a part of the business.

Saksham Sharda: What are your thoughts on the current premium cinema landscape? Where do you think premium cinema is headed? Next, what can we expect from Eros now as a premium cinema provider?

Ali Hussein: So I think from a premium cinema provider, you’re gonna see a lot of interesting stories that are independent of talent, more focus on narrative, more focus on globalization as a principal concept, which is very different from what some of the other incumbents are doing in terms of premium cinema. From an Eros Now perspective, I think we continue to focus on technology. I think technology plays a massive role in our culture in the way we kind of build products and teams around the world. And I think we continue to invest in that with a lot of what we have done historically, and then more of that going forward. So there are two parts of the story: red ones, obviously, Eros. Now, there’s a lot of work that I’m also talking about tomorrow in terms of Web Three, which is not some of it publicly known but more from a group level. But I’d also like to kind of bring that in if that’s okay. So what we’re creating in the web three space is along the lines of a Star Wars meets Avengers. But rather than starting from a firm, we’re starting from a web three as the entry point for the project, and the film becomes an eventuality of the product. So we’ve announced the trailer, we’ve announced the website, we’ve got some fabulous love, and the YouTube trailer already has over a million views in less than 10 days from launch. It’s essentially a story that’s based on deep mythology but set in a narrative that is 100 years in the future, looking at sci-fi and action as primary genres. So that’s the way we’re building this product. It’s about looking at stories that are mass adoption in nature and looking at how we’re able to get the gaming to slash virtual worlds slashed by three audiences to kind of imbibe an idea.

Saksham Sharda: So do you agree with what means your audience itself changed during the pandemic? Do you feel their tastes have changed? Has anything changed?

Ali Hussein: Yeah, I think one thing that did come across, and this is very interesting, unique to India is that films were kind of catered to the lowest common denominator and like a mass market approach, where there wasn’t so much emphasis on the depth of story, narrative, and storytelling. With the pandemic, people started adapting to a lot more series, a series automatically has deeper narratives, larger story profiles, or character profiles as they’re called. And then there was a sizable audience that kind of shifted an expectation to better quality storytelling with narratives rather than just power of the superstar as an example, which is a change of films that don’t cut from a quality perspective or not necessarily a theatrical film. audiences would just love to see them digitally rather than hitting a movie theater first and then going, and also the windows have been cut down right. Historically the windows used to be as long as six months or 12 months for them to come on to digital, but they now come on as soon as even four weeks from their theatrical premiere.

Saksham Sharda: So where do you think the power of the superstars is headed in the age of digital?

Ali Hussein: I think the concept of superstar changes, right? TikTok influencers are superstars. Digital humans could be superstars. Your avatar could be a superstar, right? So the concept of the superstar was born in the concert in the world of firms. It kind of changed a little bit in the world of television, changed a little bit in the world of digital, and changed the world of web three. So the concept of the superstar remains alive just who are these individuals or people groups who are kind of adopting these new policies to then create a fandom for themselves?

Saksham Sharda: How would the concept of marketing a superstar change in the coming years?

Ali Hussein: I think the concept of a superstar historically has been more aloof, like aspirational, aloof, the concept of a superstar is now changing to be more inclusive, more grounded, more involved in the community. And I think that’s a large deviation from what the initial strategy used to be. And I think companies and people need to adopt that change.

Saksham Sharda: The last question for you is personal. It is what you would be doing in your life. If not this?

Ali Hussein: Crystal ball gazing, I’d love to be like somebody who’s a diver or suffer if I was not doing this. I try to make sure I do that at least once or twice a year. Now, in hindsight, if I was doing that nine months of the year, would I continue like it? I’m not sure but if I’m Crystal Ball gazing, that’s what I’d like to do.

Saksham Sharda: Is the risk involved in being a diver or a surfer or is it the thrill involved that attracts you?

Ali Hussein: I think it’s just being closer to nature, right in terms of being able to look at the Aqua life, the marine life, the peace, the quiet, the beats, the sun, the sand, it’s the combination of that lifestyle. That’s exciting. Now again, when you get too much of it, does it still continue to be exciting is the question.

Let’s Conclude!

Saksham Sharda: Thanks, everyone for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. That was Ali Hussein who is the CEO of Eros Now.

Ali Hussein: Pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Saksham Sharda: Check out the website for more details and we’ll see you once again next month with another marketer of the month.

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