From a consumer standpoint, Netflix and Amazon get a bad wrap in the anime community. But, when you take a look from a business standpoint, for the anime industry, they’re doing some really good things in the anime streaming marketplace.
In this week’s video, I discussed how Netflix and Amazon don’t understand anime fans or the anime streaming market. It’s apparent that they’re trying to use what they know from streaming western content and applying those strategies with anime. It just won’t work. As some of you pointed out, it’s not fair to discuss the bad points of Netflix and Amazon and not discuss the good points as well.
Amazon and Netflix Making Anime
The video discussed that there is more money being thrown around in the anime streaming space than ever before. The 2016 Anime Industry Report notes that in 2015, streaming revenue for anime 43.7 billion yen, with noted increases over 2014. This is a combined domestic and international, but the report states “investments from overseas will exceed investment from domestic platforms” soon, calling out “Netflix, Amazon and Chinese Internet distributors” as companies that have increased their investments. This figure would also include Crunchyroll, Funimation and AnimeLab.
While these figures are from 2015, it shows that The Association of Japanese Animations noticed an upward trend in the industry as more streaming companies wanted a share of the anime industry pie. Currently, both Netflix and Amazon haven’t sat on any production committees, but Netflix has been involved with the production of Little Witch Academia from very early on, even getting their own producer credit. Netflix noted their press release for Perfect Bones that the company was “excited to work with Production I.G.”, whatever that means. Amazon have announced their own original anime series to be produced by Amazon Japan, which means we’ll see something soon.
More Money In The Anime Streaming Game
What is does mean though is that currently, anime costs a lot to be licensed. Big shows such as My Hero Academia are as much as 4x more per episode to license than they would be in 2012 for certain territories, with niche shows being two or three times more. This was, most likely, one factor in the Funimation and Crunchyroll partnership.
While more money going into the anime ecosystem can seem like a great thing, this money isn’t going to animators. This money is currently going into the production committee, which distributes revenue between committee members, based on the contracts. If the studio is a part of the production committee, they could be able to make dividends on a show, but this isn’t the case sometimes.
Offline Anime Streaming From Competition
Competition is always a good thing. Having more companies around vying for your eyeballs, or wanting to license a show means progress can be achieved in the anime streaming space. When Funimation and Crunchyroll partnered up, people were worried that they could create a monopoly of anime streaming. But currently the partnership, at least in my eyes, has been nothing short of wonderful for the consumer. Though both companies have been lacking in some areas.
Crunchyroll infamous had issues with the quality of its video streams. Crunchyroll reverted these changes and said that “to keep up with our growing audience and the many ways people are consuming anime, we’ve been working on a new infrastructure to better support the viewing experience”. They went on and said that their new changes were in line with what Netflix were doing with video encoding. Netflix has the larger subscriber base and better infrastructure. Crunchyroll has to catch up if it wants to scale up to that level.
It’s not only back end, the front end needs to be worked on. Amazon announced a few days ago that it was allowing offline streaming within Anime Strike. This was already a feature of Amazon Prime Video. This is on the back of Netflix already allowing offline streaming for some of its catalogue. Offline streaming is a great way to watch shows on a plane, train and automobile, and something I used a lot when I was in Japan to catch up on The Crown and Terrace House. Take that Netflix not allowing us to watch Terrace House: Aloha State in Australia! Anime streaming platforms have lacked this feature, but Crunchyroll announced that it’s working on it in response to the announcement from Amazon.
More competition breeds more features, and that’s great for everyone!