One of the core pillars of the Blue Ocean Strategy is to look across strategic groups within an industry. In the anime industry, we’ve seen companies embrace this, as Crunchyroll took legal streaming to the masses and FUNimation ushered in the age of inexpensive boxed sets. Companies have aimed for the high end and the low, as they try to capture new customers. Still, there are numerous markets that have yet to be tapped, each with many potential strategic niches.
Last March, Jordan-based streaming video service Istikana made its debut in the Arab world. The service, much like Hulu or Crackle, offers a selection of legal, advertisement-supported streams of classic Arabic TV shows. Live-action titles like Al Hesen, Sajenet Al-Hub, and Alagniha Almutakasara appear on the network, as do a number of shows aimed at younger audiences (or audiences that were young when they originally aired). What’s particularly interesting, though, is that the network offers a growing selection of Arabic-dubbed anime.
In the Middle East, anime has enjoyed a fairly vibrant niche. Shows like Grandizer, Sinbad the Sailor, and Future Boy Conan aired on local television networks. And, much like the western equivalents of Star Blazers and Robotech, these shows created a market that was hungry for more content.
Istikana is a blue ocean product in the anime world, in the sense that it caters to to serve a a larger, largely under-tapped population in anime fan culture. At the same time, they avoided many competing services, like the Egyptian Forga and Shofha, as well as San Francisco-based Crunchyroll by offering older shows that don’t exist on these competing networks. The decision to use older, more recognized titles ensured that many licenses could be acquired cheaply, which allows the network to show content without charging users subscription fees. At the same time, these shows have pre-built followings, many of whom are eager to watch, comment, and share their experiences with friends and family. .
While the service has its drawbacks, including a fairly high streaming latency and slow general site speed, Istikana has managed to make inroads into the greater market. The distinct offerings, low entry price, and easy interface have made the service generally appealing, and managed to attract a growing audience. As of press time, the site has an Alexa rank of 2,923 for Saudi Arabia, and 3,048 in Jordan. There is definite potential for growth, as the company remains mainly uncontested in its ocean. However, it will be interesting to watch how things develop, once competitors begin to join the fray. With over 300 million potential users, the payoffs of making an impact with the product can be massive, and there’s little doubt that more fish will begin to swarm to this particular section of the vast blue ocean before too long.